Triathlon is one of those endurance sports that seems to attract those that either love the concept of inflicting pain on themselves, or striving to be the best they can possibly be. Often both of those things at once.
Whether your love is red-lining in sprint distance, or the geriatric shuffle of an Ironman distance tri – the attraction is that only YOU know whether you have truly given it 100%.
For me – IM is my preferred poison/addiction over the last five years. After having not raced at all for two years, I was as nervous as any first time athlete as the big day got closer. My confidence was low and I had no recent race results to comfort myself that I was well prepared.
You know, it is funny how no matter how meticulously we humans prepare, we tend to migrate towards the negatives. Those missed training sessions, the sessions where we really just “got through it” rather than focussed on achieving the purpose of the session. It takes quite a bit of mental mastery to go back through the training diary and remind ourselves of all the sessions we consistently did, those weeks of ticking off each session and each hour spent preparing.
Strength sessions, tolerance intervals, long slow runs, endurance rides, brick sessions – we seem to forget just how well we did prepare as we only seem to see the sleek, lean and well muscled OTHER athletes that sit drinking coffee in the streets of an IM city at race time. WE imagine their training has been perfect (it hasn’t) and they are better prepared (they aren’t).
In any case, the idea of Ironman is to test yourself. Just like that exam at school that is absolutely crucial that you pass well, it demands you prepare well in advance and don’t skip classes and do all the required work. If you don’t prepare well, you may well finish but it will be a world of pain (ok, it is going to be painful anyway, regardless!).
Ironman doesn’t respect any of your other achievements in life.
You can say anything to your friends over coffee about what sort of time you will post on race-day, but the honesty of Ironman is that you will very, very likely get the result you deserve. Like that pebble in your shoe, any mistakes or poor preparation will be magnified on raceday.
Ian Hainsworth is the PHTC secretary and an Ironman veteran. When he isn’t planning his next IM strategy he is mending the pets of Mundaring with the same dedication he brings to his race preparation.