Are you thinking of training for an Ironman triathlon?Today I want to share with you Sonia’s First Ironman triathlon story with an interview.
When she first started training for an Ironman triathlon she was a little apprehensive about whether she could achieve her goal.
By taking the time to consider her goal and following a progressive Ironman training plan she successfully completed Ironman Wales.
Not only did she complete the toughest Ironman on the planet, but she did it in a fast time too! I persuaded her to share her experience and I hope this inspires you to enter your first Ironman too.
Training For An Ironman – Goals
1. Why did you start training for an Ironman triathlon? Tell us about your fitness background.
I have been doing triathlons for seven years. I used to do running at school and entered my first sprint triathlon in 2006 – the Chester triathlon. I obviously enjoyed this so entered another sprint triathlon, the same one the following year, which I won!
From then I decided to have a go at representing Great Britain in the age-group triathlon world championships in Germany in 2007 and then in Vancouver in 2008. I decided to concentrate on longer triathlons like the half Ironman distance Little Woody triathlon and Ironman Wales.
2. What was your ultimate goal?
My goal was to complete Ironman Wales triathlon in less than 12 hours. I have accomplished this now with a time of 11h40mins so now I would like to do another one and beat my time.
3. What motivates you to do Triathlon?
I’m quite competitive and triathlon is something I can achieve in. I also find it much more difficult to train without a goal. I like to do well in things and I like to do exercise too because it allows me to eat what I want to eat.
Challenges Of Training For An Ironman Triathlon
4. How do you manage training with work?
I work varying hours so sometimes I can train in the morning. I know what hours I work so fit my training into my day. I have a triathlon training programme and follow this. I usually perform my longer training sessions at the weekend because this is when I have most time.
5. If I could wave a magic wand for you right now what challenge would you overcome?
Not getting fat from eating biscuits. Joke.
I would like to be able to do Ironman training and not have it taking up all my weekends. Financially too I would like to have enough money to enter Ironman again, maybe in Europe. They are very expensive to enter and if you do several triathlons in a year they mount up to a lot!
What About Ironman Training Sessions?
6. What is your favourite training session?
Run-Bike-Run sessions called ‘brick’ sessions are my favourite. These might consist of for example a 15minute bike interval followed by a 15 minute run interval, times 4, at quite a hard pace. There is no rest between disciplines. I like these sessions because they have variation and a 2hour session will pass quite quickly.
7. Do you integrate weights and resistance training in your triathlon training? Or is it purely swim, bike and run sessions?
Yes most of the time I do. I found it difficult to do this while training for Ironman because there wasn’t enough time so I sometimes missed these sessions in favour of long bike rides.
I do try to fit in some bike-weights sessions where I will complete say a 3minute hard bike interval followed by deadlifts, and I repeat this 5 times. In hindsight I will prioritise my strength training especially for the longer triathlons because I feel it helps a lot.
8. What is your best discipline – your strength?
Swimming is my worst sport (third best sport Sonia!!) because I am not very good at it! It involves a lot of technique and I can put a lot of time and effort into it and not see much improvement. I find this frustrating.
Ironman distance triathlon is better for me in terms of swimming because although I am not very fast I can maintain a set pace for a long time. Also the swim is proportionally a smaller part of the race than in a shorter distance triathlon and this plays to my advantage.
I like running and cycling equally. I have always been a runner and so enjoy that bit, and I have always been quite good at it. I have always been quite a strong runner. In the past I have tended to get injured from running so my cycling has become quite strong because I can put more time into it and not get injured. Also I love being out on my bike.
The Ironman Itself – What Was It Like?
9. What part of the Ironman Triathlon did you most enjoy?
Finishing it! Surprisingly I did enjoy the swim because it went well, the sea was calm and I felt quite relaxed. I finished in a good time of 1h4mins. I found the last bit of the cycle hard because it was hilly and I just wanted to get off my bike. Then the run was mentally tough because it was laps, however it was nice to get off my bike and run to stretch my legs.
10. What was the finish line like?
Pretty amazing! There was a good atmosphere with lots of people and crowds shouting. I couldn’t believe I had done it in less than 12 hours. It felt nice to finally stop since my quads were quite painful! I was tired by then and got cold quite quickly once I stopped.
11. What do your family and friends think? Are they supportive?
Yes my family and friends all think I’m crazy and I did this for charity so everyone was very supportive.
12. How did you feel about entering, and what made you decide to do so?
I wanted a challenge and Ironman seems like the ultimate challenge. When I entered I felt a little bit scared and daunted. I decided to enter Ironman while I felt I had time to train for it and I wanted to raise money for the RNLI.
One Piece Of Ironman Training Advice
13. What is your one piece of advice for someone who has set himself or herself a big personal challenge? Would you recommend entering and training for an Ironman triathlon?
Have a triathlon training plan and stick to it. Don’t panic if you miss a training session or if life gets in the way. Yes I’d definitely recommend entering an Ironman if you have the time to commit to it. If you haven’t it is a struggle and you may not do as well as you want to. If you do enter it is a great challenge to take on and you feel a big sense of achievement afterwards.
I hope all this inspires you to enter and start training for an Ironman – and I’d love to help you achieve it.
If you aren’t training for an Ironman triathlon just yet, and want to to get started before you purchase a training plan you can get started with a free guide right here. Please feel free to email or call me, or comment and share below if you have questions. Happy training! Nico.