FAQ I am thinking of doing Ironman

Question: I am thinking of doing the South African Ironman next year.
Problem is, I haven't trained at all in 5 years, and I’m overweight and not fit at all. Do you think with hard work and dedication I can do it?

Ironmate reply: This is one of the few Ironman triathlons, which we have not done and plan to do in the next 2 years.

Thanks for your question.
Where do we begin?
How far away do you live from the Ironman? Are you able to train on the course at least twice before April next year?
You are now 28 so have not trained since you were 23? What did you do in your 20's? Weight is not problem fitness is your main aim. Improving your fitness and you will naturally lose some weight.
Without knowing your previous fitness history and injuries if any, it is impossible to know where and how you need to start to build up for the Ironman.
Ask yourself the following questions and look at what you need to do each month. If you can follow such a plan then you will be able to complete the Ironman come race day.
What do you think you are able to do now, how many miles could you cycle non- stop and how far could you swim without stopping?What sort of work do you do? Sitting all day has its problems just like hard physical work. This will also limit your ability to absorb training volumes, sitting versus manual work?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?
How many hours can you train a week/month? Until next April (barring injury and illness). Everyone has a limit before they get sick or run down.
You will need to work back from the Ironman to work out your training.
Below is a summary of where you will need to be, this is not to put you off but the distance is the same for everyone. We all just take a different time in each event to complete all three to cross the finish line in the Ironman.
This is a steep curve from nothing and expect set backs during your build up this is natural. You are starting from no base fitness and need to be bale to cover 3.8 km swim 180 Km and 42 km marathon all in one day, actually 16-17 hours!!
You can get by with less but you may risk not finishing a discipline in time to be allowed to continue.


The three long sessions, swimming cycling and running once a month within 7 days gets you use to doing them before you have to complete all three on the same day.,br>

Back to back sessions- you should be rested in the 2-4 days before, as this is your key weekly session. Aim to spend twice the time cycling as running i.e. 2 hour bike 1 hour run)

October - Be able to cover 50% in swimming cycling and 33% in running in 7 days once in the month .
I.e. Monday swim 1,900m Thursday Running 15km running and Sunday 80km bike.
Include 2 bike and runs 2-3.5 hours in October.

November up to 65% in all three sports in 7 days once in the month i.e. Monday Swim 2,470m Thursday Run 17-21 km and Sunday bike 117 km
Include one back to back bike and run 3-4 hours
Include one long distance easy cycle 3.5-5 hour in November

December 75% in all three sports in 7 days once in the month
Include one back to back bike runs of 4-5 hours
Include one long distance cycle 6 hours + in December

January -Be able to cycle at least once 170 km & Swim 3.5km non stop during the month. Aim to do these 7-10 days apart.
Include one back to back bike runs 5- 6 hours
Include one long distance cycle 7 hours + in January

February -Be able to swim non stop 3.8km & Run/ walk 33 km aim to do both 7- 10 days apart.
Include I back-to-back bike & run 4-5 hours at predicted Ironman pace

March - More race pace than distance.
Include two race pace 30-50% distance Swim Bike run on same day. Can have rest between. Any order i.e. Swim Run Bike as injury prevention.
By Mid March you should have done all the work and now consider tapering.

APRIL -Long session are key lots of rest in between April
Week one 50% of average time trained last 8 weeks
Week two less than 10% before Ironman day.
Crash taper for 13th.

You only have 270 days to go until 13th April 2008!

Team Ironmate does not normally advise any one to compete in an Ironman unless they have at least 3 years in Triathlon and have completed 1-3 middle distance triathlons or have had 5 years in long distance swimming cycling or running.

If you competed in the past as a swimmer cyclist or runner then you will at least be 25% of the way to finishing an Ironman. Having learnt the basics from one sport you just have to improve two.
The Ironman is an individual sport and providing you can exit the water in the cut off swim time then finish the cycle again inside the cut off time you should be able to complete the Ironman course providing you are able to run some of the way.

If you decide to do it in 2009 you must go and watch the race beforehand, even helping out at a feed station and learn from helper’s point of view what athletes really want during the race.
Suggest you watch an Ironman on TV/DVD although often you only get an Elite/Top triathlete prospective.

if you really want to do it you probably can do it; you will need to be committed until next April though.
You live in South Africa you will used to the heat, most European athletes will still be training in their winter to start of spring!!
You will still get dehydrated so need to learn to drink enough on long cycle and running training sessions.You are young enough to be able to cope with slow natural progressive build up.

without a past history of Olympic and half Ironman distance events- Pacing & Nutrition you will not know your body enough to know how much training you can absorb. Then comes the tricky part about race pace judgment and more importantly race day nutrition for the Ironman.

More Triathletes fail to finish or achieve their true potential in an Ironman because they have not learnt their own individual nutritional needs. Fluid and calories an hour you can cope with without running out of energy or becoming sick from taking in too much!!

How will your body cope with 9 months build up for 13/4/2008?You will need to have a break from training then build up again (otherwise you will be mentally worn out) plus a 4-week taper.
This only leaves you 7 months to get ready.Running tends to be the highest injury sport of the three but is good for losing weight; until you are down to 20-25% body fat restrict your running.

You will need to be able to cover at least 75% of the Ironman distance in your training all within 7 days by Christmas I.e. Monday Swim 2,800m (1.2 miles) Wednesday Run 31.5 km (19.6 miles) Sunday Bike 135km(84 miles).

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