This article featured in 220 triathlon website April 2017

Due to the scale and nature of the Ironman challenge its quite difficult to explain to someone what the experience was like in terms of the event itself, the six months hard grind you need to put in regarding the training program, and the way in which it completely takes over a significant period of your life,

For me I’ve reflected on this somewhat and I can break it down to five of my top take away experiences from the event I would now like to share with you.

1.      Sense of achievement – There is no doubt that if you are successful in crossing the finish line of a full Ironman race 140.6 miles, the overall sense of achievement is hard to put into words.  The training, sacrifices you have made over many cold dark months, the sitting in at weekends along with many other normal things you simply have to forget about, it’s all worth it when you hit the magic carpet and none other than the legendary Paul Kaye shouts aloud “Conor, you are an Ironman”.  This is an incredible feeling.  For me personally to achieve all of this whilst living with Multiple Sclerosis, well, it is something I am very proud of.

2.     Sense of adventure – make no mistake there is a serious amount of planning, brainpower, preparation, amongst many other things that goes into actually preparing for an Ironman race.  It really is one of the best adventures you will set out on.  For someone like me to be even contemplating swimming 2.4miles, cycling 112miles and the running a marathon, to call it an adventure is an understatement.  If you embrace everything about the event, this is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.  That is guaranteed.

3.     Physical benefits – I am stating the obvious here but if you commit to a training program of six months where you are either running, cycling or swimming six days a week, the overall physical health benefits are terrific.  Quite quickly into your program, assuming you pick the program that is suited to your capabilities, you will start to feel better within yourself, have more energy and generally get stronger.  The overall health benefits of regular exercise alone is certainly a hell of a good reason to give the Ironman a go.

4.     Mental health benefits – Just as important as the physical benefits, the overall mental health upside to competing and finishing an Ironman is incredible really.  Not that long ago I would never have dreamt that I would be able to even consider entering one of these events never mind finishing the full distance course.  What I found through the training program and during and post the race is that my overall mental health improved significantly as my confidence was at an all time high.  This is one of the worlds toughest physical challenges, so you can only imagine if you can get it done, how good and confident that will make you feel in your own self and ability to get through whatever challenges life might throw at your thereafter.  An incredibly empowering feeling.

5.     Motivational and Inspirational impact – This is something that I have felt more as the weeks and months passed since I crossed the finish line in Majorca.  Whether you set out to motivate or inspire people is irrelevant.  Once people hear that you completed the Ironman, I have found that this can have an incredibly inspirational and motivational effect on people.  One of the things I have found over the years is that it is one thing to inspire someone to go and do something but motivating someone is another level altogether.  For me the motivation really has to come from within the individual in question.  This is also something that can be developed by people if they can keep an open mind.  Whether you end up inspiring or motivating someone in any level of life can only be a good thing and for me by becoming that Ironman I never thought was possible, this I know has certainly went on to impact others in a positive way.  This can be very gratifying.

So there you go, if you were looking for a reason to sign up to one of these incredible races, I’ve now given you five.  So go get it, sign up now, complete the race, get it done, and brag about it for the rest of your life:)

I'm also very pleased that my new book Ironmind, has been very well received.  If you would like to get a copy, best place is on my website or amazon.  I hope you enjoy it and it might even inspire you to go on and achieve that dream you once thought was impossible, whatever that may be.