Yes, there are some people who just don't feel like they get enough exercise when doing an Ironman. For that person there are events like Ultraman Florida. How does a person even begin to undertake such an event? LifeSport Coach and Ultraman Florida race director Chuck Kemeny has some ideas for you.
If you are a driven triathlete, who has completed one or more Ironman triathlons and are looking for a new way to challenge yourself , you might be ready to step into Ultraman triathlon distance. What is an Ultraman triathlon? It is a 3 day race covering 318.6 miles. Day 1 consists of a 6.2 mile swim and a 90 mile bike. The competition continues Day 2 with a 170 mile bike. The event finishes on Day 3 with a double marathon.
Those distances might seem intimidating, but with the right tools, they can lead you to one of the most amazing experiences of your life.
Here is some advice for those considering taking on the Ultraman distance:
- Build a solid foundation - It is advisable that athletes have trained and raced an Ironman distance triathlon prior to considering an Ultraman. Why? It helps to ensure that the athlete is capable of handling the training required to complete an Ironman prior to considering training and racing an Ultraman. Injury is the number 1 reason an athlete does not make the start line for an Ultraman event. Smart training and a good foundation are crucial to preventing this misstep.
- Learn to fuel your body - Proper fueling during training and on race days are key. If an athlete fuels properly, their body will not only perform better for the given effort, but it will recover better from one day to the next. Being able to perform well day after day is key in stage racing. It is also vital that an athlete trains with what will be used during the race. You don't change your bike on race day and you shouldn't change your nutrition either.
- Develop a recovery program - Recovery isn't emphasized as much in single day races. Stage racing is a different beast and recovery becomes key for performing well over consecutive days of the race. Fueling is a major component of recovery. Other things to consider are massage, compression, ice baths, and recovery nutrition products. Replenishment of nutrients and managing inflammation in the body is key to proper recovery.
- Plan a strategy for the race - Unlike the single day races, Ultraman requires a plan on how much an athlete can expend each day without negatively impacting their performance the next day. Learning proper pacing and developing this strategy should happen during training. I have witnessed many athletes get caught up in racing so hard they depleted their tank the first two days and risked not finishing on day 3. Athletes also need a plan for their crew. They are there to help you race your best, but if they don't know the plan then they can't help you execute it.
- Know your "why" - Athletes choose to step into the Ultra world for a variety a reasons and knowing your reason can motivate you mentally and push you through the tough spots. Some of the athletes who participated in the Ultraman Florida race recently shared their "Why":
"Family. Pure and simple. I draw my energy from each of them. In particular from my mother-in-law, Sophie. Sophie was a Holocaust survivor who gave everything to her family. She calls me her "other son”. She watched me race Ironman Canada – and cheered, in the most endearing way with her Polish accent, "Go Baby Go!" And so I do."
"I want to participate in Ultraman Florida because it scares me. I feel that this is such a big mental, emotional and physical challenge that I hope to find new limits to what I see as possible for me."
"Because I want to push my body and mind beyond any limit that I have ever considered possible. Witnessing the race for 4 years has transformed me from a guy that thought the athletes were insane to finally believing that I am with the proper training possibly just as insane. That thrills and terrifies me at the same time and I want to embrace that energy."
As you can see, the reasons for challenging oneself to an Ultra varies. Whether they are chasing limits, facing fears, inspiring others, or dedicating their race to a loved one, they are out there celebrating life, their health, and the opportunities they are given.