Originally posted by BakerBryan Is it possible for an overweight 51 year old man to complete an ironman in one year?
Yes, it's possible. Indeed I worked with an athlete last year that went from never having done a triathlon to an Ironman finish in less than 6-months. Although, he came from a marathon background so had a reasonably well developed aerobic base.
However, because you CAN do something, doesn't always mean you SHOULD do that thing.
For most athlete's I've worked with, the actual race is the easy part. The training is the hard part.
The challenge, when you consider, "overweight 51 year old man," is remaining injury free during the training and toeing the line healthy. Unless you are planning absolute minimal training - which would likely yield a painful, very long day on race day - your training will build to at least 15-16 hours per week, and easily could go as high as 16-20 hours per week for several months. That's significant training volume for anyone and a recipe for injury if an athlete doesn't have an appropriate base level of fitness.
During an Ironman build, missed workouts compound upon themselves, making training consistency an absolute key. If you've not done a high-volume build, you will quickly discover it can be quite gruelling. The workouts will just keep coming at you. Over the years I've come to see a VERY clear inverse relationship between number of workouts missed and liklihood of success on race day.
It may sound as though I'm trying to talk you out of doing an Ironman in a year. In reality, I'm not so much trying to talk you out of it as making sure you go in with your eyes open.
Here are the cut-off times and the speed/pace you'd need to achieve the cut-offs-
- Swim - 2.4 miles - 2:20 hours - 3:20/100y (3:41/100m)
- Bike - 112 miles - 8:10 hours - 13.23 mph
- Run - 26.2 miles - 6:30 hours - 14:53/mile
None of those cut-off times or speed/paces are overly challenging, however if you're not currently faster than those paces or you've never done anywhere near the distance of each leg at or near those paces, that should give you a moment of pause.
Note: Those cut-offs do NOT include transition times so whatever time you'd take in transition would shorten the cut-off by that amount of time - e.g. if you took 10-minutes in T1, you'd then have 8-hours to complete the bike.
Swimming is quite often the greatest obstacle for those athletes not coming from a swim background. Swimming 3800 meters (4200 yards) in an open water environment with a couple thousand of your closest friends is NOT like swimming the same distance in a pool. If you can't currently swim at sub 1:30/100 yards for at least 1000 yards - GET WITH A QUALIFIED COACH/INSTRUCTOR AND IMPROVE YOUR TECHNIQUE.
You can't have a good run if you don't have a good bike - PERIOD. That makes the bike the single most important leg of an Ironman and that should be where you put at least half of your available training time during the final build.
The run, I encourage all the athletes I work with to use a run/walk strategy during the marathon of an Ironman. Sebastian Kienle used a run/walk strategy on the way to his Ironman World Championship so it's certainly a viable strategy.
Finally, have a plan. I'd suggest you begin working on your base today and continue through the upcoming winter. There are several 140.6 plans here on BT. You can choose one of those (or there are countless plans available from other sources) and then follow it to the letter.
I'll close by saying I generally encourage athletes to adopt a two-year plan for their first Ironman unless they have a well established base. The first year includes a couple of Olympics and at least one, preferably two 70.3 races. The second year includes a 70.3 race and the target 140.6 race. Doing it that way you'd have the time to develop a solid base, and gain experience with nutrition and pacing as you continue to race longer distances.