From Idleman to Ironman

Hi, after a bit of advice - sorry for the long post!

I've finally decided to give my long-term "dream" a proper shot and commit to at least one half IM or full IM next year. Depending on what happens in training, I'll be entering either HIMUK or IMUK next year; if I choose HIMUK I may also enter the Vitruvian (got friends in Oakham so it's a great excuse to visit them if nothing else).

So now there's just the small matter of training.

I'm coming from a base of virtually nowt; I've never done a triathlon before, and I only picked up running and biking again about a month ago after a long (8 month+) layoff from both. I'm currently doing about 5 hours per week of slow running and cycling; could probably do more if it came to it. I've also got a good 1 1/2 stone or excess lard to shed along the way.

All of the books and sites I've read suggest that you should already be training a fair bit before starting IM training, or should "try a shorter distance for your first couple of seasons". Except I don't want to do anything shorter than a half.

So basically, I need a plan to get me from where I am now to the point where "normal" IM or HIM trianing plans are manageable.


1. Any suggestions on building up my long run distances (and I use the term very loosely)? I can currently only manage 5 miles; should I simply increase distance slowly every week, or would I be better off doing a longer run/walk, and gradually run more and walk less each week?

2. I live 12.5 miles from work, and am tempted to start commuting by bike 3 or 4 days a week. This would get me 75-100 "free" bike miles per week. But are such short stints on the bike too little to help out? I'm thinking at the moment that any time at all on the bike is good, given my low level of fitness right now.

3. I've never swam in open water before. How much practice should I be getting, and will I be OK waiting until next spring to start OW training? Also, anyone know any good locations around Newcastle / southern Northumberland?

4. Any other suggestions for training / planning my initial months at all?

I think that's about it. Just in case it's at all relevant, a bit of info:
- 30 yo male, 6'3" and about 15 stone 7lbs at the moment (wanting to get down to sub-14)
- fairly keen cyclist, though I'vd been off the bike from about July '05 until 3 weeks ago
- longest run I've ever done was a half-marathon 9 years ago.
- haven't swam properly for 15 years, and no access to a pool until August (thereafter I could manage 3 sessions/week)

Thanks in advance for any help and advice!!


  • you don't have to do a season of short races first, that's nonsense. you'll see a lot of threads referring to 'pirates' on here - that's the forum ironman team, many of whom did an Ironman in 9 months or so from where you are now, and had a great laugh along the way.

    next year the pirates are invading ironman austria, i think. maybe do that? i've done both IMA and IMUK, and austria is much, much better. it's one of the best races on the circuit, in fact.

    anyway, training

    overall, there's no rush

    run - build it very slowly. there's plenty of time. i'd keep it all very slow for now, so you wouldn't be too breathless to just about hold a conversation. say do three runs a week, two of an hour and one longer one, start off at 90 minutes and add one mile a week

    bike - again its base that matters, so lots of slow miles. three sessions a week, again 2 times 1 (or 2) hours and one longer. the longer needn't be more than 3 or 4 hours (and you can build up to that)

    swim - it's all about technique, unlike running and cycling. so get a good coach (i'm sure you'll get a recommendation if you say where you live). most people have a tough time at first (unless you can swim crawl already) but after a month or two it suddenly clicks and you go from choking each length to banging out a mile no problem, almost overnight

    have fun!
  • ah newcastle - WildWill is from around there, he'll sort you out a swim coach i'm sure. open water swiming - no need until next season.
  • actually if you can manage it, on a mountain bike with knobbly tyres, the 12.5 miles to work might take about an hour. fitting training around commuting is fine. i'd even say that, if you take it steady, building up to commuting to work by bike every day will give you an excellent cycling base.

    when there are more miles in your legs, maybe leave the bike there one night and jog home, then back in the morning - so that will brak the back of your run training, too. it will take a few months to reach that stage though!
  • candy,

    thanks for the advice so far, much appreciated!

    Regarding the commuting, your idea of a run was pretty much what I'd planned for the future! I'd thought of taking the bus in on a Wednesday morning, then running home on the evening, possibly extending the route slightly over time, to get my longest run of the week in. I hadn't thought of biking in then running that evening and the next morning, but that sounds like a good idea too.

    Relieved to see the "go slow" advice, as that's all I can manage! I hadn't planned to be doing any speed work really, just building up distance which seems to be what you're recommending as well.

    When I get in the pool I'll see what my crawl's like - I used to swim a lot as a teenager, but I'm sure I'll have forgotten every bit of technique I used to have. Recommendations of coaches would be great.

    I've read a fair few of the pirate threads already, I'd love to do IM Austria but I won't be able to manage an excursion abroad next year - hence the range of UK-based options. If I get the bug next year though, then who knows in future...

    Thanks again,
  • no problem - i wouldn't write austria off though, with cheap flights etc it won't cost much (if anything) more than the UK one.

    doing IMUK cost me as much as doing IMLanzarote last year - and more than ironman switzerland! austria has a hundred thousand locals lining the course and playing europop on PAs, the atmosphere is electric.
  • Nick I dont have much time to post now but look at this link to a thread I started in the same vein 3 years ago.

    My newbie thread from this time 3 years ago – you can do it :o)
  • blimey, i used to train a lot. used to go faster, too!
  • IM Austria will be much much much better than IMUK 100,000+ people supporting on the course compared to say 5000, in my experince Austria will be a much better organised Ironman experience.

    As Candy says it shoulnd cost to much more, we usually stay in a Youth Hostel and the flights arnt to much say £250 all together.
  • haha, just read the first page, who the f*ck is Andy Collier and Julie Joo lol !!!

    And welcome to the madhouse Nick.
  • remember that Nick Rose 2 charactor who appeared on the austria thread in '04?? he was a dodgy one.
  • It's not really the money that's putting a stopper on foreign travel. I'll already be moving around a fair amount with work this year and next (China, Hong Kong, the US, possibly Singapore), and I don't really want to add any more flights than I have to. Never say never though, I'm keeping my options open so who knows.

    Carl, just to give you an idea how long I've been procrastinating over something like this - I was actually reading this forum in 2003 and remember when you first posted that thread!! God, that's scary - if I'd started when I originally wanted to, instead of putting it off, I could have had 2 seasons of triathlon already.

    I've actually bookmarked that thread now, as a reminder not to put things off so much.
  • Nick, I'm doing my first IM in July - welcome to the club. I have found the beginner training programme on this website really, hugely useful:

    It is only a 20 week programme: I started following it with 28 weeks to go so I repeated a couple of the 4 week training blocks. They are good at replying if you e-mail them any questions too.

    Good luck and welcome to the crazy club!
  • 'i used to train a lot. used to go faster, too!'

    no you didn't, you used to train a lot and then surprise everyone with how slow you could go on so much training.
  • Looking at Barley's old thread made me go all warm and furry.

    That was back in the days when people were nice to each other.

  • no, back then i used to go fast. that training gave me an 11.12. then i did all the b*ll*cks stuff like adding speedwork, and went really slowly.
  • well, not fast obviously. faster than i have since though!
  • remember that Nick Rose 2 charactor

    yep lol !!!
  • When is the AIM next year and is there a website? I am doing the MDS next year but a IM is on my list of things to do.
  • Ironman Austria website

    I don't think the 2007 date is on the site yet but it'll be around the middle of July.
  • Do most people here complete a IM and thats it? Choose another challenge?
  • No, they compete at all sorts of distances. Just the IM has most visibility and the forum does an IM every year. Or at least did one last year and will do another this year.
  • ...and appears to be lining another up for next year.
  • lol who was it that was saying they might have to enter austria before going to germany?!
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