Do Real Ironman Triathletes shave their legs?

Do Real Ironman Triathletes shave their legs?

For many an Ironman triathlete shaving their legs for the Ironman is not just a tradition, it’s a ritual and in many ways a “right of passage.”

It is a sign that one has truly arrived on the Ironman Triathlon scene. “If my legs are smooth, stand back and keep out of my way. I’m an Ironman!”

Or perhaps in the process of trying to become one anyway.

One day in 1984 there were six of us guys lazing around the pool minding our own business in the Sea Village resort in Kona, just a stone’s throw from the Ironman Hawaii swim start beach in Kona Harbor. I’m sure we were all immersed in our own thoughts and dealing with our own demons concerning the big race that was set to take place the next morning.

A group of us had made the trip from Calgary, Canada and the events that followed on that fateful day on the eve of Ironman Hawaii 1984 will forever have a sacred spot in a small corner of my memory bank of Ironman moments to treasure.(Or at least to have a good laugh over whenever I think about it).

Chip was the seventh guy and he weighed in at over two hundred pounds and officially went in as the biggest entry in the race. He sauntered on over to the pool area and said, “Okay you guys, I booked a beauty salon that closes in about two hours so we can go get shaved.”

Ironman triathlete leg shaving

Half-way there.

We all looked at him like he was suffering from too much sun. What the Hell……..

“What do you mean shave?”

You have to remember that we had no idea back then what we were doing or what we were getting ourselves into. Most of just happened to see this thing called “Ironman” on T.V. and just knew we had to go and do it.

We were……..We were “Ironstruck!”

Now you know where the name of this site and the name of my first two books came from. There were no coaches, or training books, or diets, or equipment, or bizarre concepts like shaving your body for an Ironman anywhere on the horizon. But Chip was deadly serious. He went on to explain. “We have to get shaved so we can swim faster.”

Yeah right.

Tony the Italian was a blur as he ran for the hills and in his wake we heard, “nobody’s getting near this chest with a razor!” I mean you had to be there. Tony had two inches of thick black hair on his chest and it was about the same on his arms and back.Come to think of it might have taken a lawn mower to do the job on Tony.

Anyway, the rest of us all trudged on over to the beauty salon. Chip banged on the door and when it opened there were these three gorgeous Hawaiian girls and their boss waiting for us. They all had mischievous glints in their eyes all were armed with electric-shavers. We had taken along a few bottles of wine as payment and it was pretty much non-stop laughing as those women shaved all our chest, arm, and leg hairs off. I still have picture of that day that one of the other guys had taken.

“Okay” Chip said. “When you go to your room tonight take a razor and shave off that final layer of stubble so you are completely smooth.”

At this point it was too late to argue as the damage was already done so that’s what we all did. Besides, I think Chip already knew the answer to the question Do Real Ironman Triathletes shave their legs?

When the gun sounded the next morning to start Ironman Hawaii 1984(and my first open water swim)I dove into that water and slid through it like I was covered in oil. I remember thinking at that moment that this must be why fish don’t have hair.

real ironman triathletes shave their legs

Shaved legs make road-rash easier to clean.

You see Chip had been a competitive swimmer and he knew that this was the way to go in order to have our best possible swim. And he was right. To this day I believe it was Chip’s leg-shaving escapade that got me through the swim that day. It gave me that one little physical and mental edge that I needed to survive the 2.4 mile swim.

He really knew what he was talking about and was a pretty smart guy. One day he would go on to create this company called LuluLemon so he must have had something going for him. So do real Ironman Triathletes shave their legs for the big race? Without a doubt I would say yes. If nothing else it makes you look cool and makes you feel like you have “arrived.”

It started out as something pro cyclists did in the event they crashed and ended up with road-rash. It is far easier to clean and heals much quicker if your skin is smooth. At least that’s where I think it all started. But if you have a “no-wetsuit” swim like Ironman Hawaii or like today in Ironman Austria 2012 then by all means you should shave anyway. It works best if you do it the night before the race so that it is a completely new sensation.

It can give you a huge boost of confidence because it makes you “feel” smoother and faster in the water with no added effort on your part. You virtually ‘slide’ through the water. After all that training, it was such a bonus to have this extra advantage on race morning. Don’t forget, it’s not just your legs you shave. For a no-wetsuit swim shave legs, arms, and chest.

It’s the overall sensation of smoothness that’s important. Just wear tri-shorts as opposed to a tri-suit because that sensation of smoothness on your chest is important.

leg shaving for Ironman triathletes

You’ll get by with a little help from a friend.

Also, I have learned that you will get a far better and more effective massage after the race if you shave for an Ironman. Just for that reason alone it might be well worth it.

There are those who honestly believe shaving their legs makes them bike faster and with less effort. If the sensation of the wind on your smooth skin makes you “feel” faster than it’s worth doing.

Anything you can do that might give you a psychological edge in the Ironman Triathlon is worth considering. For that reason alone it might just be worth going through the shaving process and enduring the unending itchiness once the hair begins to grow back.

So do real ironman triathletes shave their legs?

Most likely there’s a lot more to becoming and Ironman, but you might just be a smarter one for considering it.

Be sure to visit for some great training tips.

Optimizing your Ironman marathon

Tips on optimizing your Ironman marathon.

Are you like most triathletes and struggle when you get to the Ironman marathon and not aware of the importance of optimizing your Ironman marathon?

Most people who are new to triathlon are a bit surprised when they struggle with the run portion of the race. This is especially true when they were accomplished runners before they became triathletes.

The biggest impact is usually felt by those who are taking on their first ironman and have several marathon finishes to their credit.

They mistakenly assume that all they have to do is deduct a bit of time from their best marathon result and that will pretty much indicate what their Ironman Marathon split will be, give or take a few minutes.

[bctt tweet=”My Ironman was going great. Until someone said I had to run a marathon.
via Ironstruck”]
Unfortunately it doesn’t usually work that way in an Ironman Triathlon because there are simply too many variables to account for and reaching the finish line can often take an hour or more longer then expected unless you are clear on optimizing your Ironman marathon.


  • Most Ironman triathletes fail to spread energy reserves out evenly over the course of Ironman race day.
  • The majority of novice ironmen go into the race over-trained and under-rested.
  • Poor hydration and nutrition in the days leading up to the race and also during the bike leg.


  • Know you limitations and pace yourself accordingly.
  • Are you getting the most out of your Ironman taper leading up to the race?
  • Timing is everything. It makes perfect sense to be carbohydrate loading and hydrating several days before the race.
  • It’s important to have a drinking and eating plan in place for the bike leg.

THE PACE: The energy wasted in a poorly executed swim and a mad dash through transition is unrecoverable.

There’s is a direct link between a poorly planned swim and the Ironman Death March.”

RELATED:Ironman Death March

It’s hard to understand at first that you can actually take a much-deserved rest and not lose what you have gained from all your training.

Without fail there will be triathletes training in the hot sun during any given ironman race week trying to get rid of pent up energy. Actually, they’re burning energy they’ll need for their best result on race day.

It you get this part wrong it’s difficult and often not possible too late to make up for lack of food and water out on the run course.

If you’re playing catch-up with your intake, it’s pretty well too late to recover because you are in a constant state of motion and continually burning energy.

optimizing your Ironman marathon

Swim calm and controlled. Burning valuable energy to swim a few minutes faster is a common error.

Go into the race with a sound swim plan and don’t just “wing it.” It’s pointless to take off like a shot when the guns sounds unless you are a pro and are trying to keep up with the other pros.

There’s not a thing to be gained by doing the swim 8-10 minutes faster if it means stressing yourself physically and in the process burning energy you will need later.

The end result of gaining that 10 minutes in the swim could well mean taking 90 minutes longer to make it through the run later in the day. That just does not compute. One of the main keys to optimizing your Ironman marathon is to begin the moment the swim begins.

Swim well within your ability with your main focus being to get to the swim finish using as little energy as possible and being as relaxed as possible. This means keeping your emotions in check when there is chaos all around you.

RELATED: Ironman Negative-split Strategy

It also means taking your time through the swim/bike transition. There is nothing to be gained by running. Let everyone else around you do that and you will pass them later on in the race.

Going out as fast as you can will sky-rocket your heart-rate for no good reason. Save all that energy for the last part of the bike. If you feel great then, that would be the time to pick it up a little while everyone else is hitting the wall.

THE TAPER: I firmly believe that a one-month taper for an Ironman Triathlon is about right.

With 30 days to go before the big race it’s time to begin to ease off on the gas pedal and let your body have it’s well-deserved rest from those months of preparation.

Each of those last 4 weeks cut your training back 20% or so from the previous week, and the week of the race don’t be tempted to do 15-mile runs in the heat of the day or to head out on a 75-mile bike ride.

This is perhaps the biggest mistake that is made by most new triathletes and crucial to understand on the way to optimizing your Ironman marathon.

All that is really required race week is a few short bikes, runs, and swims in the cool of the morning or evening. Rest should be the main focus the week before the race.

If the race is Sunday, be sure to take Friday completely off and get a good nights sleep as you may not sleep that well the eve of the race.

optimizing your ironman marathon

Mid-week before your Ironman begin taking in high complex carbohydrate foods you’re used to.

FUELING: Wednesday is a good time to begin to take on lots of extra fluids for a Sunday race. It’s also a good time to begin eating meals that you’re accustomed to that are high in carbohydrates.

If your urine is clear and copious by Saturday then you are pretty much there as far as hydration. Your last meal on “race eve” is best eaten fairly early in the day to allow sufficient time for your digestive system to work.

A light breakfast of tea and toast and perhaps a banana about 3 hours before the gun goes off and you should be well-prepared for the race.

If you have hydrated properly before-hand you don’t really need to drink much in the hours leading up to the race. You don’t really need a lot of fluid sloshing around in your system during the swim.

BIKE NUTRITION: The key is to begin early on and eat and drink controlled amounts often as opposed to a huge amount once in a while.

The best time to start drinking and eating is after about 15 minutes on the bike. Your body needs time to make the switch from being horizontal in the water to vertical on the bike.

From that point on I would suggest drinking at regular 20-25 minute intervals for the duration of the bike leg. It really works well if you set the timer on your watch before hand to beep at regular 25-minute intervals as a reminder. Use a time frame that works best for you but it works better if you are consistent.

2013 Ironoptimizing your Ironman marathonman 70.3 california results

Your body needs time to recover from the swim. Dizziness from going horizontal to vertical is not uncommon.

RELATED: Triathletes and Carbohydrates

Most of your eating (of complex carbohydrates like bagels for instance) should be done early on in the bike. Eating in the late stages of the bike is not necessary or recommended especially if you ate sufficiently in the first three-quarters of the bike.

Food eaten late in the bike will most likely not be assimilated in time to do any good in the run and may do more harm than good.

If you do things properly on the bike course you stand a good chance of making it through the run just drinking water at each aid station and avoiding food almost completely.

Common sense Ironman triathlon transitions

Your race will go smoother if you work on Common sense Ironman triathlon transitions.

Oh my God! I forgot my running shoes!

Yes, that’s happened before. A sleepy triathlete walks to the swim start area and gets all his numbering done and he’s wearing his favorite flip-flops. He forgot that he was going to put on his racing runners and wear them down to the check-in.

The plan was to put them in his bike/run transition bag once he had his wetsuit on. Imagine his surprise when he only had flip-flops to throw in the bag.

Here are three key components to Common sense Ironman triathlon transitions.


    The night before the race spread everything you will need out on the floor or bed, whichever works best for you. When you get your race package you will normally have five bags. This may be different for some Ironman races around the world, but usually there are five.

    You will most likely have a swim to bike transition bag, a bike to run transition bag, dry strip bag, and two special needs bags.

    Whatever clothes you wear down to check-in will normally go into the dry strip bag. You can take your wetsuit, swim goggles, and cap down to the race start in the dry strip bag. When it’s time to put your wetsuit on take out your wetsuit, swim goggles, and cap and put your clothes in that bag.

    It will have your number on it and there will be a big pile of them some where near the swim start. Throw your bag there. You will get it back along with your swim and bike gear after the race.

    Common sense ironman triathlon transitions

    Know what row your gear is in.

    So basically, when you spread your gear out the night before the race you should have five piles. A swim/bike transition pile, bike/run pile, a bike special needs pile, a run special needs pile, and your swim gear pile that will go in your dry strip bag. Once you have that figure out, put the gear in the appropriate bag.

    Being super organized the night before will is a great start to Common sense Ironman triathlon transitions.


    So what the heck do you put in these bags? Remember that you want to keep things as simple as possible. Your heart will be racing and you will be super-charged with adrenaline by the time you reach special needs and you want things to go smoothly.

    Unless you’re trying to qualify for Kona or set a personal best, stop your bike in order to deal with your bike special needs bag. Grabbing it on the fly can lead to disaster, especially when you find that a volunteer has tied a knot in the top of the bag. It happens…

    [bctt tweet=”How much food do you really need in your ironman triathlon bike transition bag?.
    via Ironstruck”]

    You might put special food or replacement drinks in that bag. Keep in mind that when you get that bag on the bike course you are getting very near the point where you should already have taken on the majority of your solid food. The best time to take on complex carbohydrates is in the first half of the race.

    This way your body has time to assimilate them and they will provide your fuel for late in the bike and for the run. Eating too late on the bike often does little good. You body does not have enough time to convert it to fuel. Besides that, you might end up with digestion problems on the run course.

    My point is, don’t stuff that bag with food. An electrolyte replacement drink you used all through your training would be a better choice as you may have used up what you started with. Weather can also be a factor and you might decide to put arm warmers in their if there is a chance of temperatures turning cold or if rain is in the forecast.

    You may also want to put a jacket in there. Keep in mind that you should be prepared to lose whatever is in that bag. In many races they just get lost in the shuffle. Be sure to use an old jacket and not the sleek one you just payed $150 for.

    common sense ironman triathlon transitions

    Don’t put that new cycling jacket in the special needs bag.

    Cut the toes of off long sport socks and they make perfect throw-away arm-warmers. They are also great at the beginning of the bike when mornings can be cool. When you don’t need they just throw them when you pass an aid station.

    The run special needs bag is much the same. Except for the run you might want to include a hat in the event you don’t start the race with one and the sun is really blazing down. You might also want sunblock.

    There will be plenty of food on the course and it’s not really necessary to pack much food in the run special needs. The run is best managed on very little food and regular intake of water and replacement drinks. Don’t forget an old sweater or jacket in the event it really cools off once the sun goes down.

    When you go to check in you will be carrying all your bags. There will be drop-off points for the bike special needs and another one for run special needs. Now you are down to three bags.

    There will be a bike and run transition spot(according to your race number usually)and that’s where you put those two bags. Now you just have one. It has swim gear and will substitute for your dry strip that you wore to start area.


    Things can get very hectic inside the transition area. When you get out of the water you will be disorientated.

    Before the race starts, pick out landmarks(like a tree or post or sign or tent)that will lead you to your transition bag area. Better yet, find out from someone that knows where you come out of the water and the path you will take to enter the swim/bike transition area. All you really have to do is count the rows beforehand and you will know exactly where your gear is.

    The first row you come to once you enter the area will be row one. That’s your reference point. Memorize it beforehand. It doesn’t matter if your gear is to the right or left, just count from the first row to your row. You could be five rows away or 12 rows away, but this way you will know.

    Often the volunteers will try and find your bag for you, but when there are 40 people there all at the same time they get swamped. Know where you gear is in case you have to get it yourself.

    common sense ironman transitions

    I know my bike bag is down there somewhere.

    Once you get your bike gear, head to the change tent. Put your swim gear into your bike gear bag, make sure it’s tightly closed and leave it in the tent if there is not a pile of them nearby. Either way you will get it back after the race.

    When you get off your bike you will most likely be told to take your helmet with you as opposed to leaving it with your bike. Some people like to take there feet out of their cycling shoes and leave the shoes locked into the pedals when the volunteers catch them.

    [bctt tweet=”Hey! Where’s my other Ironman bike cycling shoe? Via IronStruck”]

    I’m not a big fan of this because those shoes are so expensive and can easily get knocked off and lost in the flurry of activity. If you don’t want to walk or run in cycling shoes to the change tent, take them off, carry them, and go in bare feet.

    If found out before the race start where you will be getting off your bike, you will have your transition point and you would use the same process to find your run gear as you did your bike gear.

    When you change into your run gear, but your helmet and cycling shoes in the empty run gear bag. Remember, all the bags have your race number on them and will by magic(with a little help from the volunteers)end up together when you go to get them after the race.

RELATED: Ironman bike transition
RELATED: Ironman run transition

Hopefully these few tips for Common sense Ironman triathlon transitions will be helpful to you.

Looking for your next race? Check out for upcoming races.

Ironman Triathlon Average Time

It’s pretty difficult to compute an overall Ironman Triathlon average time.

It’s your first Ironman Triathlon. How long will it take you?

That’s a difficult question to answer because just how are you supposed to come up with an average time if you factored in a number of races.

For example, the result wouldn’t be very accurate if you took 20 Ironman races from around the world and tried to come up with an average.

Here are three reasons why. I’m sure there are many more but these three are probably among the top.


    It’s hard to come up with an accurate average because there are no two Ironman courses that are alike. The swim could be in an ocean, a lake, or a river. The bike and the run could be hilly or flat.


    Who knows what the weather is going to be like. How can you compare a race with no wind to a race with gale force winds? It could be blistering hot or really darn cold. How can you compare rough ocean water to a placid pancake-flat lake?


    Of course age is a huge factor. There are ideal ages for endurance athletes. If you’re between 20 and 30 you might have tons of speed, but chances are the triathlete who is between 30 and 45 will have better endurance. As you go up the age ladder, times begin to get slower.

Here is an example of how the Ironman Triathlon average time can even differ for the pros.

These are results from a past year when Ironman Canada, Ironman Louisville, and Ironman Wisconsin took place within two weeks of each other.

RELATED: Hardest Ironman course

The 10th place pro male in Ironman Canada would have been in 3rd place with that same time in Wisconsin or Louisville. In other words he would have been standing on the podium.

The top ten pro men in Ironman Canada all crossed the line in under nine hours. Back in Louisville only four of the top ten were in under nine hours.

Ironman Triathlon average time  -a triathlon clock

The clock is ticking

The top nine pro women in Ironman Canada were in under the ten hour mark. Only the top three in both Louisville and Wisconsin managed to break ten hours.

You can bet that it was just the same across all the age-groups as well. Most likely the age-group times in Ironman Canada across the board were faster than the other two races.
[bctt tweet=”Who cares if you crawl across the Ironman finish line. As long as you get the shirt.
via Ironstruck”]

However when it comes to age-group athletes there are some things that stay the same no matter where you race your Ironman.

If you finish the swim between 1:15 and 1:40 chances are you are going to have plenty of company when you come out of the water. It you can do swim under 1:15 you will have a lot more room to maneuver during the 2.4-mile swim and also in the swim/bike transition area.

RELATED: Ironman swim start

You will also have a lot of room on the swim course and in transition if your swim time is between 1:40-2:15. It will also be easier to find your bike. So are you a fast swimmer, an average swimmer, or a slow swimmer just trying to beat the cut-off?

Lets go with the average swimmer. Most likely your time will be around 1:20.

Super fast age-group cyclists can cover the 112-mile bike in 5:30-5:35. On the other end of the spectrum some will take almost seven hours. Many first time triathletes fall in the 5:50 to 6:35 range. So lets say 6:20 is a good average for the Ironman bike.

When it comes to the Ironman marathon, there are very few age-groupers who will run under 3:30. Then there are some who are out there for over seven hours. Most will finish the marathon between 4:00 and 5:20. If you are biking around 6:20, then it fits that your run time will be around 4:35-4:40.

With transitions the average triathlete would most likely cross the finish line with an Ironman Triathlon average time between 12:10-12:40. The very fast ones will be under 11 hours. The ones who just want to finish will average around 15 hours.

These are just ballpark figures, but look at any set of results and those are pretty much the three distinct Ironman time zones. The fast, the average, and I just want to cross the line no matter what group.

People will ask you how fast you expect to finish your first Ironman. Tell them you have no idea. Because really, you don’t. Anything can happen out there and who knows if you will be faster or slower than the Ironman Triathlon average time?

Relays an excellent idea for beginner triathletes

Triathlon relays an excellent idea for beginner triathletes who have an Ironman in their plans.

It can be extremely challenging for many people who have been IronStruck and have dreams of reaching the Ironman Triathlon finish line one day.

Most people who want to take on the Ironman challenge have little or no experience with open water swimming let alone swimming 3.8k in order to make it to the 180k bike and 42k marathon that stands between them and the Ironman finish line.

That’s just one reason that makes relays an excellent idea for beginner triathletes.

If you are in the process of learning how to swim the Ironman distance but not quite there, becoming part of a relay a team is a great introduction to what to expect on Ironman day.

Perhaps you are more confident in doing the swim or bike and letting someone else do the open water swim.

Perhaps you have worked your way up the the 3.8 distance in the pool but have never tried it in the open water. -relays a great way to prepare for the Ironman

Try a relay! Maybe you’ll find your self in Ironman Hawaii one day.(image by Tessa Capistrano)

Being on an Ironman triathlon team is an excellent way to take on the Ironman swim without having to deal with the bike and run in the event your fitness level is not quite where you want it.


If you are completely new to triathlon there are much shorter races that often have the option of being on a relay team.

There are Sprint Triathlons that have relay events included and all the distances are fairly short and a perfect way to learn what triathlon is all about without having to tackle all three disciplines.

Usually a Sprint Triathlon includes a 750 meter swim, 20k bike, and 5k run although the distances can vary a bit depending on the race organizers.

Relays are also very popular at the Olympic Distance which are normally twice the distance of a Sprint Triathlon.

The Olympic distances are standard wherever you race them and include a 1500 meter swim, 40k bike and 10k run.


-Relays are a great introduction to triathlon regardless of the distance of the race.

-It’s a great way to socialize and make friends who share your interests and who could one day become training partners.

-Doing several triathlon relays and doing a different discipline each time before taking on a triathlon yourself is a great way to see how the transitions work.

-Relays will give you a very good idea of what’s involved in order to do your first triathlon or perhaps first Ironman Triathlon on your own.


Ironman Lake Tahoe is the only Ironman race in North America to feature a relay.

The following Ironman 70.3 races also include relay teams.

IRONMAN 70.3 Muskoka
IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie
IRONMAN 70.3 Racine
IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead
IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Stevens
IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman
IRONMAN 70.3 Santa Cruz
IRONMAN 70.3 Superfrog
IRONMAN 70.3 Silverman
IRONMAN 70.3 Austin

Be sure to visit the website for detailed information on these WTC events that include relays.

The dates and the qualities that each race brings along with links to each race can be found on the website.