Has Ironman become too common?

This is a transcript of a discussion from fitnaturally’s Facebook page, prompted by two-time Ironman world champion Tim De Boom’s article in Triathlete Europe magazine. Tim was questioning how tough Ironman really is, since so many people are completing the distance.

It was an insightful discussion about what drives people to take part in Ironman and other endurance events, or not, as the case may be.


fitnaturally

This article linked below questions the challenge of Ironman, since it “..has become commonplace and mundane.”

Just a reminder that Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim in open water, 112 mile bike and a marathon. One after the other, and takes up to about 15 hours to complete.

For me, the article highlights a mind-set that keeps needing bigger, more frequent, and tougher challenges and achievements; and I wonder what drives that and is it healthy (mentally), and sustainable? What do people achieve ultimately? What is the biggest challenge and will it ever satisfy them?

Is it about addiction, masking some deeper issue, boosting ego or self-esteem. Or is it utter enjoyment and personal challenge? Is it about finding normal life unfulfilling? Perhaps about wanting to be different? (hence ‘everyone doing Ironman’ makes you one of the hoi polloi). Or is it perhaps an innate human desire to conquer adversity?

Thoughts?

How tough is The Ironman really?


Facebook User

Let’s divide people into “Completers” and “Competers” (just made that up). Those who want to tick off the “I’ve done X”, rather than those who are either likely to win, or just compete against themselves to get better. The former tend to butterfly from one event/discipline to the next, the latter stick at something and try to improve. There is a conundrum with completing something: it has to be exclusive enough for the completer to feel prestige (I am an ironman!), yet popular enough for the masses to have heard of it, and so make it prestigious (no one boasts about completing the Wobbly Wheelers 75 mile Reliability Trial). But when an event becomes so popular, the more people do it, and the plain old completer loses prestige (who hasn’t done an ironman?), probably feels inadequate because they’re not “competitive”, so goes and writes an article in triathlete Europe saying ironman events are easy, and where it’s at is xxx endurance event. Thus, creating prestige and notoriety for the next big thing.

fitnaturally

I like that division idea.  It does seem to reflect the situation.  Mind you, the completer who wrote the article is fairly shizzhot Ironmanner I believe.

I love marathons, albeit just ran a shite one!  I get so much deep mental enjoyment from the training and the day itself.  I went through a brief period of contemplating an IM but concluded that I would only be doing it so I could say I’d done it.  The thought of doing it does nothing for me.  I did a half and cried quietly into a bush at the end of it! J

Facebook User

Well when (s)he talks to the great unwashed, they are no longer impressed that they are an ironman.  (Oh! my great-granddad’s one of those and has a tattoo on his forehead to prove it!).  But, are still not washed enough to distinguish between a 08:59 ironman and a 16:59 ironman.

fitnaturally

Yeah, I think we get so wrapped up in our own sports though that we think everyone understand them.  Then, someone asks how your marathon went when you’ve just run a 10k.  There are ‘celebs’ in the world of triathlon that most people would never have heard of.  Yet, triathletes revere them.  What I’m getting at here, is that what we might see as massive kudos is an enigma to most people.  So, is it worth “busting a gut” trying to do something you think is impressive, for the sake of being impressive, when, most people won’t know why it’s impressive.   I’m rambling…………….:-)

Facebook User

Excellently put!  I like this 🙂

fitnaturally

Yes, you don’t see many Wobbly Wheelers tattoos.

Facebook User

It’s only worth busting a gut to impress yourself or those who you love – who will be impressed with anything you do.  In my opinion, I think doing something to impress anyone but yourself, sets you up for disappointment.

I ran a 3:09 marathon last year and was 10th woman overall.  My mum said “we thought you did quite well”.  In a way, that suggested that I’d impressed her just as much as if I’d managed a weekly shop at Waitrose on £60 🙂

fitnaturally

Doh!  Did it bother you that she said that though?

Facebook User

Nah!  She’s a northerner!  I know she’s proud of me, that’s her way and it keeps me grounded and gives me perspective.

fitnaturally

Ha! Good!

Facebook User

There is a whole world of activities to do.  People have been doing these for around 100 years.  It is a cycling event.  You have to complete a course within an upper and lower time limit.  Not too slow and not too fast.  It’s the not too fast bit that makes it unusual.  It’s like anything though.  Once you know you can do one, you look for something bigger and harder to do because your boundaries move and you want to push them further.

fitnaturally

Yep.  I can totally see that.  I do observe that a few people become reliant on big or frequent events, in some mental-crutch way.  It’s like therapy I think.  They get fed up very quickly after achieving something great and can’t get no satisfaction. Whatreck?

Not saying that’s you – just a general observation of the endurance-event-population.

Facebook User

It depends on what they are looking for.  I don’t suffer with race blues at all, I never have.  I try and always see the positive in every race – even if I don’t feel it’s my best because the lessons learned can only help. Kim Ingleby has taught me what we gain from training and racing doesn’t just apply to that area of your life, but affects all aspects.  So, achieving a goal can prove to you that you can commit and focus, that dedication pays off.  This can help you at work for example.  I don’t think some people do that and they get a massive come down after a race because they fail to look at the bigger impact it can have.

fitnaturally

Yes, so true.  I think it really helps with perspective and people can draw on the experience to help them through tough times or projects.

I think you’re right; people often don’t seem to appreciate what they have achieved and feel they need to keep proving themselves.  But also, the big event gives them some focus in what might be an otherwise unsatisfactory life – perhaps?

Facebook User

I think I have the opposite of race blues.  I’m constantly looking ahead to the next couple of plans!! I still think I should learn to be more tunnel visioned.

Facebook User

I’m not sure about an ‘otherwise unsatisfied life’ Sal.  I know a lot of endurance athletes and they, like myself have very full and happy lives.  I just wish there were more hours in the day to fit all I want to do into.

Facebook User

Everyone is different of course, but I know a lot of people, too many, that don’t feel good about themselves or their lives unless they have a kind of punishment event they’re training for.  I feel this side of things isn’t healthy.  I’m so relieved I didn’t feel the need to do another IM.  Whilst surrounded by people that kept and still do keep signing up for more, despite injury and family conflict amongst other issues.  Of course, there’s so much positivity for some people.  Like I said, everyone is different.  But, I worry for this particular group of people.

fitnaturally

I think there’s a honeymoon period a few weeks after a big event, where you’re more likely to sign up for another, but a bit like eating – if you leave it a while and realise that you’re actually satisfied you’re less likely to overeat.  Appreciate what you have just had and how good it was.

IM is no mean feat in terms of carrying on a ‘normal’ life and I see that too sometimes, though there are some amazingly supportive and patient partners and families, as well as tri-couples.

It’s a salient point re the people who don’t feel good about themselves if they’re not overachieving.  IM and other events are their therapy, I suppose like having a high powered job or even taking drugs or alcohol is to others.  I think most people have their own forms of therapy/means of keeping their angst down or self-esteem high and endurance events /exercise are as addictive as all that!  I think it’s healthy to take a block of time off now and then and just live and appreciate some chilling.

Facebook User

I honestly enjoy it.  The training, the challenge, the goal of making improvements, race day – everything!

I much  prefer long distance to shorter races.  I don’t think it has to mean anything deep or meaningful to be honest, it’s just exciting!  An adventure and sure beats watching soap operas!

I’d like to do an ultra-marathon one day.  For no other reason than I really would like to do an ultra!  I think it’s a fab thing to say you’ve achieved, especially for someone not naturally sporty like myself.

fitnaturally

Very much so!  I do think a certain type of person does these events though.  I think there are often deep-seated angsts, which go hand-in-hand with partaking in endurance events.  I think they can be a form of therapy for a lot of people and there’s nothing wrong with that.  There are far more damaging therapies than exercise.

I think the camaraderie it brings is very special, meeting and becoming friends with and supporting likeminded people and yes, it’s very exciting too.  Exciting but often angst-ridden.

Facebook User

I loved the ultra I did – K2B.  It seemed so impossible, but I enjoyed it so much.  Like the other person said though, may be true.  Long distance wasn’t so hard but pushing for a time – that hurts. I’d like to do an iron man one day but don’t know how.

fitnaturally

Yes, pushing for a time is HORRIBLE! In my opinion, I think without pushing for a time these things are actually quite lovely.

Facebook User

So do I.  My favourite race by a long way was IM Wales.  It was such a tough course that my goal was to finish and I absolutely LOVED the day!

Facebook User

See, I’m going the opposite way now; I have nothing to prove to myself and have a need to get back to being on the limit at a tough distance, but not so I’m just enduring.  I can see how it’s easy to fall into the camp of longer = harder.  But for me, the enjoyment is paramount.  Just taking part, in an individual pursuit and being lost in the numbers after you’ve already achieved the goal/distance, leaves me slightly unfulfilled.

fitnaturally

So, what would fulfil you – race wise?

Facebook User

Difficult to define really.  I’m fully aware that it is all subjective also, but personally, I have a need to feel that I’ve actually raced at a high intensity and know I’ve not got much more to give.  My sporting background was football predominantly, where it’s all power/pace/strength.  I want to improve my pace and speed and move up the scoreboard in races that I can compete in, in at least one, but hopefully two disciplines.  It’s not all about distance and I hope that doesn’t become the accepted ‘way’ to be honest.

As a caveat; I always use this analogy to wanna be triathletes/IM distance racers – *almost* anyone can go to work, in a relatively manual job, as part of a working 17 hour day.

That shouldn’t be read as a dismissive on the achievement, by the way….I mean, that if you commit and train, it is a highly accessible goal.

fitnaturally

Physically but perhaps not mentally.  You have to be pretty tough of mind to want to race for that long I think.  Just the bike ride would test my patience.  I wanna get off after 30 miles.  I know what you mean though; essentially, we are endurance animals, so it’s within reach if the desire is there.  Whereas, speed will not always come to those who train for it or will it? A whole other discussion.

Facebook User

It was to prove to myself and no one else, that I had the physical and mental ability to do it.  It was for me a life changing achievement and I want to repeat it and I’m going to repeat it!  I did a marathon for my 40th (and got very bored with the training, hence triathlons now).  IM was for my 50th (with a 10min PB on the marathon from 10yrs ago).  For my 60th, I may go for an ultra! Who knows! As long as my body and mental strength hold out I want to keep seeing how far I can go.  I am not fast, but I am determined!!

fitnaturally

I think these achievements sit right up there with a wedding day or birth of a child with the euphoria they bring – and that is addictive.

I’m just not sure about what the guy who wrote the article is implying.  For example, that because everyone is doing IM it’s kinda not worthy.  So, he/people have to keep pushing more and more to be thought worthy or special.

Facebook User

He has been doing them for so long that for him they don’t mean a lot.  For many people that though of a 5k run is as huge as an ironman is for others and to demean that is a bit arrogant and disrespectful.  If I had been doing IM for as long as him, it would probably feel a big deal, but I would not forget how the average human being feels!

fitnaturally

A great point – well made.

Facebook User

Thanks mum!

Facebook User

I entered my first Ironman to take my mind off being 40.  (The race was 2 days after my 40th birthday)…….it worked!

fitnaturally

I imagine it did!  I think that throws up another point – endurance events often seem to come with age.

Facebook User

I think this is a long the same lines as the number of runner I see turning to ultras and going longer.  Whether its boredom, trying to push your body further or a sense of ego and accomplishment, I don’t know?

I have it on my bucket list to complete an ironman but that’s because I want to complete the race when I’m such a weak swimmer!

fitnaturally

Probably a mix of all those.

Facebook User

I am a rubbish swimmer as well and I was surprised how well the swim went and how quickly it seemed to be over, even if it was an hour and a half J

Facebook User

We all think we are not good enough sometimes.  But, if you really think about it, what aspect is it that’s not enough?  I find setting goals that aren’t time related takes the pressure off and reminds me that I am ok!

fitnaturally

Yes, rubbish swimmers can swim for an hour and a half in open water…..  x

Facebook User

I just want to know where my limits are – what I can achieve/deal with?  It gives perspective when things in ‘normal life’ get tough.

fitnaturally

So, it’s very grounding?

Facebook User

For me it is, but I’m sure it’s different things for different people.  The endurance aspect is the key for me, as it provides something ‘deeper’ that going short and faster just doesn’t seem to have?

fitnaturally

To be a bit female about it, endurance achievements touch more on emotions because you feel the whole range.

Facebook User

I don’t think that’s female at all Sally?  That’s exactly what I mean, you right through a mental journey, and some of that journey can only be achieved when you’re feeling low, at as if what you’re doing is impossible.  I would suggest that as soon as you’ve pushed through those points you now know them to be possible.  So, in order to re-visit them again, you have to choose a bigger adventure next time round? (If you want to continue learning that is!)

Facebook User

Doing endurance events takes me to the edge of my capabilities both physically and mentally.  But, it’s the mental side that gives me the deepest rewards.  It’s about looking inside yourself and seeing what you are capable of and what you overcome along the way.  The emotion on reaching the finish line or even completing big training sessions is a kind of raw, overwhelming feeling that leaves me humble and in awe at what I can do.  Not that I am fast or special.  Again, I don’t race for a set time but my goals are based around mental outcomes.

fitnaturally

And do you ever feel a need to do bigger, more and better?

Facebook User

Hmmm…… I think harder ironman’s at the moment.  I have looked at something else but I’m not there yet!

Facebook User

10 days before my first Ironman, I just find it rude.  At least with his big head I can knock him off his pedestal easily without fear of missing.

fitnaturally

He does seem to try and degrade the achievement a bit.

Facebook User

I did it because I was not sporty at school.  I took up running at 35.  Got bored of marathons so decided to do something else.  (That and I was told I was to be a grandma at 45 – I couldn’t possibly be that old!!!)  Now I’ve done that, I’m considering what is to be next.

fitnaturally

So, it makes you feel young and vibrant? Yes?

Facebook User

It made me feel invincible.  Or 15:55:22 in my case.

fitnaturally

That’s why I said ‘about’ because I thought I’m not gonna cover everyone whatever time I say.

Facebook User

I like to make the most of my money.

Facebook User

Personally, I do find it a bit annoying when so many people go on about ironman’s going longer etc., as if going longer is harder / tougher than for instant going faster!  For some I think they go longer because it’s less effort than going faster.  I know I could do an ironman because I’m stubborn, but would it permanently damage my knees so I won’t be able to compete – very possibly.  For me and my body getting faster at Olympic distances is a more interesting realistic challenge – just saying!

fitnaturally

I think there’s a lot of merit in choosing your distance and sticking with it and working to get faster.  For some that’s spring or only and other IM.  I think that’s doing it for just reasons, rather than going off it because everyone is doing it and talking about it with a ‘spit spit’ attitude, like this geeza.  Though each to his own views I suppose.

Facebook User

As a recent newcomer to IM, it was all about the personal challenge, the journey and to discover whether I could push my physical and mental boundaries to accomplish something which a couple of years ago, I would have thought impossible.  I was never sporty.  I was overweight and it wasn’t until 2008 when my cousin was diagnosed with terminal Motor Neurone Disease that I signed up with the charity to enter the Great North Run.  Sadly, he died 9 months after diagnosis, aged 46 and as a result changed my outlook on life, from someone who moseyed along to someone who now wants (and maybe needs) to try new things/challenges to see what I can achieve.  I loved my IM experience, loved the training and the great people I have met as a result.  Within a week of completing my first, I have entered another for next year.  I think part of me wants the post-race buzz to continue whilst a big part of me also wants to see how much I can improve, be the best that I can be.

fitnaturally

Inspirational.

I think it’s like doing anything big and scary; you have to really want to do it.  I’ve heard it likened to eating an elephant – you have to be very hungry!  I think those who do IM are very hungry for something and it gives them so much back; not least, as you imply, the friendships – the people you meet.  Same with any sport I suppose, but IM brings out some pretty raw emotions and people are so supportive.

I think it’s good to get old and think back on the amazing feelings those big events gave you, it’s quite profound.  It’s been an interesting thread, hearing what makes people do IM.  I’m sorry about your cousin – MND is a very cruel disease, I have a friend with it and it’s horrendous.

It’s interesting that you mention the word ‘need’.  That part of it worries me.  I see lots of iron people, doing what I do and I do sense a need in a lot of them and I wish they would realise that they are worthy enough of adoration without having to do repeated big events.  Then again, the euphoria is addictive.

I conclude that we are strange creatures.

Facebook User

And can I just say, I do love Sal’s “discussions, please” threads!

fitnaturally

They can be somewhat risky on my part!

Facebook User

I love a challenge.  I love thinking that I’m attempting to do the impossible (even though you know loads of people who have done it, it seems an impossible challenge).  Bur, I also like competing with myself.  Like, I couldn’t believe how many people I met on the K2B who had done the 40 miles more than once, but as soon as I finished and looked at my splits, I said “I think I can do it faster than that” and I REALLY want to do it again.  I still love and hate the training for a marathon.  I kind of love that it’s hard though.  I also love that sometimes you say “I ran 40 miles” and a non-runner will just nod and smile, and murmur, uh-huh, well done.  It makes me grin inwardly that I could have said 40 miles or 40 metres; they have no inkling of what it is I’ve done!   So, it’s not the kudos.  Well, OK, a bit, cos I AM mocking them.

fitnaturally

We probably shouldn’t continue to pretend that we don’t think we’re awesome.

Facebook User

Brilliant, now that certain parts of me are younger than I am (new hip), I often reflect back at what I’ve achieved and wonder would I swap the hip for fewer memories of challenges and life experiences.  Categorically, I’d say “no way”.  That said, like food actually ‘healthy’ is everything in moderation.  The problem for many is that moderation is a bit dull eating behaviours or exercising behaviours are similar.  Too little, too much, poor types all have their own consequences.  One thing I would say though is on my grave stone I’ve never wanted the message “Here lies Steve Young he has such lovely well cared for joints when he died!”

fitnaturally

He he!  I can relate!. I’ve heard it said about runners that they are the unhealthiest fittest people around – unhealthy meaning pranged up!  Totally agree, I’d rather have a hip replacement than a heart attack any day.

Facebook User

Funny, this article was published last year, weird they republished it.  It seemed to me at the time that Tim was trying to justify his decision to retire, obviously it had all been mundane and dull for him.  Strange though, I do these events for the personal challenge, not to compare against others or worry about how many people had completed one, on a global scale that must in the >0.00001% of the world’s population.  Not that it matters or ever will.

fitnaturally

I think we can safely say that Tim is on the naughty step.

Facebook User

Have to say, I think this author has missed the point a bit……anyway.

fitnaturally

Well, I hope he reads this thread.

Facebook User

So…..he thought IM was a challenge, until he read a book written by someone who had the opinion that it wasn’t a challenge.  (Disregarding those of countless others), now he no longer sees it as a challenge because it’s not listed in this book.

So, he devalued his achievements based on one person’s opinion.  (Maybe two writer and editor) and is now looking at doing something “harder and more extreme” in an effort to be able to impress people with the fact he’s completed something that someone he doesn’t know has listed in a book as being a challenge.

I think this says a lot about him personally.

And yes, we could all get to the stage where we could knock out an ultra without training – as long as our everyday activity level supported this.  (Also known as training by the way!).  Give him 12 months off and then let’s see him complete and IM without training shall we?  Also, isn’t a challenge personal?!  Some folk run their first 5k and are overjoyed and so they should be.  Sorry, I’m ranting now!

Facebook User

Ironman – just signed up to do my first next year – why?  The challenge, the fear, the overcoming the fear, the friendship, the banter – just a few phrases to start with.  I did a super sprint triathlon last year as my first journey into this world of tri sports – Olympic length this year so natural progression – ironman next.  Still the question of why?  Fitness, taking the challenge, strengthening my resolve in many ways, I cannot explain any more, but it’s not for fashionable purposes for sure.  I can go to the shops for fashion.

fitnaturally

Do you see anything different beyond ironman?  And how would you feel if there was nothing beyond ironman?

Facebook User

There would always be something beyond ironman – be it ultra-marathons, super swims, major bike John O’Groats to Lands’ End, but if I aspire to do them is a different matter.  Just want to achieve the first goal and then see what drives me next – it may be getting that PB in 10k like tonight!

Facebook User

Sal, I think you comment above sums it up.

Triathlon – not just ironman is a massive challenge.  It’s what I love about the sport.  From the beginner’s doing a sprint to the seasoned athlete doing an ironman or trying to get fast at standard distance it’s all a massive challenge!

I do think as you get more and more into the sport you can lose perspective on the level of achievement you have made and sometimes you need to take a step and look at where you have come from!

It’s not just about the challenge.  It’s about the friend you make and the fun you can have, it becomes part of your lifestyle!

fitnaturally

Lifestyle – yes, very much so and the making of likeminded friend and the camaraderie and support.

You’re right about people losing the level of achievement too, perhaps, hence the need to move on to something perceived as harder or more unusual.

Maybe it helps to define people and give them some kudos; so, when lots of people take up a sport, some people might feel they’re no longer special so have to go and do an ironman in space or something.

Facebook User

Takes a deep breath.

I don’t like ironman knocking.  It seems to be becoming a popular sport these days.

I would much rather look at the many positives IM racing brings.

However, for me it’s more about the journey than the destination.  I love the training but am not too fond of the race itself.  (Purely because I have so much time and effort invested there is a lot of pressure to fulfil your potential).

I have met many, many inspirational people doing it and I’m not about to chance now because of stuck up elitists.

fitnaturally

It’s the same if anything becomes popular I suppose – it becomes open to criticism.  Like marathons, I think the term ‘fun runner’ degrades the achievement.  Running 26.2 is a little beyond being a fun runner, whatever one of those is?!

I do like exploring the psychology behind it all though.

And yes, there are some very inspirational people in the sport, as there are pretty much everywhere actually – not just IM athletes.

Facebook User

I think that achievement is a positive thing to aim for in life, but it doesn’t have to be a physical challenge and it doesn’t have to be measured in terms of endurance.  However, with age, endurance becomes easier to achieve than speed?  (I haven’t done an IM or a marathon and can’t run, so I don’t expect to ever do one).  Maybe normal life is too ‘easy’ for most people these days too.  There are far harder things to endure / achieve than doing a triathlon event but fortunately, most people done have to face them.

fitnaturally

Someone on Twitter made the point that modern lives are boring/mundane, so we need these things to keep us fired up.

Facebook User

It’s easy to go long – it’s hard to go fast.

Facebook User

What a trite and patronising article.

Facebook User

I did 2 ironman’s in 2009 and 2010.  The first took me 16 hrs 27 mins, second 14 hrs 47 mins.  Since then I have run 5 marathons including one last Saturday that I didn’t train for, in 4hrs 53.  Am not able to do IM again because I broke my back in 2010, can’t ride my bike for so long anymore, but now it seems like IM has become the new marathon. 

I am looking to do more ultra-running just actually because I seem reasonably good at endurance stuff.  (It is all relative of course, I am not competitive but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it and enjoy it)… Though part of me wonders if it is just ‘because I can’ or if I feel I have to prove something or if there is a little part of ‘look what I can do’ about it.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar at the beginning of 2013 and can recognise that I used the endurance sport as avoidance behaviour and also when it started to get out of control.  If you can survive the training, you can do the race.  After the training, the race is easy….getting to the start line, trained but not burned out, in good shape and not injured.  That’s the real challenge.

Facebook User

One last thought……we can’t keep Tri on the fringes and expect funding or recognition for it as an Olympic and pro sport……Honestly!  Maybe he should try egg and spoon blind folded!

Facebook User

Doesn’t mean that it’s hard or that I’m anything special or different…..doesn’t care what others think but it makes me feel happier.  It’s also why I am striving for faster times and to go further distances…..would have been trying 5 ironman in 5 days from Saturday if I hadn’t got ill last week.  Shows that it’s all just fleeting…. You can train all year but you are not ever in control over things…..left now without knowing if I could have done it or not.

Facebook User

It has to be done for personal reasons….I wanted a challenge because I haven’t achieved anything else in my life and wanted to do something I felt proud of….I did and do.

Facebook User

It’s different for everyone I suspect.  I entered my first IM impulsively.  I told my coach Ian Mayhew, I was doing one as then I felt accountable.  I am impulsive and make decisions without thinking which means I don’t have time to worry about what’s entailed.  For me, the first time was a massive challenge mostly because of the swim and bike.

Facebook User

The psychology behind endurance events really interests me. Reading everyone’s thoughts below shows that we all have our own reasons for pursuing certain paths in life. I have done two marathons. It was like a progression type thing, first a 5k, then 10k, then half marathon, then a marathon. Then I felt I was a ‘proper’ runner, albeit not a super speedy one. I have done quite a few sprint triathlons and did my first Olympic distance this year. My thoughts have now turned to half-ironman and ironman distance. Interestingly I don’t really enjoy actually doing triathlons, only when I cross the finish line do I feel great. I enjoy the training for the separate disciplines but putting them altogether feels very hard. I suppose I will only feel like a ‘proper’ triathlete when I have done an ironman. It’s like ticking a box. I was never a sporty type person until about 11 years ago, so being able to do these things now feels good. The training and racing is also quite a therapeutic process. I think it can give people a focus, a control in their life, a feel good factor, a sense of achievement and for some who have an external locus of evaluation, a sense of value from other peoples praise. I could talk about this all night. 


So I think we can conclude that Ironman is still a pretty tough challenge, despite so many people taking part. And emotions run high around this particular race distance; which is unsurprising as people invest so much of their time into training for it. As triathletes it seems as if ‘everyone is doing it’ but in reality, how many people in your street, in your workplace, in your town or village do you know who have completed an Ironman? Not very many.

Too common? The concensus is……NO.

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