"To Ironman, or not to Ironman, that is the question – "

The IRONMAN Spectacle – one of the greatest scenes from our sport. As IRONMAN entries open for the new season, now is the time to  decide if you will take the plunge...
The ironic Link to Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' questioning suicide should not be missed, as is the enormity of 'stepping up to this distance' is a decision that should not be taken lightly in triathlon. 

We don’t suggest you decide over a thirty-five lined Iambic Pentameter but you should make some careful considerations when deciding whether or not the next season is the time to go for an IRONMAN. The root of all these decisions comes from stability. In all areas of your life, you need to have stability before you start a venture that could take you between 6-7 months to prepare for. This theme is consistent throughout the following paragraphs as it will cause some strains on areas of your life you may not have even recognised.
Athletes can only spring forward to this distance when many of the fundamentals of training and recovery are in place to proceed without unnecessary injury
Physically, you need to be consistently injury free, or at least almost completely. There is little point in starting training for an ironman if your body isn’t working properly. We work with the Bosworth Clinic which is by far the leading clinic for injury prevention identifying potential short-fallings or setbacks long before they surface. I recall one athlete we had one year, who was screened in November, and given exercises and preventative work to do. Everything was going well in their training until in May they deviated from the plan and as a result became injured. Ironically the Bosworth Clinic had correctly stated in November, that should the athlete not follow the plan laid out then they would suffer a specific injury, which they would be told required an MRI and get treatment, both of which need not be untaken as this would miss the underlying issue. Therefore, physically you need to ensure that you are in a stable enough state to be able to absorb the training load imposed on your body. If you are in a position to be able to absorb the training, then you will be more than physically capable of completing the distance. Of course the caveat is, you still need to do the structured training in order to finish!

Philip Hatzis demonstrates fantastic facial features...
....slight amount of emotion?!
Financially, doing an IRONMAN is a reasonably large investment. You have more than the race entry itself. Like with any big endeavour, you need to look into the other costs: coaching, equipment, membership fees, facility use, travel costs (accommodation and travel), training holidays, nutrition etc. All these add up. Yes you can do it on a budget, but you also need to consider that this will still take up some of your financial resources and may lead to a subpar performance if you cannot make the financial expenditure in areas which require it.

Emotionally, an IRONMAN is a tall mountain. You have hours of training, you have moments where the objective seems too big and difficult, you have other times when it seems manageable. Your time spent training will begin to impact other things you enjoy doing. To state the obvious, it is a substantial step up from half Ironman to Ironman. The step up is large, your long rides need to be longer, your overall training volume needs to be higher as well. Can you spare the time? If you can, what are you giving up to be able to do that, will that take an emotional toll on you? Is this something that you can absorb in your current position in life?

Ed Brett, Tri Training Harder Founder celebrates his birthday 'Ironman' style...
IRONMAN is something which can (or will) impact your social life. Family, friends and partners all should be considered when signing up for an IRONMAN because you are likely to spend less time together as you have to put time towards your training and indeed your recovery/sleep. It is always important to ask the people closest to you if they are willing to support you in your IRONMAN challenge. By bringing them on board, you can involve them in your dreams and they will support you – will they join you on your IRONMAN weekend? Can you get them to be in charge of certain aspects of the race or preparation? Nevertheless, you must make it clear what the training implications are and how you can manage potential sticking points or areas before they arise.

All in all, completing your first IRONMAN is one of the most incredible feelings in triathlon. However, you must be realistic about what it will cost you and out-weigh the incredible achievement with the realistic impacts to your life. If you decide on balance to go for it – there is a trickle of envy from all our multiple IRONMAN finishers. There is nothing like that first IRONMAN finish line: it still gives me goose-bumps just remembering it!

Philip Hatzis completing his first IRONMAN (left) and then his Ironman World Championship finish in 2012 (right) – Sherbourne, UK was by far the most amazing feeling though