Re: When should you take on an ironman?

In de november issue van Triathlete Europe stond het volgende artikel van Matt Fitzgerald (overigens is zijn boek Iron War over de Ironman in Kona van 1989 een absolute aanrader):

Over het artikel was ik minder enthousiast. Matt ging in op de vraag wanneer je de stap naar een volledige triathlon zou moeten maken en wat je hier van zou kunnen verwachten. In het kort komt zijn advies er op neer dat je een paar jaar kortere afstanden moet doen, dan een jaar je kapot moet trainen om je eerste ironman ‘voor de ervaring’ te doen. Aangezien ik het hier niet mee eens ben heb ik een mail gestuurd naar het tijdschrift met mijn overwegingen. Tot mijn verbazing werd deze brief ook gepubliceerd als ‘brief van de maand’ en krijg ik een thermo jersey als dank.

Onderstaand mijn ingezonden stuk.

Dear Sir,

Reading the article written by Matt Fitzgerald (whose opinions I generally very much appreciate!) on when to step up to Ironman reminds me of what I was being told when I did my first marathon. And what people told me when I did my first Marmotte (a 174km cyclosportive that finishes up Alpe d’Huez). This year was my second year in triathlon and I did my first ironman distance triathlon. Of course everyone reminded me to not focus on a goal time and just go through the experience. Since I beat my goal time in both my first marathon and my first Marmotte I had an idea on where I wanted to be after 226 kilometers of swim, bike and run. And that was exactly where I was after 10 hours, 29 minutes and 9 seconds. With 51 seconds to spare. I don’t think my goal times were too easy to achieve in the above mentioned events. I agree with Matt that athletes that only want to finish an ironman should simply be physically ready to do so, which takes some endurance training. For those of us that want to achieve a goal time and are realistic albeit challenging about themselves I think it is vital to have markers along the road, which a goal time (and splits) gives us. In your first Ironman the (last part of the) marathon is terra incognita where your mind takes over from your body. This is the part that changes you, like Macca wrote in his ever inspiring musings. Without a goal time I don’t think I would have pushed as much as I did the final kilometers during the run leg of my ironman. Doing so and achieving my goal time really pushed me to a natural high in which state I remained for a week. I’ve never felt better. I would not have been disappointed if I had been 10 minutes slower, but again, having a goal time in mind helped keeping my focus during each leg and helped me pushing during the final part of the run. My advice for aspiring ironmen would be to set a goal time but be flexible enough to adjust if necessary.

Yours sincerely,
Maarten Caminada
The Netherlands

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