Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Do You Have the Money to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

In my last two blogs, I provided guidelines about the base fitness and time commitment athletes should consider before taking on the challenge of the Ironman (2.4-Mile Swim, 112-Mile Bike, 26.2-Mile Run). Next, I want to shed some light on the financial side of preparing for this event.

The current entry fee for the Ford Ironman St. George, scheduled for May 5, 2012, is $600. This is just the beginning of the costs associated with training for an Ironman. Athletes could spend $5,000 from the time they register for the event until the Finisher Merchandise tent closes the day after the race.

  • Race registration – As previously mentioned, the current entry fee is $600 for Ironman sanctioned events, not including the fee associated with Active.com.
  • Gym and/or pool membership – Unless you live in an area with a mild climate year-round, and can do open water swimming, biking and running outside, a gym is almost a necessity. Six-month gym memberships can cost approximately $240.
  • Coaching services – This is not a requirement, but it helps to have someone with experience who can guide you through this journey. Six months of coaching can cost $1,050.
  • Bike equipment – With the added mileage associated with Ironman training, you will find yourself purchasing more tires, tubes, bar tape, chains and cables. You may even be tempted to upgrade your current bike. Athletes should plan to spend at least $150 in bike equipment.
  • Running shoes –Depending on the mileage athletes are running, shoes may be replaced every four months. My favorite Pearl Izumi running shoes are currently $125.
  • Physical Therapy – It is common for athletes to suffer minor injuries during training. A good PT is invaluable! I just finished treatment for a minor injury and all $375 went toward the deductible.
  • Nutrition – Athletes will need to factor in training nutrition, as well as additional groceries for daily nutrition. As training increases, the need to consume more calories increases as well. Plan to spend at least an additional $240 on extra groceries and training nutrition over six months.
  • Gas – Unless you are can step out your front door to swim, bike and run, athletes will probably be traveling by car to different locations for training. Factor in an extra $15 per week in gas while you are training, depending on where you live and how far you are traveling for each workout.
  • Massage Therapy – Monthly massage is recommended for athletes who are performing the rigorous training involved with getting ready for an Ironman. Massages start at $65 per hour.
  • Accommodations at the race venue – Many of the hotels near race venues have minimum stay requirements (ex. 3 nights, 4 nights, 5 nights). A four-night stay in St. George, Utah will be approximately $780.
  • Travel to the race venue – More than likely, athletes will fly or drive to the race destination. If athletes do not have frequent flyer miles, they should plan to spend at least $300 in airfare.
  • Bike transportation to race venue – TriBike Transport charges $325 for round-trip bike and bag transportation to certain race venues. Athletes may choose to pack their bike and take it to the race with the rest of their luggage. There is also the option of shipping your bike to the race venue.
  • Official Finisher Merchandise – After crossing the finish line of an Ironman, most athletes want to get their official finisher gear to let the world know what they just accomplished! Budget accordingly, because the “M dot Finisher” merchandise tends to be slightly overpriced. Sporty jackets cost $150. Bike jerseys run $125. Long sleeve running shirts are $90.

Of course, there are ways to do Ironman on a budget. That may be the subject of a future blog!

Now that you have explored the fitness, time and financial components of preparing for an Ironman, are you ready to start your journey? If you would like to discuss your Ironman race plans, please contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do You Have the Time to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

As another installment in my series of Ironman related posts, I want to address the time component.

The athletes that I work with often want to know much time they should plan to spend as they are preparing for an Ironman.

If you are contemplating signing up for your first Ironman, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I truly have the time to devote to properly train for an Ironman?
  • Do I have a job that enables me to work flexible or regular hours?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice spending time with family and friends?

Athletes who possess the fitness prerequisites outlined in my post on May 11th should plan to spend approximately six months specifically training for the Ironman. These six months will consist of five or six days per week consisting of one or two workouts each day. The last three months of the training plan will have the most serious time commitments, especially on the weekends for athletes who work a full-time job, Monday through Friday.

For most athletes, working a full-time job is a reality, especially to pay for all the costs associated with this rather expensive sport. The athletes with the most flexible full-time jobs or jobs with predictable hours (ex. 40 per week) will find it much easier to fit in the training for the Ironman. Athletes who travel frequently for their job need to find a place to swim, bike, run and perform strength workouts. Athletes who never know when they will be able to leave the office each day will need to commit to working out in the morning. Those athletes with crazy work schedules can still fulfill their Ironman quest, it just takes a bit more planning and creativity.

Throughout the six months of training and especially during the last three months of training, athletes will have greater success if they are completing their workouts, getting enough sleep, practicing good nutrition, and taking time to properly recover. This might mean athletes will have to forego many late-night gatherings and traveling for special events.

Athletes should talk to their families before taking on the challenge of the Ironman. Athletes will need to explain the time commitment involved with training for such a long-distance event. All members of the family should be willing to accept the sacrifices associated with training for the race. When everyone in the household can be on the same page, there is a much greater degree of success for the athlete to complete his or her goal of the Ironman.

Now that you know the fitness component (see my blog post on May 11th) and the time commitment suggested for the Ironman, you might be thinking you are one step closer to feeling ready to take on the challenge of the Ironman. If you want to discuss your situation with me to better understand if you have the time to commit to training for the Ironman, please contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!

There is another aspect to consider. Do you have the money associated with the cost of preparing for the Ironman? This will be addressed in my next blog post.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Do You Have the Fitness to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

As a follow up to my post on May 4th, I wanted to dig a little bit deeper and address the fitness component of taking on the challenge of the Ironman.

Many of the athletes I work with wonder how much base fitness one needs to begin training for an Ironman distance triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run). When I first started my first Ironman journey back in 2005, I received a ton of advice. I appreciated the advice I received from a book written by Paul Huddle and Roch Frey of Multisports.com. The book’s title is Start to Finish: Ironman Training 24 Weeks to an Endurance Triathlon. In this book, the writers provide fantastic advice on how much base fitness athletes need before they consider taking on the challenge of the Ironman.

The fact is athletes should have a strong foundation of fitness. Huddle and Frey recommend at least one year of experience training and racing different triathlon distances. I would tend to agree, however I heard of an athlete who finished an Ironman as his first triathlon. You can read about this athlete’s experience, along with several others’ experiences in the book, Becoming an Ironman: First Encounters with the Ultimate Endurance Event by Kara Douglass Thom.

As a foundation, athletes should be able to comfortably swim at least two times per week for approximately one hour each workout.

Huddle and Frey recommend having a base of three bike workouts per week which consist of one long ride of approximately three hours and two rides of approximately one hour each. Cycling at 90 RPMs (Revolutions per Minute) should be easy.

For those athletes who start Ironman training with a solid running background, athletes should have comfortably built up to a long run of 90 minutes with two additional 45 – 60 minute runs per week.

For those who are coming from a cycling or swimming background with little running experience, athletes will need time to adjust to the physical demands of running.

Having strong core muscles will be extremely important for successful Ironman training and avoiding injuries. A solid core strength training program should be an integral part of every triathletes’ training plan.

These basic guidelines are a starting point when assessing the physical aspect of beginning your Ironman journey. If you want to talk in more detail about whether or not your base fitness is where it should be for the Ironman, please contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!

Of course, there are several other aspects of accepting the challenge of the Ironman to consider. Can you commit the time needed to train for an Ironman? Do you have the money it takes to prepare for an Ironman? Keep an eye out for future posts as I address each of these components.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Question: Are You Ready to Take on the Challenge of the Ironman?

Answer: Yes! If you have the fitness, time and money!

As a Professional Triathlon Coach and the Coach of the location triathlon club in metro Atlanta, I am often asked about the Ironman. Completing an Ironman distance triathlon is an important rite of passage for several triathletes, however the Ironman is not for everyone.

The Ironman distance triathlon has been known as the “ultimate test of fitness”. An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. An Ironman sanctioned race requires athletes to complete the event within 17 hours on the same day. The races typically start at 7:00am and athletes must finish by midnight to obtain an official time and the right to be referred to as an “Ironman”.

Three important components that should be considered when contemplating signing up for an Ironman are fitness, time and money.

Athletes will need to have solid fitness foundation. Typically, one year of experience training and racing different triathlon distances is good to have under your belt.

Athletes with a good fitness base should plan to spend approximately six months specifically training for the race with the bulk of the training in the last three months. The serious time commitment will be on the weekends, if you work a typical full-time job, Monday through Friday.

Athletes should expect to spend a significant amount of money while preparing for the Ironman. The $575 entry fee is just the beginning of the expenses athletes will face. In addition to the race registration fee, athletes may need to pay for a gym or pool membership, coaching services, massage, additional equipment and travel expenses associated with the race venue.

If you are an athlete that has the base fitness to start training for an Ironman, the time available to commit to training and the funds to afford the high price of getting ready for an Ironman, you are probably ready to take on the Ironman.

If you determine you are ready, good luck! Enjoy the journey and savor the reward when you cross the finish line!

Do you want guidance along the way to your Ironman goal? Contact me at coach@vizslacoaching.com to schedule a free phone consultation!