Ironman — a term that conjures up images of Robert Downey Jr. playing the superhero, is still a difficult concept to grasp on its own. But if you're into sports, you would equate the word "ironman" with the Ironman Triathlon, considered the hardest, even the most dangerous of all the triathlons around. You can imagine its level of difficulty when you compare it with other triathlons. In the sprint, competitors are expected to put in a half mile, while in the international level, they are supposed to finish .93 miles. In the long event, triathletes must swim 1.2 miles. But in the Ironman division, they must complete 2.4 miles!
Just imagine the stamina needed to perform such feats. You can't be an ironman for nothing. You need to grit your teeth, find the willpower to press on and follow an intense training plan to make you ready for the next Ironman Triathlon. If you think that you are ready to leave sprint races and dip your toes into something more challenging, here is our seven-fold plan to get you in shape just in time for the next Ironman Triathlon.
- Commit yourself to training for the Ironman no matter how hard it is. In the actual event, you don't just need to finish 2.4 miles of swimming. You also need to clock in 112 miles worth of cycling and 26.2 miles of running! Make sure that you are already in pretty good shape before even contemplating to increase your training range.
- Swim alternately in open water and in the pool for an hour a day, three times a week. Although you can train in a pool, the water current is very different in open water, where you will be competing. Keep track of your swim pace. Fine tune your time to meet the event standards. To compete at your optimum level, target train for between 60 and 90 minutes daily.
- Ride the bike everyday. Log in about 90 minutes a day until you reach the target bike ride of 5 hours, 2 weeks before the triathlon.
- Run. Train for around 90 minutes daily until you reach the target training of three hours, 2 weeks before the triathlon. Try running on treadmills! Alternate between running on a treadmill and on the road to help strengthen your calves and legs for optimum triathlon results.
- Don't forget to stretch before and after each training event! This is a very important piece of advice to live by in order to keep injuries at bay. Add in a weight-training component to your over-all goals in order to build endurance when it counts the most.
- Eat right. Consult a nutritionist to find out how many grams of protein, and total calories you need and which foods are best to help you perform at your best, prior to and during the triathlon.
- Take it easy two weeks before the triathlon. Cut your training period in half to let your body relax. Just for fun, why not read the Iron Man comics or rent the Iron Man DVD in honor of your first Ironman Triathlon? Eat out, watch the movie on DVD and just live a little before the big day!
Ironman, a term we now relate to the triathlon, requires the athlete to take on a different level of commitment and discipline. How else can you say that the competition is truly worth all the time and effort?