What does it take to be an Ironman?


Devin Vaudreuil, writer


The five most coveted words in a triathlete’s career: “Congratulations! You are an Ironman!” But what does it take to hear that? To receive that?

I am training for Ironman Chattanooga, a 140.6 mile triathalon consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle ride, and a marathon run. While my full-on training hasn’t started yet, and won’t get really serious until about mid-April, I have been around my dad long enough to know what it takes to finish.

First, it takes a strong mental game. Racing is 80% mental and 20% of the training you put in. How do you build a strong mental game? One way is to ride the trainer (similar to a stationary bike, but you can actually put your bike on it) for several hours; this happens on particularly rainy days or in the evenings. Another variable is the hours you spend swimming laps at the Southern pool, or at the dam.

Nutrition plays into it too – avoiding sweets as often as possible and skipping out on the heavy meals. During training and racing, you take gels that have the necessary carbs and caffeine you need to keep going. Just because you exercise daily doesn’t mean you get to eat whatever you want.

Most people mistake the training as the easy part and the race as the goal. Finishing the race is the goal; racing is the reward for the half a year you put into training.