Very few sporting events come close to Ironman for the sheer duration of continuous activity.

With the winners finishing the race in around eight and a half to nine hours, and the tail end of the race coming in about 10 hours later, it is truly a long day at the office.

Speaking of a long day at the office, I just returned from a training camp in Penticton, British Columbia in preparation of Ironman Canada. My wife, Caroline, and I trained for a total of 13 hours over 3 days. During this time, something she said three weeks ago kept popping into my head. With the average competitor taking roughly 13 hours to cross the finish line, she observed, "Ironman is more of a long, slow distance training day, than an all out race."

Obviously some urgency is required if cut off times are a concern, but for the majority of us, it is a long day of steady and sustained output.

Pushing to hard at any time will certainly have dire consequences at a later stage of the event. I believe that the primary goal for the average, middle of the pack participant should be energy conservation and avoiding putting undue stress on the muscles to early on in the day.

I have created a few challenges that I am going to keep in mind over the next 2 months to ensure I am able to optimally conserve as much energy as possible, and avoid burning my muscles out early on:
  1. I am going to let faster athletes pass, without reacting and trying to hold their pace.
  2. I am going to focus solely on my own race strategy and try to ignore what others are doing. I will not get drawn into racing someone elses race
  3. If I feel like I am in trouble, I am going to back off the intensity for a few minutes, reassess the situation, and then make as calm a decision as possible.
  4. I am going to try to smile as much as possible throughout the day!
The bottom line is that any Iron distance triathlon runs its course over an entire day, so what is the rush?

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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