Pre-Ironman training training

So as an ironman DNF'er, getting to the end of an IM is still on my 'To Do' list.  However, i'm in no fit state to be contemplating one in the immediate future.

Many of you on here know me (fat and unfit!) and though i've dabbled in other triathlon distance and marathons, i've got a lot of work to do on general fitness, let alone tri-specific work.

so my question is this - what should i be focussing on in training to get me to a point where i can take on IM training (and suceed)?

Is it as simple as: lose weight, build general fitness to a level where i'm 'comfortably' doing about 6-8 hours sport a week, start to bring in tri specific training in all three disciplines, all the while trying to build core and functional strength, with the aim of getting to this point maybe about 8-10 months prior to the proposed IM date?



  • I know in some respects i'm asking the bleeding obvious (i.e. swim, bike and run more), but I'd just be interested to hear what folk who maybe don't come from a background of generally being sporty tackled it.  I tried the whole 'nothing to IM' in 12 months approach, and i couldn't do it, but i know if i lack focus with a general aim to just do more, i'm not sure that'll work for me.

    just interested in folks thoughts, thanks image

  • Use this time too get some nice miles on the bike over the winter.... Nothing major speed wise.... Do a bit of base running and try to do a race or two..... Concentrate on these 2 and just keep swimming ticking over (assuming your swim is not really slow)

  • My swim is shit! Hahaha. I've got a marathon in April next year, so that's my focus at the mo, and was thinking of IM in 2015, so ages to sort it out, but also i've got so much work to do, need to think about it now, if you know what i mean.

    defo need to work on bike over winter, as you suggest. I've signed up for. Swim smooth 1:1 sesh to try and help my swim technique.

    congrats on the podium place at Henley btw! 

  • I went from zero (well a bit of cycling to work now and then) to IM in under 3 years - first 18 months just running, Parkruns, then 10k then 1/2 mara and mara.

    then went from one length to 1500m for an oly tri last Jul, 1/2 IM in Sept then Outlaw this year

    Therefore I started by doing what I liked image a new bike raised my motivation for swim training, too!


  • Cheers image

    anything is possible (lol see what I did there) a bit of determination and you can do it no problem, a mara is a good target... If your not going long is year how about a half? Reasonably cheap and a good gauge for fitness... Swimming is mainly technique... Cycling is surprisingly a lot technique but equally if not more strength and fitness.... And winter is the time too get out and get some base miles in like I said.... Focus focus focus get some races in there and say I am going too finish in bla bla time...... Tell your friends you are.... Trust me this makes you work... Or look like a tit works for me... I look like a titimage

  • Britrisky wrote (see)


    Therefore I started by doing what I liked image a new bike raised my motivation for swim training, too!


    So the new bike raised the motivation for swim training! I love cycling in the pool image image

  • Oops - you know what i mean!

    (only took bike to baths once - someone tried to nick it, so car after that!)

  • Hahaha, thanks folks! Yah i've been thinking about a half IM next year, just need to figure out which one and when, as i really want to do well in this marathon first.  You're right about doing it for enjoyment though Brit.  to be honest my priorities are weight loss and just getting to a point where training/sport/exercise becomes a natural aprt of my life.  However, i need to at least think about races otherwise i'm rubbish if i have nothing to focus on.

    i may have to try this 'cycling in the pool' malarkey, it might make my swim splits a lot fasterimage

  • Me too Lee +1 Wild Boar - very chilled out, nice peeps, cheap fees and a strong Piratey contingent supporting! 

  • Lee i am gonna be honest here please don't take this badly but i think you need to take a long hard look at your willpower and motivation , i see your facebook and Blog posts and they are very honest and self critical and full of good intent and then the next post you are on the hooch, out eating or missing training, also there is a lot of flitting and faddy kit ( them hangy band things come to mind )

    It realy comes down to cutback on the crapfood and drinkies establish a proper training plan and stick to it no excuses unless you are dying or injured if you are injured and cant run say do something else and forget fads, gyms and gadgets just lots of biking and running in the fat burning zone and a bit of swimming and superstrong effort on the fodder and drink intake should see you right

  • kittenkat wrote (see)

    Maybe work out why it hasn't worked before? And find a psychological tool to get past that point?

    Also don't eat diet food, bleurgh! image


    kittenkat wrote (see)

    Maybe work out why it hasn't worked before? And find a psychological tool to get past that point?

    Also don't eat diet food, bleurgh! image

    KKs right dont do diet food just "good" food lots of fruit n veg lean meat and fish cut the carbs back and watch the portion size jobs a good unimage

  • Is there a Parkrun near you?

    I love Parkrun, and now I try to time my long runs so that I end at Parkrun, because then the hardest miles become the easiest, if that makes any sense. image

  • No offence taken at all Ridgeback, you're right in a lot of ways.  I know I do struggle with willpower and motivation big style, even when the desire and intent is there.  It is something i've struggled with for years, well my whole life really, when it comes to food, hence the reason i've ended up this size.  I've got plenty of determination in other parts of my life.  I have to say personally though, it isn't just solely about motivation, sugary crap is like an addiction - you wouldn't believe the arguments I have in my head about not eating it.  I know every reason under the sun not too eat it,  I know the effects it has, I know why it is bad etc etc etc, but I still really struggle to avoid it.  I know that will sound totally mad, esp. to someone who has loads of willpower, but that's my problem. And when i've eaten shit I have no energy therefore exercise becomes harder.  Vicious circle.  If it really was as simple as just saying "well i won't have that", i'd have cracked it long ago.  I know some folk will read that and just roll their eyes, but it is what it is, and i'm trying to deal with it.  Not saying that as an excuse, just a reason I guess.  I'm not stupid. I know it should just be a case of 'don't do it' but I struggle with that, hence the blog and trying different things to find a way that will actually work long term.  So i'm going to the gym and trying to get back to regular exercise to establish a better pattern.  I don't do diet stuff, i eat protein and veggies and good fats and decent portions, it is just the sugary shit i'm trying to kick - the rest isn't the problem.  I do get bored easily, so I like to try different exercise things - if I vary it up i'm more likely to stick to it though.

    Don't get me wrong though, there is still an element of JFDI, which i'm trying to embrace, I guess it just doesn't come easily to me, working on it though.  Thanks for the post though, I'm not annoyed by it at all, I always appreciate your advice RBM!! image

  • Oh god and a lifetime of bad habits is actually a massive part of the problem - mindless eating, so working on breaking those bad habits and replacing them with helpful ones will go a long way to sorting me out!

  • If its 'preseason' I would get yourself into shape using things like circuit training and spinning classes and Parkrun (as someone mentioned). The real lung busting stuff and you can build on endurance later. Learn to go 'into the trenches' where you cant push anymore in short sharp workouts.

    If I were in your boat and I had 12 months;-

    phase 1 - general fitness - circuit training/spinning/sprints/crossfit

    phase 2 - endurance building - long rides/runs/swims (plenty of bricks, mix of fast and slow moving)

    Phase 3 - refining - Ensure endurance is up to scratch but incorporate lung busting back in. PAIN. 200-400m sprints, bike hill reps etc.


    I have never done an ironman, but have done lots of running, sprint and olympic tris am due to race a 70.3 and would like to in future.

    The benefit of short distance is that you really get used to your lungs being on the verge of collapse.

    Respect for even trying it, but I read that most people DNF (if body related) because of injury (unlucky) or injury because of a lack of conditioning or they physically havent put themselves through the pain in training.

    Whether that is you, only you know

  • Lee I totally understand where you are coming from and know its not easy as you just described my sisterimage

  • Lee, I think it sounds like what you do (bike, run, swim, circuit training...) is less important than ensuring you do it regularly.  As we head into autumn and dark, cold, wet evenings it s very hard to get motivated to get out the door and I am rapidly losing the motivation to cycle to work in the dark.  

    If you can get a regular training partner that can help provide the motivation to do the planned session as it may be more enjoyable and you don't want to let them down by not turning up.  A bit of peer pressure can be a great thing as it makes it much harder to sack it off than if you are doing it all alone.  Also a written down plan and a diary to record what you have done.

    Good luck with it.

  • Lee you have described me. I have an incredibly sweet tooth and love chocolate, I can eat it at any time of the day and eat a huge amount However my plan for kicking this wonderful habit is to give up chocolate until my birthday, end of October, to try and break the cycle and hopefully make me realise I don't have to eat as much. 

    With regards to training, get a few small events, a 10k, a duathlon etc, booked over the winter to give you some focus and get you out and training. Then tell absolutely everyone you know you are doing them. This makes it very hard to back out and gives you something to think about on the training sessns. 

    Do you have a turbo trainer or rollers? 

  • have you thought about having lots of different methods......maybe each only lasting a wek or two.....

    i lack motivation/ concentration for any period.  i get bored easily.

    just do something for a fortnight.....then try another focus..

    maybe a focus on swimming where you will go to the pool x amount of times a week.....and then a week with bike focus.

    maybe have a week where everytime you want something sweet you have to do 50 extra squats first before you can have it..........


     mabe join a cycling club and a running club and make their sessions priority

    I get bored very quickly with any one might get lucky and find one plan that actually clicks for you and then you can stick to that

  • What do you actually enjoy doing? Whatever it is, do that.

    I'll be controversial, and say that I dont think you need to be doing all 3 sports 2 years out from your IM. You've said it yourself, the major focus should be losing weight - thats what going to make the biggest difference to you. Its a lot to take on to lose a significant amount of weight AND learn to swim AND build up the bike etc etc.

    If you like running, why dont you just run over the winter. Running is good, cos its not so detrimentally affected by the weather - you can still run in snow and rain and wind quite happily and an hour a day is plenty. If you build up to 5 x 1 hour runs (of various speeds/intensities/terrains) plus a long run of 1.5-2 hours over the winter, whilst losing weight, come spring you'll be in a much better position to tackle a couple of the other disciplines and maybe do a sprint or something, building to a longer tri towards the end of the season.

    Above anything else, if you dont enjoy it, when the rest of your life gets tough (work, weight loss, personal stuff) you just wont do the training. Make it simple, and make it enjoyable, and my basic physchology tells me that surely you have a greater chance of success that way?

    Good luck.

  • good post Flyaway.....image

  • Britrisky wrote (see)

    Is there a Parkrun near you?

    I love Parkrun, and now I try to time my long runs so that I end at Parkrun, because then the hardest miles become the easiest, if that makes any sense. image

    We love parkrun, one pirate was in from the very start and another just after the start.

    Parkrun gets me up and out on a Saturday when all I would normally be doing is lazying around drinking to much coffee

    Mrs SA is also a convert as well

    look how many of your FB pals do it, enough of them for you to think there might be something in this, there are 3 near enough to you and they are all free, after your first you get a time to try and beat, it makes you competitive with yourself.

    PM me if you want any details


  • Hey folks, thanks all for the replies; a lot of good suggestions in there.  I'll respond properly tomorrow, i'm shattered now and heading to bed, but just wanted to say thanks for the input as I didn't have a chance to get on here earlier image

  • Right, i've been having another read of all the suggestions, and thinking about what is best.  I do tend to try and do too many things at once, and end up doing nothing when it all collapses around me, so i'm just focussing on a couple of things for now to make it more likely that i'll be able to stick to some kind of plan.

    I've recently joined a new gym, and i'm actually really enjoying using it. I've tried a few different classes, and decided to give Body balance a go for a while, because i'm sooooo stiff I could do with working on that.  Also, I can combine it with other stuff, as it isn't too taxing.  I'm doing a 12 week programme at the gym too, part of this is a group exercise class, so that'll be good because it is an appointment to keep, so I can't just slack off, also they vary the exercises so i'll not get bored. 

    In terms of running, Parkrun is a great idea - I keep forgetting about it!  I want to get to the stage i'm running three times a week regularly, so I can add in a fourth next year for marathon training, so Parkrun would be a good kick-start, and easier to maintain over winter and in crappy weather.

    So as suggested, i'm not going to worry about tri specific training now - weight loss and maintaining consistency in just doing exercise is the key for me right now. Without that, I'll not get to the point where I can reasonably start doing triathlons again anyway.  I'll be doing some swim/bike/running anyway, as part of my general exercise, so i'll leave it at that and not worry about 2 years out just yet!

    Thanks for all the advice, it is appreciated image

  • Lee, buy this book, read it and read it, then read it again Tim Gardiner put me onto it and I lost 4½ stone this year training for an ironman, if reading that book doesn't sort the sugary crap and fast food crap then nothing will, join a club, get out and train with other people, sign up for smaller triathlons and this will give you a focus for your training, as you lose weight remove the large clothes from your wardrobe, that helped me and don't buy anything new till you have lost a few stone


  • Thanks Chris - i've read that book actually.  It certainly made me think a lot about what I was eating, esp. processed foods and junk food etc.  Well done on your weight loss, that's fantastic!!  I agree training with others helps, so i'm looking forward to the group exercise classes. There is actually a tri club in the gym, and they look pretty good, so I was planning to join then when i've got my fitness levels up a bit.  I'm sick of never being able to keep up, so I want to be in a better position before I join a club, otherwise it'll just put me off completely and I won't go.  So i'm aiming for the end of year or the start of 2014 image

  • Just go, I intend to join a few COLT sessions this year, no other reason than I may as well look at Chris Wilds arse as he runs into the distance for a few weeks and to see if I can get any closer to it!image

    One thing I learnt from playing Rugby, that the fitness soon picks up, get in the group and just keep at it for a month and see what happens


  • re diet etc....

    have a look at 'fat chance' by Robert Lustig.   i thought this was a good read, but then I have a biochem background - even so i got a little lost in places but mostly its readable.

    your behaviour is a result of your hormones / biochemistry...will power works only for a short period.  sort your hormones out and behaviour follows...... ie sort out your insulin / cortisoll etc by chnaging your diet - remove or cut sugar, add fibre add regular exercise.

    sugar is the enemy - with fructose being the bad boy.  its mildy toxic(not day to day but decade to decade...?) and addictive, and its evrywhere (in processed food).  

    i bought some plain sliced chicked the other day and it had a sugar marinade.

    avoid anything thatslabelled low fat - its got carbs init instead.  eat (less) of the full fat stuff instead 

    i started looking at this stuff as i was starting to put weight on again despite training 15 hrs a week.....i was eating lots of sugar/baked goods / pasta.  

    i heard an interview with Tim Noakes on Marathon talk about his being dignosed as pre diabetic despite being a life long runner.  he could not understand it. so started reading / researching it, and promoting a low carb high fat diet.  it worked for him.  that rung a bell with me.....i've been reading this stuff for the last 18 months.

    other good reading is 'why we get fat and what to do about it' - gary taubes.....

    i have also been reading stuff from ben greenfield, marks daily apple, primal life, paleo diet etc etc.  finally gordo has been talking about his diet and how he changed from a fat guy to athlete to elite, and how his race / training nutrition changed from sugar based to more real food / fat burning approach.

    public opinion on what a good diet is wrong (we were told low fat is the way to go and it has not worked)- and public opinion is like an oil tanker and will take 20 years to the men time you need to educate yourself from as many trustworthy, reputable sources as possible.

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