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5 Things You Should Never Say to Someone Who's Just Finished an Ironman

Best approached with caution, the post-Ironman triathlete is a fickle beast. Simultaneously exhausted,  hungry, elated, hungry, relieved and - did I mention hungry? It's a volatile combination. Play it wrong and you'll get your head bitten off, or worse - lose 5 hours of your life as they give you a viva voce race report. Read on for 5 things you should never say to someone who's just finished an Ironman...

1) "Oh it's not that far, let's just walk!"

Let's not. The day after Ironman Copenhagen, my quads were on strike, my toe nails and I were barely on speaking terms, my blisters were on the borderline of requiring their own national insurance number and the little walking I could manage made me look like a cross between the tin man when he's due an oiling and well... someone that's had an unfortunate code brown situation. For a good few days after the race, however long Google Maps says it's going to take to walk somewhere add on an extra 10 minutes and expect a soundtrack of endless leg-related complaining.

2) "Shall we share a dessert?"

That's a good way to lose a hand my friend. Along with the finisher t-shirt and a hefty medal, the post-Ironman triathlete is now the proud owner of a bottomless stomach. And with that comes a whole new level of hangry. Much like a bear that has just awoken from hibernation, coming between an Ironman finisher and their food is a dangerous situation. Shut them in a dark room and throw carbs at them until they calm down.

3) "So, tell me all about the race!"

Are you sitting comfortably? I hope so, because you're about to get a blow-by-blow account of 140.6 miles of racing that gives Paradise Lost a run for its money. Don't believe me? Check out my Ironman Copenhagen race report - reading it basically counts as an endurance event in its own right. 

4) "Did you win?"

No. No I didn't. But there are several things I lost - my dignity, the emergency gel I dropped down a portaloo and, temporarily at least, the ability to descend a flight of stairs without making a strange walrus sound. 

5) "So when's the next one?"

The trouble with this question, and the reason it should be avoided at all costs, is that it could go one of two ways. Neither of them good. Ironman finishers come in two varieties: the "never again, smash my bike up and throw my running shoes into the sea" finisher and the "pass the credit card I've got another 10 races to sign up for" loon. Encounter variety #1 and the mention of another race may or may not lead to them throwing stuff at your head. Encounter variety #2 and they'll bore you senseless with a detailed breakdown of which races they're considering and a step-by-step action plan of their next training phase. I'm most definitely variety #2 and you can bet your best underpants that I'll be booking another race and boring you all by talking about it in the very near future. I can only apologise.

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