Friday, August 14, 2009

Making it as a F.O.P Ironman Athlete

Dear Athletes

As you know I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to web-surfing etc and am often on the scout-around for interesting tidbits of information that some of you might find useful and valuable. Well today's tidbit is probably only going to be of serious interest to a very small percentage of you, but I'm sure you'd all enjoy reading the following article if you've ever thought:

"Wow! That guy / girl at work has done an Ironman, works 60hrs per week, has a family and two small children and still seems to fit it all in. How do they do it, year-in, year-out?! WHY do they do it, year-in, year-out?!"

Now this article could just as easily be about endurance swimming events or marathon runs etc, but at what is typically at least 3 times the required training volume to complete an Ironman event the ramifications that this has on your daily routine can be quite a bit more profound.

Personally I'm all about "balance" in my approach to training, family, work and social life and would hope that those that I inspire and help with my coaching would hold those same values as well. I'm not anti-Ironman by any stretch of the imagination - I'm currently helping 6 really great athletes with their programs for various IM events around the world and am enjoying every minute of this process and hopefully they are too. Equally though, I have seen over the years good people become too engrossed in ultra-distance events to the point at which this balance can often fall apart. If you recognise this fact and can make appropriate adjustments, then OK, that's great. 

What the article talks about though is just what it takes in terms of a number value to go from doing your first Ironman event to trying to qualify for the so-called pinnacle of the sport, the Hawaiian Ironman in Kona. This goal can often escape people for many, many (many) years and is becoming harder and harder each year to qualify for. I think the point of the article is not to rubbish the idea or say that it is a futile exercise but to say "hey, this thing is going to take time, patience, persistence and commitment to that goal - if you recognise that, great, let's go along for the ride!"

Anyway, I thought it was a really great article and one which struck a chord on many levels. It also made me think that within the world of triathlon there is often the belief that unless you've done an Ironman and done it well and maybe even qualified for Kona that you haven't really succeeded. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to do that myself (one day) but I would encourage those of you new to the sport to look at getting good at the shorter distances first rather than feeling you have to jump up to Ironman immediately. We have the World Olympic Distance Triathlon Championships in Queensland in September and then the World Long Course Triathlon Championships here in Perth in October - both awesome events to be part of or aim to qualify for in the future which might not "break the camel's back" so to speak. 

You could obviously read what I and the author Alan Couzen have written as saying "mediocrity is OK" and that this is hardly the true Aussie Spirit of the "underdog done good", however I am hoping that by posting this link this will touch you in one of three ways 1) to recognise the time commitment that such a goal takes and plan accordingly if this is what you want to do; 2) to see value in events that might not be the whole Ironman distance; 3) to realise that the critical component in succeeding in your goals is consistency and in no small part of that enjoyment must play a huge factor - if there's no love there, don't do it.

Oh yeah - enough waffle, here's the post:



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