When I am approached by clients thinking about taking on the challenge of Ironman I often find myself offering these words of wisdom. “There are three challenges in entering an ironman”
- Persuading loved ones that it’s a good idea.
- Paying the £400 entry fee and committing to further necessary expenditure.
- Getting to the start line mentally well, physically strong and most importantly uninjured.
Lets take a brief look at each of the above and see what a good coach can offer the budding Ironman.
#1 As a coach there is not much I can do about number 1. However I do have a book full of tried and tested strategies for convincing wife/husband/someone else’s wife that the idea of getting up at 3am and supporting you while you fulfil your life ambition is a great idea. My personal favourite among the many is:
“Lets combine the Ironman with a family holiday” Forgetting to mention the fact that you’ll spend the first four days registering, sorting kit, checking out the expo and maybe even looking over the course. A whole 15 hours actually racing while they spend the day trying to catch a glimpse of you on the bike whilst the kids are complaining that it’s too hot. And finally the last three days feeling too tired to walk around that world renowned art gallery that you promised to take the family to back when you signed up.
#2 Also there is little I can do (or am prepared to do) to assist with number 2. Sure I can advise on equipment often quoting John Ruskin:
“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do”
Over the past thirty years I have probably tried, tested and subsequently lost more swim, bike and run equipment than most people buy in a lifetime! Remember those clip on disc wheel covers? yep I had one. It was great right up until the moment it flew off into the road, usually just after you have left transition. Or how about those seat post mounted hydration bladders with a 2 foot long straw which were all the rage in the mid 90’s. They gave off a powerful message to your competitors. “I am prepared, bring on the heat” Handy whilst competing in a sprint distance race in Cumbria in March. Oh and also they didn’t actually work just added about two kilos to your Reynolds 851 frame. (Google it)
#3 So this is the bit that a coach can assist with and I see as my responsibility. To get a client to the start line uninjured. So far I have not had a client fail to be there at 4am nervously weeing into their neoprene. ( while the aforementioned loved ones look on with a mixture of boredom and awe) Getting to that start line uninjured isn’t about luck, it isn’t fate, it’s actually a result of following a carefully constructed training plan and following a few simple rules.
“A wrong attitude is a big risk”
Whilst reading this months Runners World I came across an article referencing research carried out by Dr Josie Parry who studied over 600 endurance athletes looking at the relationship between injury and how they trained. What she found is revealing. Although most of the points are actually common sense it never ceases to amaze me how many triathletes fail to follow these simple guidelines.
What Dr Parry found was that less injured athletes ………
- Have a coach (self trained athletes had more injuries than coached ones) but only if they were honest with their coaches and had regular contact
- Listened to their bodies and dealt with niggles early on
- Followed a training plan
- Put physio into the plan – not just using it when problems arose
- Understand the demands of their sport
- Rested when necessary
- Followed advice regarding rest and rehab
- Coped well with stress and daily hassles
So there you have it. In order to enter and complete an Ironman you simply need to rob a post office, employ a good divorce lawyer and find a fantastic coach.