Triathletes, Do You Have To Become an Ironman?

Is Ironman the final step in triathlons? Do you have to become an ironman if you are a triathlete?

These are some of the questions many newbies ask. They also watch their teammates training for Ironman. Once you become a “triathlete,” you either strive to do an Ironman or you feel pressure to do one.  But is it really necessary to become an Ironman?

First things first, let’s look at the distances:

Name Swim Bike Run
Sprint 0.5mi
Olympic / 5150 0.93mi
ITU Long 1.86mi
Half / 70.3 1.2mi
Full 2.4mi

Just looking at the breakdown, one would think that the natural progression would be to do a sprint, olympic, half and full Ironman. But still do you really have to become an Ironman?

Recently, I had the opportunity to ask Coach Danielle (Dee) Sullivan of Iron Fit Endurance what she thought.  Coach Dee was a professional triathlete for several years and has a ton of experience. She now coaches triathletes and athletes training for Ironman.

“I think some people CAN feel pressure to do a full Ironman, but it is not necessary at all…”she said.  “In fact, I think more people should really think about WHY they want to do one and sit down and talk about the reality of training for one before they commit.  Its a LOT of time spent training for the event and I think some people sign up without being FULLY aware of what lies ahead! One DEFINITELY does NOT have to do an Ironman to be a triathlete!”

There you have it. You heard it from the professional.  What do you think?