First time Ironman – What to Expect. If you are considering entering your first Ironman triathlon this post has been written to help share insight from my experience and from the members of the Trivelo team who have completed Ironman races previously. Scott who is a co-founder of Trivelo has completed Ironman Wales three times and was a key contributor in this post. Sharing views of how it felt to be a First Time Ironman and tips to consider ensuring you finish.
First Time Ironman Training
How many hours a week do you need to train for an Ironman?
Professional triathletes will train more than 40 hours per week but this does not mean amateur triathletes need to do this before entering an Ironman. The amount of training ramps up as you work through a training plan in the build up to race day. We would always endorse having a training plan to structure your time. Training will build up from around 6 hours per week initially up to a maximum of around 15 weeks in the final phase of training. Myself and Scott found this final commitment to reach 15 hours of traning every week a huge commitment. Especially if you have a family and work full time.
Can you do an Ironman without training?
Physically it is possible. With the individual cut off times you would need to come into this as a competent swimmer, cyclist and runner to make the times. In reality the complexities of equipment, hydration and nutrition on top of the physical exertion mean this is not something anyone should entertain.
Can you enter an Ironman if you have never done a triathlon?
Yes. Anyone can enter an Ironman race other than the wold championships in Kona that is subject to qualification or lottery based places. Assuming you can afford the entrance fee you can race. Our recommendation would be to build up to Ironman competing in shorter distances before this and learn the craft.
How hard is an Ironman?
Is there anything harder than an Ironman? There are a number of events that have been created to trump the Ironman mantle as the toughest race. The closest true event that is genuinely harder than an Ironman is the Ultraman. As the name would suggest it is pitching itself as the ultra event to enter.
The Ultraman begins on Day 1 with a 6.2-mile (10-km) ocean swim from Kailua Bay to Keauhou Bay in Hawaii. This is immediately followed by a 90-mile (145-km) bike ride. Day two is a 171.4-mile (276-km) bike ride from Volcanoes National Park to Kohala Village Inn in Hawi. Day three is a 52.4-mile (84-km) double-marathon, which starts at Hawi and finishes on the beach at the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area. Each stage must be completed within 12 hours or less. The cut-off for the swim is 5.5 hours or less.
What is the hardest Ironman race?
Although Ironman Kona is among the toughest Ironman races it is arguably not the hardest. It certainly can present some of the most challenging race conditions with the blistering intense heat on the bike amongst others. The hardest in my view came down to a choice of two Ironman races. Lanzarote or Wales. While we have a close affinity with Wales our answer for the toughest Ironman is Lanzarote. With a two-lap Atlantic Ocean swim course to start that takes place at Playa Grande, Puerto del Carmen presenting potentially choppy conditions.
Lanzarote Ironman then serves up a hilly bike course, with over 2,500m of climbing. The island adds to the mix strong winds making the ride even harder. The race then finishes with a run course that leads the triathletes along the seafront of Puerto del Carmen, up to Arrecife and back, and then to Matagorda and back. While the 3 laps of the run is relatively flat the heat in July can be brutal. Too much for many holiday makers with umbrella drinks let alone for triathletes taking on the marathon.
Best First Time Ironman
Which is the best First time Ironman race? There are no easy Ironman courses and events. With races held across the globe travel will be a factor for what suits people best doing it for the first time. Looking purely at the course and conditions Ironman Texas offers first timers a course they can finish. With a lake swim completing a single loop there is no rough seas to consider and straight forward open water sighting. The bike course is 2 laps mainly closed roads and limited elevation of 980ft to contend with allowing you to concentrate on your ride and staying on the aero bars. The run is another flat course with 493ft of elevation over 3 laps giving plenty of scope for loved ones to set up position and cheer you on a number of times without having to move.
Has anyone died doing an Ironman? The unfortunate answer to this is Yes. Over the years and hundreds of races many people have died competing in official Ironman and full distance triathlons. The bulk of these saddening moments occurring either while people were swimming or in transition following the swim. Our thoughts go out to all the families for whom this is not just a statistic.