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Rik talks triathlons: part three – working towards an Ironman Triathlon

The London Marathon 2022 has recently taken place and so hopefully you are feeling inspired to take on a new fitness challenge!  Why just run, when you can add in swimming and cycling to make it a full body workout?  In the final part of our triathlon series, Rik explains that his ultimate goal is to complete an Ironman Triathlon and he gives us his top tips for someone interested in triathlons.


What impact has doing triathlons had on your overall fitness?

It is an all-round body workout and you feel the benefit of each discipline.  You feel the power from cycling when you are running and the swimming gives you more rotation and flexibility.  Triathlon training is great for all-round body strength and conditioning.  If you were a runner, you would have to bolt on extra elements to get the strength and conditioning that triathlon training gives you.


Has doing triathlons made you a better runner?

Yes.  It has improved the strength and conditioning in my core and parts of my legs that wouldn’t be reached by just running. 

In a triathlon, the run is the third discipline, which means you are already fatigued and so this is a challenging position.  You are running against the tide and you have to run through that.  When you do a run on its own, it is a lot easier when you have trained for this as a third discipline.

Due to your body state when you get to the run, it is much more important to focus on your form and rhythm than if you were just doing a run as a single event.  You can get injured if you aren’t running in a straight line, for example.


What’s your next goal?

My next goal is the next level up from the Olympic distance, which is the Half Ironman.  It is pretty much double again in terms of the distances.


Do you have a specific Half Ironman in mind?

Yes, I am hoping to do a Half Ironman in Majorca, which takes place in March next year.  It is all about timing now.  As the weather is changing, this has an effect on your training.  I will spend the winter cycling on my turbo machine indoors, swimming in a leisure centre pool and running when I can.  Most triathletes focus on their technique in winter.


That sounds like a nice location!  Will this be your first triathlon abroad?

Yes, it will!  The Knutsford Tri Club has singled this event out and they are trying to get as many members as possible to take part, so there will be good support and camaraderie.  I won’t be doing it alone as I’ll have team mates there with me. 

The reward will be some time in the sun after the event!  If you are training for something like this, you have to have something after it as a reward.  You have to fit three disciplines into your schedule when you are training and you do it alongside work and family commitments, so it can be intense.


What’s your ultimate triathlon goal?

Every triathlete’s goal is to do the full distance, so a full Ironman is what you hope to do.  At the moment that feels inhuman and I can’t see that it is possible, but I said that about the Olympic distance when I first started!  The training takes you to the next level.  Once I’ve done the Half Ironman, I’ll see a chink of light!


What does an Ironman Triathlon involve?

It is a 2.4-mile swim, then a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a marathon.  There are timing points throughout the whole event that you have to meet, which is normally 17 hours.  If you don’t finish it within that time, you have to stop, which adds a whole new level to it.  It would be soul-destroying to not finish the event.  For an Ironman, you’re not only training well enough to complete it, but you have to train well enough to do the Ironman well enough!


Wow, an Ironman Triathlon certainly sounds intense!  What’s your best advice for someone interested in triathlons?

The first thing is to join a club.  They give you help, advice and support.  There’s everything you need in a good club and most are good ones.  Speaking to the other members means you get advice and encouragement and you can get second-hand gear as well.

My other piece of advice is to get the best kit that you can afford, as you don’t want your kit to let you down after all the training you’ve done.


Thank you, Rik, for that fascinating insight into your triathlon journey and for the great advice.  Good luck with the Half Ironman training!


If Rik has inspired you to get into triathlons, there are a number of different events that take place across the UK each year, for example, the Dorney Triathlon and the new Llandudno Triathlon.  With shorter days and colder weather fast approaching, check out these tips for winter running and the ideal winter nutrition strategy.  Get yourself ready for winter training by browsing our exciting new arrivals!

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