An Ironman is a three-discipline race that consists of the following:

  • 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim
  • 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride
  • 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run

The 800m Individual Medley is an event not contended in standard competition, but sometimes used as a training event for elite endurance swimmers. It consists of the following:

  • 200m Butterfly
  • 200m Backstroke
  • 200m Breaststroke
  • 200m Freestyle

The question we’re asking is:

Which event would be harder: A full Ironman race or 24 repeats of an 800 IM (swum Long Course Meters)?

We ran a poll on our Instagram Story and over 1,500 responded. The results are below:

We also asked our audience on Twitter, a radically different perspective:

There’s no question that both require an elite level of training and execution to complete. There are arguments to be made for why each would be harder than the other. I believe the most important indicator of someone’s inclination to either side lies in their competitive background in either swimming or triathlon.

An elite swimmer would have a much easier time completing 24 x 800s IM whereas a multi-time Ironman athlete might argue their experience and training base would allow them to do an Ironman with less difficulty.

From a time perspective, the 24 x 800s IM would be shorter for an elite athlete. If you consider the greatest Individual Medley swimmer of all time (Michael Phelps), in the prime of his training, it would be reasonable to say he could swim each 800 IM on a 10-11 minute interval. Therefore He could finish the 24 x 800s IM in less than 4 hours and 30 minutes.

The fastest male Ironman athletes in the world take almost double that to finish the full race. The fastest Ironman is 7 hours and 45 minutes by Marino Vanhoenacker. Another argument can be made that cycling takes up the longest portion of an Ironman and cycling for several hours continuously is less taxing that swimming continuously.

What do you think?

Misery Is a Choice

When faced with a long or daunting race or training session, it’s tempting to focus on the end of the workout, or the next set within the workout. But, we need to resist that temptation because it takes our focus off of what we are doing in the present moment.

Endurance athletes enjoy the process. They have mantras that get them through training and races that seem unimaginable to normal people. A mantra might seem like pyschological gobbledy-gook, but a well-framed mantra is the difference between finishing and not finishing.

The choice is yours!

About Ironman Triathlon

The name “Ironman Triathlon” is also associated with the original Ironman triathlon which is now the Ironman World Championship. Held in Kailua-Kona, the world championship has been held annually in Hawaii since 1978 (with an additional race in 1982) and is preceded by a series of qualifying Ironman events.

Most Ironman events have a limited time of 17 hours to complete the race. The race typically starts at 7:00 a.m.; the mandatory swim cut off for the 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim is 9:20 a.m. (2 hours 20 minutes), the mandatory bike cut off time is 5:30 p.m. (8 hours 10 minutes), and the mandatory marathon cut off is midnight (6 hours 30 minutes). Any participant who manages to complete the triathlon in these timings is designated an Ironman.

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