by Justin Granger
Iron Distance, Ironman, Full Distance, 140.6 – call it what you like, but it is the greatest one-day endurance test there is! If you haven't done one you want to, if you have finished one you might want to do another, and if you are a multi-time finisher you are forever dreaming of which one to do next.
We all have different ambitions that have taken us down this path. For some it is just to finish, for others it is a family tradition. Some make a living from it and then there are the Kona dream chasers. Whatever your reason it takes commitment, determination and time - lots of it!
Like most endurance endeavours in sport, proper planning and preparation are the key ingredients to help you achieve the goals and dreams you strive for in an ironman. Before setting these targets it's important to be honest with yourself when determining possibility from probability.
Allocating enough training hours per week and sufficient weeks and months while factoring in initial fitness levels are important aspects to consider. Remember that it takes time for your body to adjust and absorb training load before improvements can be visible. A gradual build will always be the best approach.
Rest, recovery and nutrition all complement your ability to improve and ultimately reach your goals and dreams. Rest and recovery allows you to repair and rebuild from the damage caused by stress and fatigue that endurance training inflicts on the body. The greatest gains from training come from being able to perform key sessions at the best of your ability. This is the smart and most effective way to train and most time efficient. Garbage miles on tired legs won't provide performance returns. Healthy and complete eating prior, during and after training will ensure sufficient and quality fuel is in the tank and ready to be recruited when most needed.
Mentality is another piece of the puzzle. The power of the mind is the single most evident limiter for the iron distance triathlete. Doubt and negativity can pull apart even the fittest and strongest. Confidence can look superficial once it is consumed by the power of doubt. No one ever said it was going to be easy – and why should it! Ironman originated from the three toughest endurance events of each sport, and we combined them all into one day. Once you start getting fitter and stronger, recover faster, eat and sleep well, when you get into a good frame of mind you will kill this thing - piece of cake!
To bring all these together and create something much more than these component parts, the final element is the importance of patience. We all have different personalities which contribute to the type of endurance athlete that we can become. Patience doesn't come naturally to all, but to be successful in this distance it must be developed and nurtured. Patience enables confidence levels to build, reduces stress and fatigue and ultimately allows you to control your effort regardless of what is going on around you and give you the best performance that you are capable of.
Patience is King; ensure you work on it as often as possible.