Learning to Iron

learning to iron

2016 has been a year of newness so far. What is this newness of which I speak?

  • 1st spring marathon
  • 1st race outside Ireland
  • 1st time in Paris

…Yes, okay, there isn’t THAT much newness, but people – Hold your breath. Put the phone away. Stop everything that you’re doing. And listen up. Cuz…






Let’s get real? No – Let’s get iron. Because (I imagine…) there are few things on this earth capable of giving you a sudden, physical cold dose of reality more than a smack-you-around-the-head, shake-you-to-your-bones, reduce-you-to-crying-heap-in-the-middle-of-the-road IRONMAN. It tests you everywhere, inside and out, and there is nowhere to hide. 

Dublin 70.3 will be my first Ironman event. I’ve done a few olympic distance triathlons in the last 2 years but never anything longer than that. When I did my first sprint distance triathlon, I finished it wanting to push myself further and do a longer race. I have yet to finish an olympic distance tri feeling this way. I love the olympic distance because I know it’s a distance I can finish but it also feels like a real challenge for me and there’s no reward or satisfaction in it for me if I don’t feel like I’ve had to dig deep and push hard.

Hence, Ironman.

Ironman scares the crap out of me. Even the shouty text that they use in IRONMAN makes me cower (That’s why I’m moving away from using the shouty capitals…) I find the olympic distance tri a challenge but last year I found myself wondering as I was midway through the 10k run of tri in the North of Ireland, whether I could do a half-ironman. It’s tempting and seductive, with all its impressive promises of glory and exclusive club membership to only the very tough. Even those little Ironman tattoos you get to wear.

I’m not going to lie – I have doubts.

Doubts about whether I’ll crack up in the water somewhere between 1.5k and 1.9k because it feels like it’s never-ending and I am NEVER getting back to the shore. And why do the orange buoys keep moving? Are the marshalls moving them? Or are they just moving themselves? Hang on, wait. Am I being pulled further out to sea because of a current? Oh my God, I want to cry.

Doubts about whether I’ll be able to ride 93km AT ALL.

Doubts about whether I’ll be able to run 10 feet after riding for 93km. Never mind your half-marathon. Sadistic bastards Funny people.

But I can’t help but be drawn to it. I love a challenge, I love the thrill of pushing myself outside my comfort zone into unchartered territory and frankly I quite love scaring the shit out of myself by doing something where there is a good chance of failure but a massive reward at the end of it, if you succeed.

Partly why I became a barrister.

Awesome when it works out.


It doesn’t always work out.

Confession: I think this makes me both a gambler and a sadist. To seek out something that scares you and physically punishes you, but from which you also derive pleasure…. Tangent. Sorry.

On a practical level, introducing an Ironman 70.3 into my running/tri year in August means that my training plan from April-November is going to be very different this year. Rather than 5 runs a week (3 easy, 1 medium-long, 1 long), my weekly training plan is likely to involve 3 bike, 2 swims, strength work and 4-5 runs. I realise that most triathlon training schedules do not include as many runs as this but as I will be starting to train for the Dublin marathon in May/June, I’ll need to remain focused on marathon training as well. This can be reviewed as the training progresses and if I feel it’s too much, I can adjust my plan.

My 16 week Ironman training plan will start in the last week of April and between then and now, I’ll be doing 2-3 cycles a week, 1-2 swims and next week I’m hoping (touch wood) to start back doing some running. This is rest and recovery time, with just some non-weight bearing cardio time to keep up some level of fitness but more importantly….to keep me sane.

As for the Ironman fear…. Well you know what they say…

He She who dares, wins.



2 thoughts on “Learning to Iron

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