ironmanI will never do an IRONMAN.  No, this isn’t a bash on the corporation.  I will never do a 140.6 either.  It’s not going to happen.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “Never say never.”

But I think this is one case where I can safely say never.


Well, I have a few reasons.  First off, do you know how long an IRONMAN is?  2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run.  That is a long freaking time.

I have run two marathons.  I loved the sense of accomplishment, but I didn’t love the training.  In fact, I hated the training.  I’m a slow runner with little hope of getting a whole lot faster thanks to my heart rate issues.  So that means that long runs take hours upon hours.  I didn’t really love the racing either.  I’m glad I did it, but I am a retired marathoner at this point.

Now let’s take that and add on the other two elements of the IRONMAN distance.

A 2.4 mile swim.  Okay, that doesn’t sound horrifying.  I could probably survive that.  Not quickly, but it could get done with training.

112 mile bike.  I’m sure over the years, I will do some century rides.  Not super fast (see previously mentioned heart rate issues), but I could do it with training.

But did you see the key there?  Training.  An IRONMAN requires a ridiculous amount of training and as a slower athlete, that’s an even more significant amount of time.

Could I do it?  I mean, probably.  But the big key?  I don’t want to do it.  Not at all.  Sure, I watch those IRONMAN finish videos and think about how awesome they are.  But I don’t have any desire to put my body through that.  And I also know that I don’t have the dedication to put in that many hours of training along with long days at work.  I would burn out so quickly.

The point I’m making is that I know myself.  I know my body, I know my limits, and this is one point where I’m setting a limit.  And that’s okay.  I don’t have to do an IRONMAN and you don’t either.  No triathlete does.  It isn’t the end-all-be-all of triathlons.  If you want to do one, awesome!  I will support you on your way and cheer you on to the finish.  But if you don’t want to do one, you don’t have to.

I’ve talked about this before.  People think that doing a bigger, longer race is just a natural part of your progression in a sport.  But that’s not true at all.  It’s about finding what works best for you.  Think about it – there are plenty of sprinters who don’t run marathons.  Because they’ve found what they are the best at and love the best and they stick to it.

And yes, I’m saying this as a person who is tackling a longer race distance this year.  But it’s something that I want and more importantly, something I feel ready for.  Do I dread some of the training, sure.  But I know what I’m in for and I’m ready.

Don’t feel like you have to jump to the next race level before you’re ready.  Just because someone else is doing a marathon or a half marathon or a 140.6 or a 70.3 doesn’t mean that you have to as well.  And if you want to do it, make sure you know what you’re signing up for.  Yes, it can be worth it, but nothing worth achieving comes without hard work.

By Megan

6 thoughts on “Why I Will Never Do An IRONMAN”
  1. Excellent points! Too often, I think we view the full Ironman or the full Marathon as the ultimate goal with the half versions being only a quick blip on the radar on our way to the “real” thing. But half marathons and half Ironman (70.3) events are endurance events to be proud of in their own rights!

    I agree about the training – that’s one reason I’ve put off my own aspirations for a 140.6. The training I did for my 70.3 was eye-opening! It took over my life, even what I wasn’t in the middle of a workout! For me, I know that to double that amount of training will require something out of me that I don’t have to give in this season of my life! Lots of folks tell me (when I give my reason for postponing) that they did it and they work full time, work two jobs, have younger children than mine, _______ (fill in the blank). And that’s great! They aren’t me! Your advice to know yourself is exactly on target!

    Enjoy your 70.3 training!! I’m planning to be there on race day to cheer! 😀

  2. What a great post! I loved your thought about how tackling longer races = progression. Totally agree that it’s not the case. Getting faster or honing your technique (something about your gait, pacing, etc.) can just as well be progressions. In all honesty, I daydream about Ironmans more than I would care to admit but I don’t see a scenario where I would do one anytime in the near future.

  3. You are so right! You don’t have to continue to go bigger and bigger with each race that you do! You have to WANT to do the training and the racing. If you don’t enjoy it, it isn’t worth the hard work, dedication, and sacrifices that come with it. I know my body is suited for longer distance racing. That said, I enjoy the training and love the race day experience. Kudos to you for knowing what you want and sticking to it!
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  4. I’m pretty much on the same page. I feel like I’m so much more inclined to work on improving shorter distance times than keep growing up in size. I do think I’d love to do a 70.3 but if running a marathon doesn’t sound enticing, why would I want to do it after having already fully exhausted my body.
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  5. I agree with this, too. I’ve attempted marathons, finished most, not all of them. I’ve found that I really love the half distance. It makes the most sense for me and what I’m willing to put in for training. I’m content with not breaking any speed records, but rather going out there and continuing to prove to myself that I can do it.
    And I like the shiny medals. ;p

  6. I know people who have done an Ironman as a “bucket-list” item – they hadn’t barely done one, maybe two, triathlons before signing up for the full distance. That, to me, is just totally crazy! I don’t think that it’s the ultimate goal, by any means, and everyone has his/her own journey. For some people, an iron-distance race is a goal and a distance they want to tackle. For others, killing a sprint is a big deal (as someone with almost zero power, I am much happier going longer and steadier than powering through a sprint race – oof).

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