Iron pumping to Ironmen

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Incredible achievements from our Al Corniche Ironmen

One thing we have learnt both from our fitness team and from our members is that fitness routines, exercise choices and general beliefs as to what constitutes a healthy lifestyle is a very personal decision.  It’s widely acknowledged that exercise and a healthy diet is good for us but beyond that the specifics can get a little contentious.  What is healthy? What types of exercise produce the best results? The truth is although we can at times get a little rigid in our own school of thought, what is effective, enjoyable and maintainable for one person may not be for the next.  But that is what makes this #Cornichestory particularly interesting. 

Two of our own avid strength trainers have made the gigantic leap towards triathlon training and, most recently they have completed the Half Ironman in Dubai with impressive times by any standards.  A huge accomplishment which has left us all wondering, could anyone, even the cardio haters or athletic novices amongst us #giveitago?  Below we share a little more about Michael’s and Jamie’s Ironman journeys. 


Michael is our Health and Fitness Manager, ex-military and a seasoned athlete who had (what most would agree) a good baseline fitness even before he started his triathlon training.  But fit for what? He had never been a road cyclist (although taught spin), not a particularly strong swimmer and, by his own admission, a terrible runner.  Years of strength training had resulted in a lean but heavy physique, not ideal for long distance cardio.  So, what possessed him to start triathlon training, an endurance sport that was inherently dependant on his 3 weakest disciplines? Here is what he had to say…

“I wanted to try something different, something uncomfortable, a challenge, something I had a real chance of failing.  I’ve always trained hard but my routine had become very ‘safe’ and I wanted to see what my body could do.  My mindset had completely shifted from caring about just looking good to really wanting to test my body’s capabilities and the outer limits of my own physical performance potential.  I was happy with my achievements before I started triathlon training but as it turns out, I really feel like this has been the highlight of my sporting career.”

We asked Jamie the same question.  Jamie has over 15 years within the fitness industry and he too has spent the majority of that time drawn towards a focus in strength and conditioning techniques.  Arguably, he also had a good baseline fitness at the beginning of his training but there was more to it than that.  Here is what he had to say when we asked him, why triathlons?

“I couldn’t swim.  I started triathlon training because I couldn’t swim.  I could keep my head above water but when it came to actually swimming lengths, I couldn’t do 1 length.  Years ago, I was doing some open water training that involved an element of life saving.  At the end of the session the instructor said… “you just focus on saving yourself”.  When I joined the Corniche team it seemed like the perfect opportunity to tackle the swimming situation.  My only goal for my first triathlon in 2016 was to ‘make it back to land.'  I wasn’t at all confident in the water.” 

Both Michael and Jamie completed the Ironman 70.3 race earlier this year in 5 hours, 16 mins and 5 hours, 45 mins respectively.  The course included a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km run.  This is a phenomenal achievement considering Michael started training only 6 months before event day and 18 months prior, Jamie couldn’t swim.  These things don’t happen by accident and there is a huge amount of effort, commitment and discipline required.  We asked both, what were the things that kept them going throughout the training period and what were their biggest challenges?

“Well, I find it hard to motivate myself, so I would leech onto whoever was training that day to make sure I always had someone to train with.  The Corniche triathlon community has been a huge support and it definitely got me through.  I am completely addicted and having people to give me advice along the way has helped a lot.  I loved the atmosphere on the day and the sense of genuine support from team mates.  It is a big commitment, I have been training between 15 – 20 hours a week but the reward is great and 100% worth it.  I have exceeded my own expectations and it has become part of my lifestyle now.  The mind definitely plays tricks on race day though, it’s a tough mental challenge as well as physical.” [Michael]
“The hardest part is the mental challenge.  The swim can feel a bit like you’re in a washing machine at times and because I focused so much on getting my swimming up to speed, I paid less attention to my running and cycling so ironically that is what I found the toughest.  The biggest rewards for me have been the sense of accomplishment and having the perfect set up at Corniche.  I’ve moved away from power lifting and strength and the facilities at the club are ideal for triathlon training.  I am much leaner, although not much lighter.  I have learnt a lot about my body during my training journey.” [Jamie]

Michael and Jamie have obviously caught the triathlon bug and both are keen to start looking for their next race.  It’s clear that neither Jamie nor Michael were strangers to fitness, training or a gym environment but both mentioned that starting out on a triathlon training programme can be a little daunting.  Having been through the experience themselves and knowing how important their support network was, they are very keen to make the sport more accessible to those who would like to #giveitago and try something different.  Perhaps you would like to compete? Add more cardio to your training? Or simply join the Corniche triathlon community so you always have someone to train with? 

Whatever your fitness goals, your sporting ambitions or areas that you would like to improve, we are passionate about introducing triathlon to anybody who would like to give it a try, regardless of previous experience or current fitness levels.

Well done guys! We’re super proud!

For more information on training schedules or to hear more from our triathlon community, click here

To ask Michael more questions about his triathlon training journey, please contact him on:

For general triathlon enquiries, please contact Najla our Triathlon Coach on: