Do I start the road to IM Wales?



Just looking for some advice.

I have always said that when I turn 40 I would like to complete and Ironman.  The only problem is that this is imminent and would like to contemplate it next year namely IM Wales.  The reasoning for this is I have cheered many competitors on over the last couple of years, and always dreamt of doing it myself, but there are a couple of things stopping me!image  Will I ever be fit enough to complete an IM? 

I have had a chequered history, I have remained sedentary since October last year when I completed my first marathon, lets just say it wasn't quick, but I did finish it.  Running has never been my strong point, that's why I decided to enter it, (but did miss all my long training runs due to final professional exams etc), but did it anyway, not the best strategy I know, but when my head is in the right place my body will follow - even at 11st 7lbs!


I have only dipped in and dipped out of Triathlon as I am not very quick, but that could be down to my fitness levels, I haven't been fit since my teens when I used to be a competitive swimmer.


My analysis of it all - I only want to get round and finish,  I think I would be okay with the swim (although it is a sea swim image), bike at the moment - I have never done this sort of mileage on the bike so it seems a tall feat, but I also don't really like hills, but that could be down to my weight (I have been told I can train for that and make them my strength instead of my weakness), and running well I don't like running now, but hopefully that will come in time, but I will never be a fast runner.  I am more of a plodder as I am heavy footed.


I have, last week got back on the horse, and hired a personal trainer and found that I am quite enjoying exercise again even though it is killing me - I also need to shed around 2 stone, but hopefully I can do that before even entering anything.

I would welcome anyone's thoughts, advice as to whether this is a viable option for someone that is starting off from no level of fitness. 

Oh BTW my husband asked if there was an easier option, but since I live in South Wales I feel it maybe better to do this one due to logistics and I don't perform well in the heat etc.


K image



  • Welcome Kattyrich.

    If you are well motivated then the simple answer is yes you can.  The only possible fly in the ointment is that the IMWales franchise expires this year, so there is a possibility things may change next year.  IMHO they'd be mad to scrap it as it's a beautiful course and the support is exceptional (for a UK event), but WTC have done some strange things over the years.

  • Slightly longer answer, if you were a competitive swimmer then that's an excellent place to start from as it means you won't be racing the cutoff to get out of the water.  That potentially leaves you a long time to complete the bike course- an 8 hour bike split requires that you can average 14 mph.  If you can beat the bike cutoff (10.5 hours after the start of the race) you have 6.5 hours to complete a marathon which (to use your words) you should be able to plod round.

    Start getting out on your bike and embrace those hills. 

  • hopefully the wales one will continue.........but the bike is very tough so you need to bike, bike and bike some more............

    an easier option would be the outlaw...but do what inspires you

    consider joining a local cycling club......

    and if you want a companion on a couple of bike rides let me know I'm in south wales

  • Thanks for your encouragement and reply above.

    I thought the franchise was for 5 years, therefore the plans, it would be shame if they did scrap it as you say.


    The information from you regarding the bike is very interesting and at least this will give me a starting point as to what to aim for and see what I can try and build up to over this summer.  I can then only get fitter and stronger providing I keep injury free! image

  • Seren isn't joking when she says it is very tough!

    I did Wales in 2011 and the Outlaw on Sunday.  My bike split for Wales was 6hrs 49 and for the Outlaw was 5hrs 28 and I had done more bike training in 2011.  While the weather can make a bit of a difference it is mainly down to the hills at Wales.

    Wales suits skinny whippets that can get up hills quickly which unfortunately I am not!  

  • I did DNF the wales course in 2011 as i missed the bike cut offs by 10 mins......I had a few problems leading up to it and on the day and being at the slower end..i didn't have enough of a buffer to get there........I had already completed 2 other Ironmen courses.

    have worked on my bike a lot and did 6:23 at outlaw and am going back to crack wales this year.....

    But I do know lots of people who have successfully done wales as their first one.......

    so if you are willing to work on your bike all year then there is no reason not to have a great day there...........its the best supported ironman race in the uk by a long long way.........the local support is amazing and the start when they play the national anthem is a very special momnet that i can't wait to experience again

  • Couldn't agree more, but definitely worth going into it with eyes open.

    Tenby is a fantastic place that I would love to go back to.  We had a fantastic family holiday alongside the IM and my daughter loved the beaches. 

    We stayed at the Fourcroft which overlooks the swim course so the family could watch without even needing to leave the bedroom, and the hotel was brilliant laying on early breakfast and late dinner on race day and providing a locked room for bikes etc.  Highly recommended! image 

  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭

    have to agree with all the comments so far

    1. yes, it's tough but that's it's "charm"
    2. yes, it's doable if you want it
    3. yes, start training for it
    4. yes, be prepared to be disappointed if the franchise goes elsewhere
    5. yes, there are alternative UK events to enter instead

    anyway, 2014 details will be announced after this year's event has finished - let's see what WTC do with this and IMUK

  • and to add to all the comments above

    You have to *want* to do it and you have to (for the most part) enjoy what you are doing, if you have fallen out of love with running and dont like hills can you honestly accept the challenge of IM Wales which will represent a fair percentage of stuff you dont like which will take up the majority of your time for the next 12 months or so ....

    I think you can change your view and learn to enjoy the disciplines again but the want has to be there and the support of family has to be there too as this will take you away for a fair few hours a week and in peak time this can be upwards of 15 hours, this will mean (if you work a standard shift) long bikes and long runs at weekends

    For me, I thoroughly enjoy it and would reccommend it to anyone who asks  image

  • Blimey. 5.28 outlaw split to 6.49 IM Wales split.

    That is a tough course.

    What was your marathon time ? That's going to be a fair bit slower in an ironman.

    You'd definitely have to buck your ideas up on training - its doable but only if you really want it.
  • Thanks all, I do really want it and to be honest I thrive on the things I can't do, I especially enjoy seeing my level of fitness improve, it helps me focus.

    seren nos thanks for the offer of joining forces the only problem is that I think you sound a lot fitter and faster than me, so may take you up on it early next year when I build up some base fitness.  But good luck to you this year with IMWales hope it is a positive result for you, I haven't decided wether I am going down this year we normally   Rent a flat in the town but my husband can't get time off so decided against it this year, but may just come down for he day.

    My husband is fully on board, he knows what I'm like and has said that I have overcome a great deal in the last few years so he thinks I can do anything I put my mind to!  Which wasn't the exact response I had expected as he normally just laughs at my crazy ideas!image

    My daughter is currently learning to drive so hopefully she will pass her test by the end of the year and then I will be fully free from taxi duties image  All the more time to concentrate on me.  


  • H0NKH0NK ✭✭✭

    Great that you have the family on board Kattyrich.

    I'm quite tempted to do IM Wales next year too. in fact I am tempted to enter this year as there are still places available if booked with accomodation. still would be better for me to wait till next year when ive got an additional years cycling in my legs.

  • Kattyrich .I will cycle or run with people at any pace..don't mind going slkower as I can go faster on my other rides.its a balance

  • I think the Ironman is such a big deal, that it would be worth travelling to one that suits your abilities best.  If you think you can get round the Wales course ok, then great, but if not, I'd get saving up for some Queazy Jet flights and a hotel.

    You could even rent somewhere for a week or so and make a family holiday out of it image

  • That's what I'm going to do with my half Ironman next year.

  • cougie

    to put it in perspective 

    outlaw 2010 - bike 5:40
    wales 2011 - bike 6;22
    Lanza 2012 - bike 6:00
    outlaw 2013 - bike 5;05

    I've been gtting quicker over the years, si the 40 min gap b/w outlaw and wales is probably more 50-60 mins...?

  • Wales 2012 8:07:31

    Outlaw 2013 6:33:28

    Outlaw is a fast course, but still prefer IM Wales


  • Thanks Seren Nos, you will have to let me know where you live - I live in Monmouthshire.

    Faithsdaddy - it's not really the cost I am worried about it's more about the heat if I am honest - I don't really do very well under hot conditions and by going away I am frightened I might have a hot day, mind you the Outlaw this year would have stretched my faith image


    I understand it is a difficult bike, but I do have 14 months to train, and can't I train my legs to like hills?  I have to remember the downhills as well, I am quite good at the technical bits.

  • just said that you ae quite good at technical bits downhill......that is a key point.and something I need to work on......I think if you want to do wales then it will inspire you to do the hills....,,I'm near caerphilly but happy to bike out towards monmouthshire image


  • Oh I work in Treforest - so that could be good, we will have to make a plan image

  • I'm between OC and SA:

    2011 IMW 7:31

    2012 Outlaw 6:24

  • Outlaw 6.30

    Wales 7.40

    Wales defo a toughie, but I did it as my first and loved it.  I'm Monmouthshire too image

  • I'm a heavier rider (16 stone), weight on hilly courses makes even more difference.

    Outlaw 2012 - bike 6:40
    Wales 2012 - bike 8;20
    Lanza 2013 - bike 8:11

  • Oh, I forgot about Lanza, lol!

    Lanza 7.50 - but on a random bike

  • Are you stalking me around the Ironman circuit?

    Ive only just shaken off Chrissie Wellington after she was following me around at Roth and Arizona image

  • Barley - judging by those times, its you that's stalking Pingu around, as she's way ahead of you! image

  • I dont get close enough to stalk image

  • I've a fair few IM to do till I catch you BB! And actually ... I think I did a 6.40 at Outlaw in 2012.

  • Well - just thought I would give a little bit of an update every now and again...

    Since posting I have lost around 8 lbs, and have trained regularly - I can see a distinct possibility of me entering IMW 2014. 

    I have found a new love for exercise and feel much healthier and I am enjoying seeing my fitness levels improve day by day.  Since starting on the 5th July slowly, I've managed to do 21 hours of exercise in July, and I am finding that my increased fitness is allowing me to do more than one session per day.  I took last Thursday off and felt really guilty as it was an unscheduled break - but needed the sleep, physically I was okay but I was feeling tired as these hours entails me getting up at 5 a.m. to get to the gym before work.  I like to do this before work as I know its done and feel invigorated all day.

    Read the Fink book twice and passed it to my Personal Trainer so that he can have an idea what fitness levels I need to be at before I start the plan next February.image


    I am off for a Professional Bike fitting next week so, there will be no excuses not to get out on my bike image- but I am wondering what to do for winter - do I purchase an old bike/mountain bike to continue training in the winter?  I do have an indoor trainer but I have only been on it once since purchasing image!  I have to say find it very boring training indoors - but if its a must - I am not sure I really want to put my new bike on it!  Will it damage the wheels ?  I have a Giant Carbon Defy Advance 1.  (not very good at bikes so I suspect will be looking for a great deal of advice in the future.

    I have to say I am feeling positive - and even though not all of my training sessions have left me that way - especially when my PT leaves me feeling sick! I can see the improvement.

    I am going to give myself another month before committing fully - just to see what improvements I can make within the next month before I 'Nail my Colours to the Mast'


    Feeling Happy image

  • Hi Katty,

    Great to hear that youre enjoying the training so far.  Thats the most important bit, its supposed to be fun and rewarding.

    There is no reason not to ride your race bike through winter, ive been using mine for 10 years and its still as good as new (though most parts have been changed due to wear and tear).  If you have really good wheels (carbon) id suggest swapping them over for some cheap winter training wheels.  Get some clip on mudguards and that'll help keep you clean and a little dryer on wet days.  Just give it a good clean to get all the salt/grime off it.

    Training through the winter isnt all bad, weather was pretty naff last winter but there are nearly always some nicer days when you can get good long rides done.

    As for turbo vs MTB, a lot of people swear by turbo's (though I hate them - used mine half a dozen times in 6 years), Turbo is the best route epecially if you can leave it set up in a spare room.  Its a lot more time efficiant (no faffing getting bike out, getting layered up etc).  Also a turbo is very good for interval and strength training.

    Putting a bike on a turbo wont damage it, youll just find your back tyre wears quickly if you turbo a lot, some people suggest a turbo tyre but why not just change your bike it when its worn would be my approach.

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