Updated 27th October 2010
Year after year more and more people really want to make it to the Hawaiian Ironman in Kona, the granddaddy of all Ironmans, the Ironman World Championships. Competition is fierce to secure one of the 1800 coveted spots to the Big Island and the qualification times seem to get faster and faster.
The Hawaii Ironman holds an allure that is irresistible to many people and drives their desire to participate. Some want to find out if they have what it takes to battle the infamous trade winds and the heat that radiates up from the solidified volcanic rock and others want to be able to run down Alii Drive to the cheers of thousands of spectators as they cross the most famous of all Ironman finishes.
(I use the term battle loosely as you’ll never win a fight against whatever Madame Pele decides to dish out on race day but you do get to combat yourself.)
To increase your chances of getting one of those slots I have listed the top 8 things you need to be doing:
#1. First you just need to decide. And I dont mean one of those half-assed decisions that you know just won’t stick – it has to be a decision that you are going to back 100% with consistent action. There will be many times along the journey where you might question if you can do it – just keep moving forward, push through adversity and you will succeed.
#2. If you really want to fast-track this, you need to get a coach or at the very least consult with people that regularly make it to the Big Dance. Make sure you ask all the tough questions and obtain honest and realistic answers – not just the ones you may want to hear. Some people will get there sooner than others but everyone should have a long-term view.
#3. Once you have a good coach or people to consult with, make sure you follow the advice and plans given. If you continually jump ship on the ‘next best thing then you pretty much kill your chances. Long-term consistency is king in this game.
#4. When I first wrote this back in 2009, I said don’t put all your qualifying eggs in one basket. Unfortunately these days you have little choice with races selling out before it even gets to general online entries. So what is of utmost importance is choosing your qualifying race wisely: make sure it’s suited to your strengths and gives you the greatest chance of getting a spot (whether its qualifying outright or through a roll-down). Then you just need a great plan, discipline, and consistency to give yourself the best shot of making it happen.
#5. Look after your body. Maximise your chances by getting 7 to 8 hours sleep every night fuelling your body well and hydrating correctly. Your body is an amazing machine but if you treat it like junk then that is what you’ll get back! As the saying goes — Garbage in garbage out. I’m amazed at the multitude of athletes that spend their dollars chasing speed with aero helmets, light components etc but don’t think about what foods they shove down there throats. Results are much more than just the training and equipment.
#6. Give some loving to your muscles with daily self myofascial release (SMR) using TP Therapy Tools and, if you can, a weekly massage. Don’t forget that loving your muscles includes good fuel, electrolytes and working the great things daily.
#7. Develop absolute certainty that you’ll get here. (*I wrote this article in Kona before race day 2009.) Then take massive action daily, and always do your best. It took me three very focused race attempts over 15 months to finally get my place. I missed by one spot twice and one of those was 6 seconds! I just never gave up.
#8. Ensure your training and lifestyle has anabolic (growth) stimulus, because if it’s all catabolic you will break down it wont be a matter of if, but when. What is catabolic? Massive amounts of aerobic training, sleep deprivation, high work and family stress, a diet high in processed foods, sugar and saturated fats to name a few.
#9. No matter what ‘others’ are publicly stating… It does not mean giving up your life for 18+ months and 7 months of hard 20+ hour training weeks. That is B.S. Give me 12-15h weeks consistently and you’ll get there.
* I originally wrote this article on October 9, 2009- updated October 27, 2010