Ironman distance looks glossy and exciting and so do the related distance milestones and PRs! It IS amazing. The triathlon passion is there for a reason. However, we know a secret: Ironman & top performance are also “boring,” hard & tedious. What it Takes to Succeed in Ironman Training isn’t constant fun.
It IS highly rewarding and a gift for those who WANT it enough to brave what it takes. Any able human body is capable of finishing an Ironman and even competing at a high level (with patience and time) but not every human mind CAN make it. You have to WANT it madly and badly.
The goal has to have a hold so strong in your heart that “what it takes” is worth it. It takes a lot more than we let on. The hard parts aren’t the “epic” scenic friend filled rides followed by smiling finish line shots and medals that that you see posted on social. The “camaraderie” and teams can be fun too but you can find community without having to put yourself through a grueling process.
What it Takes to Succeed in Ironman Training…
…is prioritizing the goal above other more immediately rewarding things. It’s riding on a trainer for hours when the weather takes a turn. It is running long in the heat at the lake weekend missing out as your friends are back relaxing on the water. It’s forgoing short term rewards for the ultimate long term gain. You push past discomfort. You have long term vision. You learn to accept imperfections and be fluid. You balance a tricky lifestyle to accommodate the goal. Your laundry piles up. Ironman is asking for and receiving help! Ironman is making inconvenient bodywork or medical appointments to keep things moving well.
It’s having the fortitude to do something different when your needs vary from regular riding or running partners. Ironman is the trial of finding the right folks & to help you and investing in those relationships. Then, trusting that you made the right decisions, opening your mind and following their advice. It’s those boring steady state short runs over and over to build durability. It’s considering your family and career needs while also striving towards time consuming goals. Ironman is managing gut wrenching disappointment and heartbreak when circumstances get in the way. It’s using the data and measuring progress while still knowing how to detach from it and listen to your body.
There will be illness & injury knocking at the door and bad luck to navigate. There is chafing, GI distress, blisters and random stuff like bee stings or road rash. There’s fatigue. Getting lost. Chlorinated hair and goggle marks. Frustration. Doubt. Tiredness. Boredom. Guilt. Putting on damp wetsuits. Pressure. Peeing in strange places. Being humbled. Sitting on the side of the road in tears. You’re constantly managing nagging voices of doubt.
Ironman (or chasing a race with a big goal) Is NOT for everyone.
However some DO rise to the challenge of training through it all.
If this is for you….you already have What it Takes to Succeed in Ironman Training! It is a matter of time and unleashing the hard work you put in!
Your family tragedies & outside life disappointments break you down but you use Ironman training as a friend and cathartic means to process the grief. You surpass friends and mentors and must walk away yet forgive “limited thinkers” in your journey and you learn from it all. You connect deeply with others in and out of the sport to support your goals. You train to celebrate the joys of life. You use everything as the fuel to keep going because it’s in your heart. You respect the distance and the goals you made. You share your success because you want others to feel the happiness that you do!
Those who it IS for….
…Those who do the work, have patience, learn to find peace in the boredom and lessons in the struggles…those are the ones who persevere.
Those who destroy your own negative narratives…You succeed. You rise. Those of you are the ones who can go to the top no matter where you are now.
Those are the ones I love to coach and can help get the most of themselves. I cannot teach passion but I can help productively channel it for success in sport. That is WHY the finish line insta shots look as incredible as they do. It is the reward for all of the grueling hard (things we don’t talk about) moments leading in. The finish line is a moment for those who embraced a tough goal with unrelenting passion and hard work to get there.