Can I complete An Ironman? – Of Course!

Ironman Finish

A very commonly asked question. And one most people know the answer to. No. Ironmen (Its a Gender neutral term by the way) are Super humans capable of feats, the ordinary public cannot conceive. So most people never really ask themselves the question ” can I complete an ironman ” seriously.

But I know for a fact people with VERY little sporting background CAN INDEED complete an Ironman. I should know as that was Me 7 years ago. The most exercise I got was walking to the pub. The closest to competition was racing to down a pint. But I got round and in quite a decent time.

So the question really should be:

Can Anyone complete an Ironman?

This is more difficult to answer. But the answer is probably not. I’m sure some medical conditions would preclude people from completing an Ironman. Not being a Medical professional I can’t truly say what would be a true inhibiter to success. If you are not fully medically fit I would consult you doctor before attempting any form of intense exercise. But I would caveat that with the fact that MANY people who are not medically fit do indeed complete Ironman races! Both people with Visible and Hidden disabilities, some very Severe, complete and compete at ironman Triathlons.

How? Because

Ironman Triathlons are 20% physical and 80% mental!

I honestly believe that anyone who has the right frame of mind and is not medically precluded can indeed complete an iron distance Triathlon.

If you are sat there thinking, “surely not me? I’m a 47 year old, overweight exercise-phobe?” Well let me let you in on a little secret.

Iron Distance Triathlons are FULL of 47 year old EX-overweight exercise-phobes!

Really, and just about every other type of person out there. People over 60…70…even 80! People on the larger side. People with fewer Limbs than the rest of us. Just people who stopped believing they couldn’t and went and DID.

So that’s the good news. You now know you can. You might not believe it yet. I’m not sure I was convinced I could until I was heading down the finishing shoot. But the bad news is Like anything worth having its not going to be easy! There is a reason why its 80% mental. Its still a very tough event. And you need every bit of will power and mental toughness to get there.

Both throughout training and during the race you will encounter many “dark places” where you mind tells you it is not possible to keep going. This is where the mental side comes in. If you can ignore the negative side and push on through. The Body, Sometimes begrudgingly, will follow suit. Our bodies are incredible machines. And with the correct training and the correct mind-set they are capable of utterly astounding feats.

Your body may be a long way from being able to complete. and the journey may be long. But its a journey I believe we can all make. The first stage would be to understand where abouts on that journey you are!

See my Advice for Ironman Beginners page for more info.

And I do hope you decide to come on this journey as the feeling at the finish line is truly incredible.


Stephen James


  1. Hi Stephen,
    Very interesting post. I’m sure you are right. Believing in yourself is half of everything we do. After that comes desire(still mental). So if you believe in you, and have the desire, you can train for anything if you’re physically able.
    Thank you, Allan

    • Exactly Allan. The body can be trained it takes the mind to push yourself through the training and then through the event. Its the same with all endurance sports and achievements and as you say, with most things in life. Belief, Desire and Drive are what push us forwards through our own limiters to places we really didn’t think possible.

  2. It’s good you have this mindset because, honestly, building an online business is a triathlon, not a sprint. So if you aren’t in for the long haul it can be discouraging. I remember when I figured that out. Kind of took the wind out of me for a few days. Then I shook it off, got up and walked it off and dove back in! As long as you stay focused and push forward you can be successful at just about anything!

    • That’s true Billie. Pretty much anything in life can be achieved through a strong positive mind-set. Often you still need to do the hard work. But Its the mind-set that pushes you to do the hard work. There is no easy path to success in anything and its a strong mind that pushes down the hard paths.

  3. How do you qualify for an ironman race? I’ve been a runner off and on. But never a swimmer much. Yet I’d like to do one someday. Where can I find more info? Thanks.

    • Hi Sarah Thanks for reading
      Iron distance Races are normally not qualification races (Ironman Kona an exception as this is the world champs and qualification is required). You can just sign up. There are many events spread out across the globe. Visit http://www.IRONMAN.COM for a full list of all the Official Branded ironman races. But there may be local Non-Branded races near you that can be just as rewarding. Feel free to explore this site for more info on getting started.

  4. Hi Stephen! I agree with you 100% that it requires a lot of mental toughness to get through these type of races. I can remember running just 10 miles. I remember getting to that dark place many times and pushing through. So it definitely starts with having the mindset that you can get through it. Great article!

    • Hi Thanks Ralph
      Yes it is amazing what the mind can make the body achieve. Focus and determination can lead you to almost anything in life. Its not to say you don’t have to do the hard work also. But its the mind that gets you doing the hard stuff, and stops you taking the “easy” option. The easy options lead to failure the hard options to success.

  5. This is an encouraging post. I have never considered training for an ironman, but it would be an amazing accomplishment. Who introduced you to the idea of training for one?

    • Hi Amanda, Thanks for reading,
      It certainly feels like a huge personal accomplishment. I progressed into it quite naturally with a group of friends. I started just doing a Charity Bike Ride, and caught the bug Next year I did several Standard Triathlons and the Year after a full Iron-Distance. I never really believed I could do any of them, just kept going with the training and never giving up and the body just came along.
      Hope this post can inspire you, even if its not to doing a FULL ironman.

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