The Ironman Triathlon is the most challenging of all triathlons. Triathlons come in different lengths. Sprint triathlons are on the one end of the spectrum (short) and the Ironman is on the other end (long). How much swimming you do in the triathlon depends on which one:
- Sprint or Olympic – triathletes swim ½ mile
- International – triathletes swim .93 miles
- Long – triathletes swim 1.2 miles
- Ironman or Ultra – triathletes swim 2.4 mile
Triathletes used to swim last in an Ironman but due to safety reasons, it is now the first event. The idea here is that you’d be better off passing out from exhaustion on asphalt than you would be out in the big blue ocean.
Open-Water Swimming Different than Pool
Swimmers find the open-water in a Triathlon very different from being in a pool. It’s as different as riding a bike in a gym is from cycling out on a wooded trail. Or, take your own experience with the treadmill. Running inside is different from running outside.
While most of us have played in the surf at beach, we may not have tried to competitively swim in a straight line to a distance, compensating for the current and watching out for other swimmers. Most triathlons won’t have shores where swimmers can just dive in. You’ll need to run in to the point where you can swim. Some swimmers find their experience overwhelming to the point where they lose their focus and become disoriented.
Training in your pool is a vital part of training for your Ironman. Just don’t leave your training there. Make sure you get some open-water time as well.
Ironman training needs to focus on more than endurance training
Ironman training focuses on more than just endurance training. When you’re triathlon training for an ultra length event such as the Ironman you’re no longer in a training program, as much as your training program has become your life, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week!
Your training goals depend on your race goals. If you are an experienced triathlete, then your goals probably revolve around improving your time. If you’re new to triathlons in general, you probably want to focus on finishing.
Training for Ironman requires long-term commitment
Make sure that you don’t short change your training by limiting your activities to only swimming, cycling, and running. You must incorporate stretching and cool down exercises to help minimize injuries while you train. You should also make weight-training an important part of your training as well as consider some form of cross-training to help balance out your muscles.
When you’re training for an Ironman, your training program must incorporate training in a fatigued state to get your body used to those types of demands. Training for a marathon is one thing. Consider what running a marathon will feel like when you’re already tired from your swim and bike events.
Another important aspect of training for your Ironman is to understand and apply endurance nutrition. You must now see yourself as an elite athlete; you cannot remain ignorant about nutrition and not expect it to impact your performance.