Let us set the scene; you're at the starting line, your heart is racing, blood pumping, and you're about to embark on a gruelling test of endurance, stamina and strength; an Ironman - a 2.4 mile swim and an 112 mile cycle, topped off with a marathon. Juan Garcia, personal trainer at Dolphin Fitness Club, knows that feeling all too well, as he completes his first Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico. We caught up with him to find out what it takes.
Firstly, a huge congratulations on completing your first Ironman! Before we get stuck into the gorey details, tell us a little bit about your role as a personal trainer at Dolphin Square.
I have been working at Dolphin Square for the past ten years, and my specialities lie in strength and conditioning. I focus on helping clients build endurance, running and of course, triathlon training.
So, when did you first become interested in keeping fit?
I started running when I was six years old, and since then my life has revolved around sports and fitness. Firstly, through my career as a professional athlete, then through my studies in Sport and Exercise Science. Then, when I started my current job as a personal trainer and running coach, it became my life.
You might have always been into fitness, but have you always known you wanted to complete an Ironman?
Although I have always competed at a rather high level as a runner, I always thought completing an Ironman was impossible, more of a dream! I found that the distance, and the sheer amount of training you need to put yourself through deterred me, and you need to be extremely consistent and dedicated - so I was never actually sure I was capable of doing it!
Yet, here you are! What kind of training did you do to prepare for such a race?
As I worked such long hours at the gym, I had to carefully plan my training sessions around my work. I used Dolphin Fitness Club to do a lot of the indoor cycling and swimming preparation, and then I would run to Hyde Park and Richmond Park to get in some time on the road. During the summer, London has a lot of open water swimming places to help train you for that, but Sundays became especially tiring as I was doing between 4 and 6 hours of cycling!
An Ironman isn't all about fitness. How did you mentally prepare?
I have done a lot of marathons, and a lot of long distance competitions, throughout my life, so I know how my body works physically and mentally. If you are preparring for an Ironman it is so important to get through those long distances during your training, so your body can get used to the sheer distance. Mentally, you know there will always be ups and downs during the race, so you must remain positive and talk to yourself, 'you can do it, Juan!'
It must have been an incredible moment when you crossed the line! How did you celebrate?
The Ironman race took me 11 hours, so after I finished I went to meet my wife and my 2-year-old daughter, who had come to Mexico especially to support me! Then, we went for a lovely dinner (and a Corona or two!) with some of the other competitors - we'd definitely earned a feast, since we expended 13,000 calories during the race!