To get in the best shape of your life.1 of 8
It's safe to assume that if you're considering an IRONMAN, you've done a triathlon before (if not, you should). But even if you've finished a 70.3 race, the transition to 140.6 is substantial. The countless hours in the pool, on the bike and on the trails will catapult you into a new echelon of fitness, where a half marathon is just another casual training day. You'll shed pounds, probably get a tan and overall just feel fit. Plus, not only will you gain a ton of stamina, you'll be more positive, too.
To eat whatever you want.2 of 8
Training for 15-plus hours a week puts your metabolism on overdrive. If you crave pizza after a Saturday century ride, go ahead and indulge. While a more performance-oriented diet will yield better results, sometimes a greasy slice (or three) is just what the doctor ordered. Expect your grocery bill to almost double, though. It's more than likely you'll be hungry again within a couple of hours.
To change your habits.3 of 8
Training for an IRONMAN requires you to lead a more regimented lifestyle. Long training hours almost guarantee an early bedtime since a healthy sleep schedule will help reduce fatigue and injury. Additionally, an optimized diet will help you perform better, so you'll naturally stay away from highly processed or fatty foods. Training for an IRONMAN is a great opportunity to quit smoking or drinking, too. Triathlon in general is a wholesome sport, where personal choices and performance gains go hand-in-hand.
To make active friends.4 of 8
IRONMAN attracts a certain type of individual. While triathlon is a solo sport, joining a tri club or masters swim is a great way to meet people with the same goals and mindset. Century rides and trail runs are more fun with a group of people, and these athletes can be great motivation when you're in a training slump. Plus, unlike your friends and family, your new tri friends understand exactly what an IRONMAN is--asking "when?" rather than "why?"
To buy fancy new gear.5 of 8
Because triathlon is three sports rolled into one, it requires a lot of gear. While your old steel frame road bike worked fine for shorter races, IRONMAN, by nature, requires a more refined arsenal. It's going to be costly, but this is your opportunity to buy the carbon wheels, aero triathlon bike and aero helmet you've been drooling over. Not only will you post faster splits, but you'll be more comfortable doing so. There's nothing worse than sitting on an uncomfortable bike for 112 miles and then running a marathon afterwards.
To take a vacation.6 of 8
Whether it's somewhere in the U.S. or out of the country, traveling to a destination race is a great way to experience an IRONMAN. Traveling to an IRONMAN is usually a family event, so choosing a scenic locale with things to do makes the experience more enjoyable for your spectators. And at this point you'll have put all the hard work in, so you might as well sit back and relax post-race on a white sand beach or in the mountains.
To earn bragging rights.7 of 8
All IRONMAN finishers remember the first time Mike Reilly announces, "You are an IRONMAN!" at the finish line. It makes the entire experience real, and suddenly the 140.6 miles seem totally worth the pain and effort. Some competitors tattoo an M-Dot on their calf as a badge of honor, while others proudly wear a finisher's jacket around town. Either way, being an IRONMAN finisher (and the habits that follow) is something that sticks with you for the rest of your life. And it's likely it won't be your last.