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2019-09-04 11:17 PM

, Indiana
Subject: couch to Ironman
Is it possible for an overweight 51 year old man to complete an ironman in one year?

2019-09-05 12:01 PM
in reply to: 0

Subject: RE: couch to Ironman
At age 59 I began working out, lost 40 lbs (235 lbs to 195 lbs on a 6' frame), did my first sprint triathlon six months later and did my second tri - a half Ironman - 10 months after that.

Last year I was going to do another 70.3 but I got sick and had to scratch. Back at 235 lbs now but seeing light at the end of the tunnel health wise. I am going to do the Coeur d'Alene 70.3 in 9 months and am about to jump back into training.

I will be in the 65-69 age group this time so I would say yes, you can do what you want to do. Go for it, good luck and have fun!

Edit: I just saw you were talking about a full Ironman and not a half. But you are younger than I, so you can do things I probably cannot. There will be no 140.6 for this boy.

Edited by HaydenHunter 2019-09-05 12:02 PM
2019-09-06 4:34 AM
in reply to: 0

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Official BT Coach
Indianapolis, Indiana
Gold member
Subject: RE: couch to Ironman

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.

Good luck!

2019-09-06 9:50 PM
in reply to: #5262276

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Subject: RE: couch to Ironman
The above poster summarized it perfectly.

My first question was going to be: how long have you been sedentary? Big difference between someone who used to run marathons or do century rides once a month compared to someone with no endurance background.

Folks with an endurance background already have experienced the mental and physical grind of training. Folks get caught up by the shiny accomplishment, but eventually give up once they realize that waking up before dawn each weekend isn’t as fun as they thought it would be.

I imagine that you could probably go out and suffer your way through an Ironman. 17 or 18 hours is a long time to complete an event. That’s a lot of weekends and training sessions to put in the work.
2019-09-08 10:48 AM
in reply to: #5262343

, Indiana
Subject: RE: couch to Ironman
Thank you all for the outstanding replies they definitely opened my eyes. I will take it all into consideration. I have completed a sprint, 2009 chicago marathon and several half marathons. I will start out slow and see what happens. I might lower the bar and shoot for some more sprints and possibly an Olympic. I’ll keep you all posted while I swim bike and run through this adventure
2019-09-08 4:31 PM
in reply to: #5262359

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Subject: RE: couch to Ironman
That sounds like a good plan. Good luck and I look forward to seeing your progress!

Don’t forget that being healthy involves multiple facets of your life. A full distance Ironman tends to take over other aspects of peoples lives, which isn’t healthy.

Also, Ive completed a few marathons but will be the first to admit that I was in way better shape when I was training hard for the 5k distance. I had more time for strength training, social outings, and family life. Not to mention I was in great cardiovascular shape from 5k training.

Don’t feel like you have to complete the longest distance event in a sport to be in great shape. You can spend as much time training to be really competitive at the sprint/Olympic distance rather than just “complete” an Ironman distance.

2019-09-10 10:56 AM
in reply to: k9car363

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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Bronze member
Subject: RE: couch to Ironman

Scott's got good perspective.  

A few years back, I mentored a group and had two people in the group complete an Ironman race within the year of starting.  One had a marathon background, the other wasn't doing anything.  

The key to completing an Ironman race is STARTING it healthy!  (I haven't looked recently, but back when I was doing them, about 95% of the athletes who started--finished it and that included the pro's who drop out rather than pound their bodies on a needless run).  

If it's an important goal, you'll have to reallocate a lot of personal resources to achieve it.  Start with time.  You'll need to find hours.  Probably 4-5 hours per week in the first few months and then 6-10 hours for about 6 months.  You'll have 2 months of peak training with 15 hours (give or take) including 6-hour blocks for long rides and 3-hour blocks for long runs.  Don't kid yourself...if you can't find 4-5 hours now, do you think you'll miraculously find 10 or 15 months from now?  

You might consider hiring a coach, and by hiring a coach, I mean someone who'll spend some time modifying workouts for you based on current performance, outside life, etc. and not just send you the same training plan (s)he sends to all her/his Ironman clients.  

If you want the goal, make it real and don't let even well-intentioned people talk you out of it.  

2019-09-10 11:33 AM
in reply to: BakerBryan

Subject: RE: couch to Ironman
Try lowering the bar and do a 70.3. Enjoy the Ironman experience without killing yourself on the first one.
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