Last week, I met with a new coaching client who is training for an Ironman. He mentioned that he was excited to work with me, yet truthfully, a bit scared. The reason for the timidness was that he had heard that I put my athletes on a pretty aggressive schedule.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Ironman distance and the Ironman experience. I want all of my athletes to show up on race day knowing they are ready to tackle the distance. I want them confident that they are there to "race" and I'm also very proud of the ease in which my athletes recover from an Ironman. Of course, this is a relative thing, but most of my athletes feel pretty good in post race week.
This isn't about defending my coaching style but more so defending the respect of endurance events. Let's take marathons for example. Doesn't it seem that there are a lot of people showing up at marathons not really prepared to run a marathon? Look at the debacle at Chicago. Yes, most will say that was a result of the freakish hot weather on that day, but it was in the high 70's to low 80's! That's hot for a stand alone marathon, but for most IM competitors, that's the average IM marathon temperatures. Running out of water on race day in Chicago was a huge faux pas by the race director, but I think the bigger issue was that most weren't prepared properly. Look at the staggering amount of people participating in marathons each year. I think that most people would love to have "finished a marathon" on their life resumes and don't take into account the training and preparation involved to do one well. Well meaning "run" the marathon. Time is mostly irrelevant because there are all different abilities, but I think a marathon should be run. The news and tabloids were filled with pictures of Katie Holmes the day after she "fast walked" the NYC marathon! Tom was so proud. Give me a break! There are a lot of coaching programs now stating that "you to can complete a marathon in just 10 weeks of training". Not if you don't have a solid running base built before beginning those ten weeks. I don't feel there is a respect for the distance and if I get flamed for stating this, so be it.
Now, you are beginning to see this filter into Ironman races. I have been asked frequently if I'll be racing an IM again next season, to which I respond "I'm not sure yet". I have to much respect for the event to not show up at the starting line in my best condition ready to race. I no desire to do an IM just to do one. I could set a date to cover the distances from my house if I felt I needed to prove to myself that I could still cover the distances.
Endurance races are just that - "races". Anyone who has prepared well for one and raced one knows that the event deserves the respect of showing up at the starting line fully prepared. If you want the label but aren't really interested in doing the work, you need to question what your principals are to begin with.