The Perfect Ironman?

Genetics can have a huge impact in sculpting the perfect Ironman. We look at some of the optimum genetics for a long distance athlete

Pain Tolerance

Unusually, genetic variance is inherited only from your mother’s side, with a McGill University study showing that a triathlete’s tolerance to pain could come from their MC1R gene

FTO Genes

FTO genes are tied in with one’s taste for fatty foods, with wiry ectomorph athletes (around 180cm and 72kg) dominating the Ironman World Championship podium

Aerobic Potential

A genetic ceiling has been placed on V02 max. The 19-year-old Swedish cyclist, Oscar Svendsen, displays unheard-of levels of aerobic capacity, despite racking thousands less miles than the previous V02-max poster boy, Greg LeMond

Red Blood Cells

The EPOR gene is key to the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the heart to the muscles, and can improve both VO2 max and endurance capacities

Slow Twitch Fibres

Genetics have a significant influence over muscle fibre composition (fast and slow twitch fibres), with the latter essential for sustained endurance performance on the triathlon course

Ankle Width

The world’s top marathon runners come from the same Kalenjin tribe in Kenya, who have been revealed to have ankles 15-17% smaller than their European rivals. Mark Allen, the 2:40:04 marathon record holder at Ironman Hawaii, also has ‘skinny ankles’