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The marathon versus an Ironman

Patriots day in America marks one of the most significant events in running, the Boston Marathon. Chances are, even if you know nothing about running, you’ve heard of the marathon in Boston. Like the Ironman, the Boston Marathon is admired by those in the sport and outside of it. But what are the differences?

B.A.A. 5K 2019. Photo: Alan Brooks

1) The marathon is a lot older.

The first Boston Marathon took place on April 19, 1897. John J. McDermott of New York won in 2:55:10. The first Ironman competition took place nearly a century later – February 18, 1978.

2) The training is the same, but different.

Both are huge sacrifices of time. Running a marathon requires a strategic plan of speed, strength and endurance, plus cross training to avoid injury. An Ironman requires that same approach, but across three sports.

Related: 15 thoughts when completing an Ironman

3) You try to run a marathon fast. In an Ironman, you try to survive the marathon.

Both are the same distance, but different approaches. After five plus hours of swimming and biking, you’re trying to survive the marathon. You know you can’t surge, you know the pace you need to maintain, and you know you need to be very aware of your nutrition and the heat.

Related: Thoughts every runner has mid-marathon

4) The emotional stages of a marathon and Ironman are almost identical.

For example, this isn’t too bad, why did I do this, what am I going to eat after this, or when am I doing this again?

5) The recovery time is long – an Ironman is longer.

After a day of swimming, biking and running, you’re body completely shuts down. After a marathon, you may lose a few toenails or have trouble on the stairs, but after an Ironman it all hurts.