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After 16 years of marriage and as many years as my #1 fan, my wife did her first sprint triathlon. It was great time watching her doing the backstroke as she circled multiple times around buoys, being absorbed by multiple waves of swimmers. Her bike was much too large for her, and she was clearly a novice, having to stretch just to reach the handlebars. She managed to finish looking strong and showing off her smile despite the pain she was feeling. She was instantly hooked, and no longer just a spectator. Sure, I laughed a little, but was really proud of her getting out there and doing something I knew she found very intimidating.


Later that summer she was in a beginner swim clinic when somebody mentioned doing an Ironman. “I’ll never do an Ironman!” At the time I believed her. After all, my first Ironman was twenty years after my first triathlon.

Now that I’m getting ready to do my 10th Ironman, and my wife will be doing her 2nd, I’ve come to realize what Ironman represents. Below are five reasons why you should do an Ironman. If you aren’t a triathlete, maybe you should become one!

Reason #1: The Ironman is terrifying!

That may not sound like a reason to do an Ironman, but it certainly is! Doing an Ironman is a scary thing, every step of the way. The decision to go for it, dealing with self doubt through your training, and having the guts to get up to the starting line are just some of the challenges. What is keeping you from committing? Fear of swimming in a crowd? Thinking of starting a marathon with exhausted legs? Wondering if you have what it takes to finish? Your fears are valid, but they can all be conquered!

Reason #2: Celebrate your health

I always wanted to be in great shape going into an Ironman. Thinking I didn’t have time to train ideally held me back for many years. The fact is, you may already be in the best shape of your life and not realize it. You cannot take your health for granted, and training for and completing an Ironman will show you what you are currently capable of. If you choose to decide that you cannot do such an event, you might not be taking advantage of the health you have currently.

Reason #3: You’ll be a part of an elite tribe

It’s not necessary to shave your legs, get an M-dot tattoo or wear spandex on your commute if you finish an Ironman. Even if you prefer to be incognito, you will always wear that confidence of having completed an Ironman. The decision to go for it, the training in preparation, and the commitment to keep moving forward. It becomes a part of you. Even though there may be 3,000 athletes at any one Ironman event, they are from around the world. Very few will be from your neighborhood or office.

Reason #4: The atmosphere is intense

You aren’t the only one terrified at the start of the race. Everyone is anxious. The swim shakes off some of the nerves, and as you near the end of the bike you start to realize “I’m going to be an Ironman!” It’s a long race and there are tough moments, but then you see the most excited spectators that are absolutely amazed at your pursuit. Endorphins spike throughout the day, and then the finish is glorious. If you finish after dark, it is like coming out of a dark cave into blinding light with tons of spectators screaming and you find more energy than you started with. If you finish in the daylight, there are still a ton of racers behind you!

Reason #5: Ironman is epic

There are a lot of great events out there, but the Ironman creates intense memories from the moment that you register through the awards ceremony. Certainly there are other great events out there, and they are full of Ironman veterans. There is arguably no substitute for Ironman.

Maybe you’ve decided you’d never do an Ironman. Why not?! Post your comments about what is holding you back, or better yet, what you have overcome to do an Ironman.


I began doing triathlons in 1986, and I figured I was pretty much good to go. I was competing in both cross-country running and swimming in high school. The triathlon excited me because it seemed like a sport I would naturally be able to do. Swimming and running seemed like to only challenge. Afterall, everyone know how to ride a bike, right?
I’ve always said that you learn the most from your first triathlon. That was my experience at least. I was surprised how the swim and run were much harder than I expected. Oh, and I was clueless about generating any speed on the bike! Through brute force and volume I learned to race in triathlons confidently. It was difficult because I made it difficult, and figured that was the correct way to train. Eventually though I realized my training strategy was not getting me any further.
I thought about this recently when I spoke to an athlete that had figured out what he needed to get better at triathlon. He wanted help with swim technique, but not with his training. He said he got in all the bricks and other workouts that he needed to do. In our conversation it dawned on me that he thinks he know what he needs to do, but probably doesn’t. It’s easy to have blinders on and not see what is missing from your training to take your performance to the next level. I’ve been there. Hitting a wall in performance, and realizing you’ve exhausted every effort you can think of to reach your goals is humbling. I look back now and think what could have been if I had a coach earlier instead of committing years to doing it my own way.
What is holding you back in your performance? Do you even know? You might want to consider how much disappointment you might be avoiding by hiring an experienced coach.
Have you had personal experiences with a coach in triathlon or other sports that brought you to a new level of fitness and performance? Post your comments below.

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August 2015
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