Two-time Iron­man world cham­pion Chris McCor­mack ex­plains how to get into the sport and what to ex­pect dur­ing a race

Men's Fitness - - Injury -

An Iron­man – a triathlon com­pris­ing a 3.8km swim, 180km cy­cle and a 42km run – is the big­gest phys­i­cal chal­lenge that’s avail­able to ev­ery­one. It’s a bit like an achiev­able Ever­est. You’ll find an event to en­ter no mat­ter where in the world you live, and it’s made up of three dis­ci­plines that most peo­ple can al­ready do.


I took on my first one when I was 29. I had al­ready been a pro triath­lete for six years and was the world num­ber one, and af­ter the Syd­ney Olympics in 2000 I de­cided the time was right to move up to the longer dis­tance. I re­ally suf­fered dur­ing the first race, but when I crossed that fin­ish line I’d never felt such a sense of achieve­ment.

To train for one you need bags of mo­ti­va­tion and a good base of fit­ness – you’re look­ing at about six months of train­ing up to 20 hours a week to get ready. It’s best to have done a fair few triathlons be­fore you take on an Iron­man. You can go straight into one from the Olympic dis­tance (1.6km swim, 40km cy­cle, 10km run) with­out do­ing a half Iron­man (1.9km swim, 90km cy­cle, 21km run) – but you’re more likely to fin­ish your first race if you move up through the dis­tances.

Even if you do a half Iron­man, be pre­pared for an Iron­man to feel com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Although it’s only twice the dis­tance, the cu­mu­la­tive fa­tigue makes it feel like it’s much fur­ther.


The first thing to do is link up with a triathlon club and find peo­ple you can go on the jour­ney with. Train­ing for an Iron­man solo can be a lonely ex­pe­ri­ence, but with a crew it’s fun. Get­ting suits, a bike and shoes that fit you prop­erly is ex­pen­sive but es­sen­tial – if you’re un­com­fort­able, you’ll re­ally suf­fer.

To my mind, achiev­ing any goal is only worth the jour­ney you take to ac­com­plish it. And tack­ling an Iron­man is pretty much the most epic jour­ney all of us can go on. Chris McCor­mack’s book I’m Here To Win is avail­able now. For more visit mac­

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