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7710 Views 11 Replies Latest reply: Dec 21, 2005 10:59 PM by kelownascott
helminger Amateur 17 posts since
Jul 9, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Oct 14, 2005 4:04 PM

training regimen for ironman for complete beginner

i'm signed up for my first ironman (and triathlon for that matter) and it takes place in sept '06. my biking is fine. i'm confident i can bring my running up to speed to get me through. my swim is horrible though. i've been in the pool now for 2-3 months, and i don't feel like i'm making the progress i should be.


currently, i do anywhere from 800-1200 yards in increments of 100 yards. i've only tried going farther than 100 yards once and it was ok, but anything beyond that feel like it'll be impossible. my form feels efficient and like i'm not wasting energy. it takes me 17-19 strokes to travel a length of the pool and i take a breath every five strokes. i don't kick as hard as i could, but i feel i should train this way because that's how i plan to do it in the ironman. i think my biggest problem is thinking too much, because when i start thinking in the water, my breathing gets out of whack. it feels like i don't exhale my entire breath either. after awhile, it starts to take its toll.


any suggestions? i'm not sure if i should be doing long, slow training, or focusing on breaking things up - mixing up long and slow with fast and intense.


alright, i'll leave it at that. thanks for reading.

  • Joe_h1 Community Moderator 1,833 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Sep 27, 2005 8:34 AM (in response to helminger)
    .02 from an non-ironman

    great news is you've got lots of time. definitely train your weaknesses - check around for a local master's swimming or your local tri clubs swimming workout and have someone w/ some swimming knowledge watch you swim they can help you improve your form and get you where you want to go.  as a starting point check the IM training plans at or or the books triathlete training bible by Friel or Training plans for multisport athletes by bernhardt or Triathlon 101 by Mora. begin thinking about nutrtion on race day which is CRITICAL on longer events. maybe think about a coach to help too if that fits your budget. have fun and good luck

    goals for 2011:

    break 19minutes for 5k

    break 2:42 for olympic triathlon probably Anthracite olympic

    break 3:16 for marathon ( a long shot but it's fun putting yourself out there)

  • jkenny5150 Legend 252 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    A couple things:

    1. Try a shorter triathlon before you do the ironman.  It could be a sprint or olympic distance, but do a race first.  I couldn't imagine starting out with the ironman distance.

    2. Breath more often than every 5th stroke for your long races.  Every 3 is probably better.  You will be short on oxygen if you maintain every 5.  Also, keep the light kicking.  There is no need to overkick for distance swimming.

    3. Gradually increase your yardage in the pool and like Joe said, look into a masters team or someone to swim with as you build.


    Good luck.

  • rkarboviak Pro 154 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    I'd recommend starting in the sprint distances first, the Ironman is a grueling test and you might just set yourself up for failure if its your first one.  Granted, if you have the time for it, I would actually suggest building up your endurance as you are doing now, and incorporating some sprint distance tri's in the spring and summer next year, and then maybe an Olympic or Half-IM, using them as preparation races for the transition portions of the race.  Use them and count those races as 'workouts' in preparation for your bigger one. If anything, get some prior tri experience before you get a big event like a full Ironman to compete in. 


    Rick Karboviak, CSCS

  • Wonatriver Pro 80 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    One of the most gratifying things about being in to fitness is when people say I'm crazy for going on a 10 mile run or 50 mile bike ride to train or just for enjoyment. I've run marathons and have done several centuries. I can't imagine putting those together with a 2.4 mile swim without the background and experience the shorter distances will give you. The ironman is an almost inconceivable feat for elite and experienced mid-packers, but for first-timers, it seems foolhardy. Listen to the advice posted above.

  • jkenny5150 Legend 252 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    It shouldn't take you 5 strokes to exhale completely.  Sometimes I do this in one stroke (breathe left, right, left constantly), but this is not recommended.  Yes, you should breathe out through both the mouth and nose until it feels natural.

  • ahnwhitfield Rookie 5 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    I did 2 tri's before my first IM, and then stayed with the IM. The only thing you'll get from racing shorter distances is speed, and as an Iron-Rookie you don't need that. If you want to race IM - go for it!


    A few things I've learnt from IM's over the last 3 years:

    1. Get Joe Friel's 'Going Long', read it very very carefully and follow it. Best investment you can make.


    2. Get used to eating/drinking on the bike. If you don't take on enough food and fluid on the bike, you probably won't finish the bike leg, let alone the race.


    3. Periodise your training, and adopt a 'less is more' approach: IF your race is 6months away, you shouldn't be running over 13 miles for you long runs until the last 8 weeks (including a 3 week taper). You will injur yourself otherwise. The most important thing now is to build a solid aerobic base (especially on the bike) and sort out any biomechanical issues you have.


    4. Be an info sponge: there is tons of stuff about IM racing on the web, most of it for free. Check out (articles and race reports on their forum) and for starters. The more opinions you get, the more likely you are to be able to work out what is good for you.

    Good luck and enjoy


  • 218008407 Rookie 4 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Oct 20, 2005 12:42 PM (in response to helminger)
    Re: training regimen for ironman for complete beginner

    I'm kind of a go for it guy myself.  I did my first ever race of an off road triathlon at a ski hill.  It was painful but I beat a lot of people who put in a lot more time in training and equipment.


    Now I'm looking to improve.  My transitions were not very tight, I can improve 1-2 minutes there.  My swim sucked, and I was a HS swimmer.  A wetsuit and learning to sight will cut off 3-5 minutes there.  I hardly ran before and definely was not ready for the first 1.25 mile run straight up a ski run.  Ouch.  I still placed well and amazed several veterans.


    Just get yourself in shape.  Bodyfat down to 10% or less.  You will finish.  Stay within yourself.

  • 218008407 Rookie 4 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Oct 20, 2005 12:56 PM (in response to helminger)
    Re: training regimen for ironman for complete beginner

    On swimming.  It sounds like you need to get your speed up.  I would do a series of short distances and work up to the longer ones.


    For example to start out.


    8x 50's on the minute.  Meaning two lengths of a 25 yard pool.  Each 50 should take 45 seconds or less.  Giving you 15 seconds of rest.  Try to get "up" on the water.  Legs matter but your arms will do much of the work.  For myself, I breathe under my left arm almost every cycle. 


    4x 100s with about 30 seconds rest after each one.


    Eventually mix in a few 200's.  Get so you can do a 500.  Then eventually 3 500s with 1 minute rest. 


    A mile is 1760 yards or about 35 50s.  When getting back into shape I broke a mile up into 500, 500, 650.  Toward the end do 1 mile straight.  If you want to be good at 1/2 tri swim, what is it? 1.25 miles?  You should be able to do 2 miles straight, etc.


    Just for reference, I can do a mile in about 30 minutes in a pool.  I found that my pool skills did not really apply to a cold dark lake.  I could not see where I was going, the cold got to me (lake was about  50 deg), dudes were hackin on me.  So you should blend in practicing outside.  It is much harder. 


    If this were easy everyone would do it.

  • lululemon Amateur 25 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007

    Angus has some great advice.


    I'm also doing my first IM in Penticton 2006 and I've never done a tri either...for that matter I don't even know how to swim - fool hardy - sure some might say but sign up for the 1/2 a marathon...and about the swimming - go to a coach!!!  They'll make you feel like a kid by putting dorky flippers on you and use the kick board but this is what you need - I've already learnt how to swim in 4 lessons!


    You have just over 300 days...use them wisely!



    Enjoy mate!

  • kelownascott Amateur 11 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Dec 21, 2005 10:59 PM (in response to helminger)
    Re: training regimen for ironman for complete beginner

    Angus had a great post. The info sponge bit is great - you could also try and get in on some group rides or work-outs with some experienced IM distance athletes. There are always people happy to help out.


    Lululemon - see you in Penticton . . . .

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