Got what it takes to take on the Ironman challenge?

The Ironman British Triathlon Matt Wroe Scope

Ever thought of doing the Ironman? The numbers alone are enough to put you off – a 2.4 mile open water swim in freezing water, 112 miles of endless hills on your bike and topped off with a full 26.2 mile marathon. Oh, and if you don’t complete it in 17 hours, you are disqualified.

If you think you might be up for the challenge though, Scope, the UK’s leading disability charity, wants to hear from you. Scope is recruiting a new generation of endurance athletes and you – yes, even you over there with the pie – even you can take on the Ironman.

Scope has recruited Matt Wroe, one of the UK’s leading amateur endurance athletes, as their Endurance Champion. Together they are seeking to inspire and then support people who might be intimidated by these events – whether that is through fitness, weight or motivation. To help with this, Scope has developed a range of content, covering everything from training guides to nutrition plans to video walkthroughs of the events.

Matt Wroe was hardly an athlete when he started training. He struggled to run even a mile without having to stop for breath and his swimming ability was not exactly Phelps-like… to put it mildly. But what this means is that Matt knows exactly what it takes to get from ‘everyday man’ to Ironman athlete.

As the Ironman is a triathlon you have to make sure you have equally high fitness across the board, at least in theory. In reality everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. The critical element is steady progression – regardless of the segment you have to begin with a stop/start technique and grow into a more sustained pace before finally pushing to a full endurance level.

The first segment, and Matt’s weakest, was the 2.4 mile open-water swim.  Swimming in open water is very different to even an open-air swimming pool, let alone a pleasantly warm indoor swimming pool. As Matt’s fitness grew he started to swim in a lake near him to build up an ease with the wavy conditions of open water swimming.

For Matt, cycling was where he was strongest – he had cycled from Alton Towers to the Eiffel Tower and back two years earlier. Even so, he had to radically alter his training to take on the 112 mile bike course in the Ironman, especially considering its hill climbs.

The Ironman culminates with a full marathon – all 26.2 miles of it – and this is where Matt really struggled. He happily admits that when he started training he would have to stop every half mile due to the crippling stitches. By steadily increasing the distance over time he found was soon able to take on the endurance-length runs he would need to do on the day. As running is such a high-impact activity Matt also rested regularly – taking rest days during the week and also a whole rest week ever 8. This gave the body time to recover.

Leave a Reply