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How To Become An IRONMAN

On Sunday 7th May members of our international school community, including staff and parents, completed the IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam, an endurance race designed to test an individual’s mental and physical capabilities.

  • BISHCMC Athelete MAX  in the Danang IRONMAN 1-min - Copy

A sprint race ran concurrently to the 70.3. A sprint is a 750m swim, followed by a 20km bike and 5 km run. Max Jencks, who is a student at BIS HCMC Secondary, completed the sprint in just 01:33 putting him first in his age group.

When asked “what is your greatest endurance ambition?” his reply was simply: “This, by far.”

Max’s father Cosimo also completed the sprint, and his mother Yen, anchored a relay team, that competed in the half IRONMAN, running a half in 01:45. Max, who is surrounded by inspiration and motivation, said:

“I feel like just constant support from friends and family just helps give you that extra push in competitions like these, this was my first and just the constant helpful messages contributed largely.”

Inspiration and motivation are one thing, but why would anyone want to put themselves through such a gruelling experience?

Chris La Grange, 70.3 race finisher and BIS HCMC Parent answered with; “A bit like Edmund Hillary said: because it’s there. Many humans are driven to achieve ‘extremes’ when the right combination of factors come together. The extremes invariably involve mind over matter. It’s not because you have to, but because you want to, maybe driven to by yourself.”

My curiosity satisfied, the next question I asked was how? How does someone who is, at best, ‘out of shape’ become an IRONMAN?

I asked a man who did just that, Todd Gilmore, Ironman Certified coach, owner of The Endurance Academy, one of the organisers of IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam and BIS HCMC Parent. Todd, completed his first Triathlon in 2009 and was instantly hooked. Now a 7 time Ironman,12 time 70.3 and multiple shorter distance event finisher.

“Triathlon is one sport but with three disciplines. Unofficially, it is important to note that there are two other disciplines, nutrition and recovery. All of these make a good triathlete. This is the appeal of the sport to many. Striking the balance of training, addressing your limiters, overcoming them and then executing a plan during a race. Like many aspects of life, it is not simple and requires focus and consistent training habits. The fitness gained is total body and mental strength.”

With Todd’s words ringing in my ears, I had to ask those who completed the IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam the same thing.

What advice would you have for anyone (particularly students) who want to take on any kind of endurance training with a view to one day completing a triathlon?

 

Chris La Grange, Parent

“Do not doubt, not for one second, that you can do it. You’ll see from the photos that few of us are the sleek racing snake types, just ordinary people, many carrying a kg or two too many. The pros are, well pros, and they do look the part but with the other 99% of us, the important things are all in your head. You’ll need to put in a good 10 -12 hours of training a week over 4 or more months, and still keep work colleagues and family on side. This means leaving the house for a bike or a run usually at sunrise, lunch time sessions and long 3 hour bike rides followed by (shorter) runs on weekends. One day off per week is all you can give yourself. Consistency is the key, get a program (it must match your training needs and then your progress) and stick to it, fervently. Flash gear, at entry level, will not make you faster – spend the money on a coach, which most definitely will.”  

This won't be the last we hear from Chris either as he has every intention of doing a full IRONMAN. His reasons? "To prove a point to myself but even more so I would like to see my son and training partner, Richard, do a full Ironman. I’d like to get a podium place within my age group."

Stephanie Webb, PE Teacher/Head of Year 10

  1. Definitely have a realistic and achievable training programme, this takes the pressure off deciding what to do each day and reassures you that you are progressing.

  2. Be kind to yourself – you can’t smash every session, sometimes you just have to be pleased that you are doing something.

  3. Don’t compare yourself to others, just be happy with what you are achieving. Everyone has different strengths and finds different parts easier and harder.

Mark Spalton, Learning Support Assistant/Head of House

“I think we are all a lot more resilient than we think.  If you commit to an endurance event like this, once you’re in it most people won’t stop until they’ve got themselves to the finish.  My tips would be to start off with some smaller target distances.  Once you reach these you’ll realise how much you are actually capable off, you’ll have got fitter in the process and be able to set new targets a bit further, and as you reach them you’ll soon realise you can go further and further until you’re doing distances you never thought you could do.  My number one tip for completing an endurance race like this is to come up with a simple plan that fits in with your life and which you know you can follow.  If you have to keep deliberating and reorganising every week what you should be doing and when, it will be so much harder than if you make a simple plan from the outset that you can quickly check to see what you have to do and follow it without thinking too much.”

Max Jencks, Year 9 Student

“Train hard, harder than you think you should, and just enjoy the events.”

IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam is already planning for the 4th edition next year, and will be looking for bilingual volunteers. There will be an abundance of roles so don’t hold back! This is a great way for anyone to experience the event first hand.

If you would like any more information about the race or about how to train for the race, you can contact Todd directly via his website.

Be inspired, be ambitious...

Lucy Glynn, Online Marketing Officer

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