General Discussion Triathlon Talk » couch to IM - timeframe? Rss Feed  
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2006-06-29 8:48 PM

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Worcester, MA
Subject: couch to IM - timeframe?
I'm just starting out, but my long term goal is to complete an IM w/out needing hospitalization.

I haven't seriously worked out in a while (except the last month or so), I'm in my early 30's, and I have a good bit of weight to lose. I have zero running background, some bike background, and I'm a confident, steady swimmer (out of shape former lifeguard, but no competitve experience).

basically, I'm trying to figure out a reasonable timeframe to move up to HIM and IM distances.

My plan for this year is two sprints (and, um, to run a 5K without walking), and then next year a couple more sprints and an oly. after that I get a little fuzzy... assuming I can consistently dedicate myself to training and lose the weight I need to lose, am I looking at 4 years, 5 years, before I have enough of a base that I can undertake IM training without killing myself?

thanks so much - you guys are what is inspiring me to get my out of shape butt off the couch to do this.


2006-06-29 8:53 PM
in reply to: #470377

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Extreme Veteran
Covington (New Orleans), La
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?

I think it depends largely on your level of fitness currently as well as how much time you can devote to training.  

I went from being totally sedentary to first sprint in 6 months.  First Oly 1 year later.  First half Iron 2 years after I started training.  My first IM is scheduled for this November and will be about 2 1/2 years after I got my butt of the couch.   I just kicked up training hours from HIM to IM level and I do anywhere from 8 1/2 hours (rest and recovery) to 16 hours a week.

So long answer to your question - no, I don't think it would take 4 or 5 years to get to IM.  However I will add that my goal is to just finish in 16:59:59!  Maybe if I keep training I'll be more concerned about a respectable time, and that might take several more years to attain.

Keep us posted on your progress, and good luck!

Edited by joannh13 2006-06-29 8:57 PM
2006-06-29 9:28 PM
in reply to: #470377

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SF Bay Area, Mountain View
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?
your lack of running background is probably the bottleneck. (i say probably because some people take to running naturally, but most don't.) building up your legs takes a lot of time.

if you keep at it then my guestimate would be around 2 years. however, life will probably throw you off track more than once, because ultimately the biggest challenge in completing an IM is time management.

good luck!
2006-06-30 7:10 AM
in reply to: #470377

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Crystal Lake, IL
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?

Lots of people probably do it faster, but I'm taking a 3 year approach.  I started last August.  Here's my general plan.  Part of the reason I'm taking 3 years is time to learn training methods and accumulate equipment and I want to do the IM as fast as possible when I do it.

Season 1:  Sprint, OLY, 2 mi OWS, half marathon.

Season 2:  1/2 IM, 2 mi OWS, Marathon. (probably smaller races too)

Season 3:  IM  (I'm sure I'll do other races leading up to it).

Season 4:  Having qualified for Kona in my previous IM I enjoy a beautiful 2 week vacation in Hawaii wrapped around my stunning performance in the World Championship.  Wearing a BT tri top and supported by the most amazing crew of jockstraps ever seen, I finish the run side by side with fellow BT'er, Jessi, in her first attempt at Kona.  Unfortunately for Jessi, my wife accidentally knocks her to the ground in her rush to congratulate me.


2006-06-30 10:44 AM
in reply to: #470377

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Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?

See how your body reacts to endurance training.  This will be your best indicator.

I suspect that your body will be injury prone the first couple years if you overreach too much.

I did my first IM race in my 9th year in the sport, but that's just because I didn't have any desire to do an IM race until after 8 years in the sport and not because it took me that long to build to it.

Your biggest hurdle at this point is your body's ability to handle the impact of running and your mind's ability to handle the consistency of training.


2006-06-30 12:24 PM
in reply to: #470902

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Crystal Lake, IL
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?

I feel like I should have qualified my post by stating "IM attempt" considering how early I am in the process and how much can change between now and then.  I'm considering this a journey during which I will learn what kind of triathlete I can be.  For now I think I am best suited to longer distances and I hope that includes the IM distance.  I may discover otherwise and that will be ok too.

One thing that has always been true of me is that I will never be fast but I suffer well.  I think this will serve me well.

Good luck in your journey. 


2006-06-30 12:54 PM
in reply to: #470377

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Wandering through AZ
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?

I'm with the others in the 3 year/season approach. Getting a number of shorter tris under your belt before attempting to go long will get you used to what goes on in a tri and minimize the chances for unexpected things to mess up a very long and very expensive race.

I went with that approach. 1st year sprint to end of year Olympic, 2nd year olympic to end of year 1/2, and 3rd year IM.


2006-07-03 4:20 PM
in reply to: #470377

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Portland, OR
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?
I went from completely sedentary couch potato to IM trainee like this:

9/02 - Start losing weight (358lbs)
12/02 - First 5k at 20m mile pace
5/03 - Started jog/walking
8/03 - First Sprint Triathlon (290lbs)
11/03 - First Half-Mary
6/04 - First Century
8/04 - First Olympic (230lbs)
11/04 - First 1/2 IM (220lbs)
6/05 - Knee Surgery
6/06 - Olympic with 25% time improvement (200lbs)
7/06 - 2nd 1/2 IM (next week)

6/07 - First IM hopefully at 180lbs

You can absolutely do it but realize that sometimes life doesn't always fit your schedule. After finishing my first 1/2 IM in 2004 I totally planned to register for IM 2006 but ended up spending the whole summer of 2005 on crutches. It's ok though, I'm fitter and stronger now than I could have imagined.

2006-07-04 11:14 AM
in reply to: #470377

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Royersford, PA
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?
The key is to take your time and slowly build yourself up to it and not be in to much of a hurry.
Season 1: Early in the year I worked on getting back into shape and losing weight (220 to 175) and getting my running legs back. Did my first few sprint Tris.
Season 2: Did a marathon, a couple of half marathons, a couple of sprints and an Olympic distance tri and got the idea I could do an IM in my head.
Season 3: Did 2 Half Ironmans, a century, a marathon and several sprints.
Season 4: 2 HIMs, Olympic, a Half marathon, several Sprints and IMFL in Nov.

Get yourself a decent bike and ride lots!! Stick with and Enjoy the ride!
2006-07-04 1:43 PM
in reply to: #470377

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Bay Area, CA
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?

I agree with Steve-.  See how you do with the Oly training.  Then ramp up to the 1/2 IM and see how you feel with that.  Your areas of weakness will become more apparent and you will see what you need to work on.

FWIW - I've been in the sport for about 6 years and I've seen improvments every year.  However, I did have a complete and total "bad personal stuff" period of about 9 months in 2004-2005 where I did not work out for 9 months.  I've done Sprints and Oly's prior to 2004, and a 1/2 marathon.

Background:  Not a couch potato prior to tri's but never seriously an athlete either.  I've never been in any kind of organized sport - so for me, it's taken some time to ramp up to be able to even handle the amount of training you need to successfully complete the longer distance races (and I include Oly's in that.)  I've done one race that turned into survival mode - and I never want to do that again.  If I'm not well-prepared I'd rather not do it.

Here's me:

2005 - get back into shape, did a 55 mile organized ride, some OW swim races, and a couple of 5k's.

2006 - Sprint Tri, Oly tri this weekend, planning another in September, plus a 10k in the middle there.  After September planning on doing running races, some 10k's and at least one 1/2 marathon, as running is my biggest limiter.  This is the first year ever I've done 6-10 hour weeks consistently without feeling like I was working too hard.

2007 - Planning on doing at least one 1/2 IM.

I found that my fitness has increased steadily but I've also learned to listen to my body and back off if I feel like it's too hard or I'm not having fun.  I'm in this for longevity, not to do one IM and burn out.  After the 1/2 IM next year, I will then evaluate whether or not I'll be up for a full IM in 2008.

That's my plan - you decide what's right for you.

2006-07-04 1:55 PM
in reply to: #470377

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Bellingham, Washington
Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?

1 June 2002.  Stopped Smoking and started walking (around 230lbs).  My shins killed me during power walks and hamstrings were strained.

Nov 2003   Seattle Half Marathon  around 215lbs

May 2004  Vancouver Marathon

June- Sept 2004 two sprint Triathlons

Oct 2004 Portland Marathon

Jan 2005 Las Vegas Marathon

April 2005 Whidby Island Marathon

Aug 2005 Olympic Triathlon

Nov 2005 Seattle Marathon

June 2006  IRONMAN CDA  (205lbs)

Start slow, let the body adjust.  Nothing worse than down time because of injuries.  Remember that the body needs rest.

2006-07-05 1:16 AM
in reply to: #470377

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Subject: RE: couch to IM - timeframe?
The second triathlon I did was a half Iron which I fifnished in a decent time of 5:17, but I had a previous athletic background as a soccer player, so endurance in running was already there. For me the challenge was the bike portion. I just finished that half last month and it ttok me 2 weeks to recover but I have a full ironman coming up in August. If you want I will let you know how it goes, I am expecting to finish, but I have no time goals really. If I finish that would be less than a year of doing tris for me.
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General Discussion Triathlon Talk » couch to IM - timeframe? Rss Feed