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Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers
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I have always found it frustrating reading advice on this board about Ironman training. What do I need to do to finish an Ironman in a reasonable amount of time? Vast majority of answers: Train 16+ hours a week...run 35+ mpw...swim 4 times a week...run 5 times a week...bike as often as possible and as many long rides over 100 miles as possible...do bricks every weekend of 80/10 or more...

There have been a couple threads as of late talking about training on 10 hours or less and that resonates with me. So I figured now that I have done an IM I would share my numbers so people that don't have time to train 16+ hours a week have the confidence that they can finish and meet realistic goals with consistent but limited training.

History:
2013: Swim: 16,050 yards // Run: 346 miles // Bike: 2,618 miles
2014: Swim: 165,050 yards // Run: 450 miles // Bike: 2,705 miles
2015: Swim: 164,400 yards // Run: 732 miles // Bike: 3,128 miles
2016: Swim: 45,250 yards // Run: 681 miles // Bike: 1,900 miles

2017 per week leading up to IM WI:
Swim: 1:40:00 // 4,900 yards
Run: 2:35:00 // 17 miles
Bike: 3:40:00 // 65 miles

My 2017 totals include training for a marathon (April) where I peaked at 30 miles and averaged 20mpw leading up to the marathon. As you can imagine it was a shit show. I paced terribly and ended up falling apart by mile 19. Yeah, under trained and under "experienced". Alas, marathon training isn't the point of this post.

Olympic Tri in June
Half Ironman in July
Longest Rides: 81, 90, and 100
Longest Runs (after marathon training): 10, 13.1, 13.1, 16
Longest Brick (not counting HIM obviously): 60/8.8...1 or 2 other much shorter bricks
Longest Swim: 2.4 miles twice otherwise masters twice a week
Peak Week: 14:33:00
Peak 6 Week Average: 12 hours
Bike TSS Per Week Average (2017): 187 TSS
Peak 6 Week Bike TSS Average: 398 TSS

IM WI Times:
Swim - 1:10:34 - super relaxed never pushed pace
Bike - 6:11:15 - 0.67 VI so basically soft pedaled and stopped 5 times (4 for bathroom...wow over-hydrated...and 1 special needs for chamois cream/sun screen...yes, I lost 14 minutes due to stops...oh well)
Run - 4:24:25 - used a run/walk strategy that led to my 2nd half only being 4 minutes slower than the first
Total - 12:03:37 - yeah, took my sweet sweet time in transition

Fast? Not by any stretch of the imagination and certainly not fast for this crowd. But it put me in the 83rd percentile of finishers and I went for a bike ride 2 days later to enjoy being outdoors.

In conclusion, train as much as you are able to but do not feel pressured by your perceptions of what Ironman training is. Consistency will always beat big blocks especially if consistency keeps you healthy.

Flame away!
Last edited by: badgertri: Sep 13, 17 13:12
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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How old are you
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [Kenney] [ In reply to ]
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Kenney wrote:
How old are you

32
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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I can see off the bat the mileage/time on the bike is way low and 187 a week says with it being so low, intensity is not high enough to compensate.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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Some guys your age even get to Kona (and more importantly, race well in Kona) on training in the low-to-mid teens per week. Just the way it is.

If you are enjoying your training as an amateur, then that is literally the most important thing. And I will say that should be the most important factor for the majority of pros too....
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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Impressive! I also believe in low mileage and it has done me well. It's great that you fought the urge to overtrain and start hating the sport. The fact that you even WANTED to ride 2 days later means you won. Keep building base on those low miles and watch your times drop....Nicely done!
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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Well done on your finish.

Not to start a pissing contest - I agree with you but managed even less training for my 13'37" finish at Ironman Gurye in Korea (first IM).

I'm 45 and have been doing one annual 70.3 and one annual Marathon for the past 5-6 years. I work long hours and manage two kids, so had just one hour on weekday mornings, with longer on my one/two days off.

I put in a solid and consistent 24 weeks training but averaged at 6 hours 40 mins per week. Biggest week was 9 hours 30 mins. Biggest ride was 102km in 4 hours. I threw in (Vietnam) 70.3 in May and (San Francisco) Marathon in July (PB).

I knew my swim needed work, so made sure I got 3 swims in a week, average around 1.5 - 2km but got above 3km twice. I'm a decent runner so really just maintained throughout with 2 runs a week average around 12km. I needed some long bike sessions so managed one per week - usually 2-3 hours but got up to the 4 hour mark twice.

I was nervous going into the race - I felt I hadn't done enough - but held it together on the day for a 1'32/6'47/5'00 performance. Not great - top 35% - but perfectly adequate for me in my first IM. On to the next one!
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [Jigsy] [ In reply to ]
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Jigsy wrote:
Well done on your finish.

Not to start a pissing contest - I agree with you but managed even less training for my 13'37" finish at Ironman Gurye in Korea (first IM).

I'm 45 and have been doing one annual 70.3 and one annual Marathon for the past 5-6 years. I work long hours and manage two kids, so had just one hour on weekday mornings, with longer on my one/two days off.

I put in a solid and consistent 24 weeks training but averaged at 6 hours 40 mins per week. Biggest week was 9 hours 30 mins. Biggest ride was 102km in 4 hours. I threw in (Vietnam) 70.3 in May and (San Francisco) Marathon in July (PB).

I knew my swim needed work, so made sure I got 3 swims in a week, average around 1.5 - 2km but got above 3km twice. I'm a decent runner so really just maintained throughout with 2 runs a week average around 12km. I needed some long bike sessions so managed one per week - usually 2-3 hours but got up to the 4 hour mark twice.

I was nervous going into the race - I felt I hadn't done enough - but held it together on the day for a 1'32/6'47/5'00 performance. Not great - top 35% - but perfectly adequate for me in my first IM. On to the next one!

This is awesome! Fantastic effort on that amount of training.

I just think sometimes people end up overtraining because they think they have to be training themselves into the ground. For people wanting to accomplish something big and enjoy the experience they should feel empowered to train smart and not just destroy themselves.

I'm not mentally built for heavy training. I prefer to spend time with my family and do stuff around the house. I love 6-8 hours a week but when it gets more than that it's no longer fun and becomes a second job. I know we're not all the same but I want others to feel it's ok and they can still accomplish big goals.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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I agree! Family first, training after that. I hate getting up early, but stuck to my routine - up at 6, drop kids at school by 7 and training from 7-8. I'm lucky that I can train at work though (pool, spinning bike or head out for a run) - that made a big difference.

I'm tall and skinny (194cm and 82kg) which helps too - if I had weight to lose, maybe I would have needed to do more. I also got lucky with sickness, just had one bought of flu in the middle. My 3-week vacation to California set me back a little I think, but I got some good running in and I think the break from the bike and swim helped me.

I did 3-4 bricks, but longest was an 8km run off a 2.5 hour bike. I train in the heat and humidity of HK though, maybe that helped a lot? Race day was warm, but nowhere near as uncomfortable as HK.

I can maybe take up to one hour off my time - 30mins off the bike, 15-30 off the run and maybe 5-10 off the swim. I'll never be Kona-bound, but nice to have a goal.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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wow thanks for the thread OP

I'm just a casual try-er and am even slower/older/put up less time commitment than you but I thought one factor might bear consideration you aren't looking at [or aren't, because it doesnt apply to you]

namely the run. Anyone really can do the swim/bike. What matters is the run. I barely can put the work in to complete a marathon standalone and as is I can baarely sneak under 4H anyways. I figure I'd be pushing 6 in an ironman if not worse.

Anyways I'm around 5:30 in a 70.3 so that should translate to a 12-13 hour finish except for that one teeny little detail. I'm undertrained on the run. A marathon is hard for me, and I tend to get injured when I ramp up running [I barely scratch 30 mpw in any event so this isnt significant and still counts as undertrained I'm fairly certain]

so the extent of my rambling is to say as much as I want to wholeheartedly agree with you and just jump out there and nab a 1st timer 12-13 hr full based on my supposed current fitness I don't think its in the cards for me. The run would have to be some kind of gallowalking compromise I guess and then if I re-oriented my thinking around accepting that I suppose I could go around 13-14. But I'm not interested in gallowalking the run so I'm not going to sign up until I'm in such condition that a marathon is something I can do more regularly.

Just my theory anyways. Open to other opinions. I completed the SF marathon last year, and am signed up for CIM this year but will have to cancel because [you guessed it] I was injured for much of the year with a foot/achilles thing and missed training block after training block and simply havent put in the work to permit finishing a marathon un-injured. [My recovery from the SF marathon last year on a different injury almost took me out of running completely I had thought].

I'm not super obese or anything [6'1, 187#, bf is 14.n%], but sure could lose a couple but man it seems like marathons just arent my thing so for that reason I think a full will be forever out of my reach unless I get to the point where I'm marathon-capable I guess. You know, a nice 12-18 week block of 35-55 mpw and long runs out to 18 or so and remaining un-injured throughout. I've just never been able to do that. Something miraculous will have to change for that to happen because every time I try I get injured and have to back off. I'm 44 so probably age is part of it, also being an adult onset runner [40+] is working against me. Anyways sorry to rant on your thread. Kudos for your success I just wanted to offer a different perspective. On paper it feels like I could perform similarly but I know I just can't and its because the run will injure me either in the event itself or in the training prior

//Noob triathlete//bike commuter//ex-swimmer//slower than you

Last edited by: Freddo: Sep 13, 17 22:30
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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First off, congrats on an amazing time with minimal training. However, you do realize that you had 4 years of pretty good conditioning building into 2017? =)

At the end of the day, everyone's experience and everyone's body handles training differently (and consequently race differently).

IM is a long day for every one relatively. With that said, there are that many more variables that come into play than just how much time and how effective the training is.

Though there may be some common guidelines, I don't think there's really a set rule or advice anyone can give that is a one size fits all for this distance.

That's why some times doing a race is in fact training as well.

In short, I completely agree with you in that IM training can be done without an insane amount of time invested. However, that will vary from person to person and depend on their goals.
Last edited by: Brian7581: Sep 13, 17 23:38
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [Brian7581] [ In reply to ]
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Brian7581 wrote:
First off, congrats on an amazing time with minimal training. However, you do realize that you had 4 years of pretty good conditioning building into 2017? =)

In short, I completely agree with you in that IM training can be done without an insane amount of time invested. However, that will vary from person to person and depend on their goals.

The history was part of my point. Consistently get out there and put miles in. It doesn't have to be big miles but get something in every week and it really adds up. I don't think I've taken more than a couple days off in the last 5 years but the days on aren't crazy training days that wear me out they are "just being active".

Agreed that everyone is different. I think I have OK genetics. Nothing great but enough to put up MOP times with minimal commitment.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [Freddo] [ In reply to ]
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Freddo wrote:

The run would have to be some kind of gallowalking compromise I guess and then if I re-oriented my thinking around accepting that I suppose I could go around 13-14. But I'm not interested in gallowalking the run

Just curious why? Is it a pride thing? I used a gallowalking strategy during IM and it allowed me to maintain a similar pace all day off 17mpw. 4:24 is certainly not a fast time but I was passing people in droves at the end and I ran the last 1.5 miles.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [badgertri] [ In reply to ]
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Peeing lower ;-) , my 2017 stats:
30 swims: 57km / 25hrs
40 bike rides: 2.150km in 82hrs
76 runs; 800km / 79hrs
My apologies for not providing imperial values ;-) .

That includes 2 IM distance races in 13:16 and 13:27.

Races excluded that’s a total of 160hrs, makes a lill’ bit less than 4.5hrs per week.

49 / 6’2’’ / 175lbs. My work involves lots of travel, compromising sleep is not an option for me to stay healthy.

Everything is possible. Just do it :-) !
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [IronAchim] [ In reply to ]
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IronAchim wrote:
30 swims: 57km / 25hrs
40 bike rides: 2.150km in 82hrs
76 runs; 800km / 79hrs
abpou
Metric is fine for me in Germany (same for you if I go by your first name) ;-)

Well, my punch line here: Pretty high running volume ratio compared to swim and bike. This is probably the key as stated by Freddo before. Swim is relatively short and typically won't hurt yourself, bike easily/steadily and then you need to survive the run. It basically all starts after you racked your bike in T2. Or even later ;-)

This all reminds me that I wanted to write a "sub10/sub10" thread with my such experience made this year. Train sub10, finish sub10...
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [IronAchim] [ In reply to ]
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I just don't get it.

Yes, clearly it's possible to muddle thru 1 or several IM's on very low volume, but why??

What's the point?

If you don't have a ton of time to train, why not just do HIM's?
Or Oly's?
Or (GASP!) - Sprints?


float , hammer , and jog

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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [Murphy'sLaw] [ In reply to ]
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ditto!
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [Murphy'sLaw] [ In reply to ]
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Murphy'sLaw wrote:
I just don't get it.

Yes, clearly it's possible to muddle thru 1 or several IM's on very low volume, but why??

What's the point?

If you don't have a ton of time to train, why not just do HIM's?
Or Oly's?
Or (GASP!) - Sprints?

Tell me why you feel it's a requirement to train 20+ hours a week?

What's the point of that much training if you're missing out on your family and feeling fatigued all the time?

If they're happy with there results then awesome. Not all people are looking to crush every training session, or every race. If you're not a pro then you're out to have fun so good for this person. I'm impressed! Good for you!! Keep it up!
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [new_trimes] [ In reply to ]
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his point then do shorter stuff. makes total sense.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [MattQ] [ In reply to ]
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MattQ wrote:
his point then do shorter stuff. makes total sense.

How and why does it make sense? You're telling me that if you only have 10 hours a week to train you're excluded from an Ironman?
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [new_trimes] [ In reply to ]
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for me yes, I am at a point where I want to be competetive not a "finisher" if life is busy I will adjust goals around how much time I have, training 10 hrs a week for a 10-15 hr race doesnt make much sense but some can, that is "some" but these "some" usually have lots of sucess prior to this lower volume so they have a solid foundation of fitness to work with. Not a fan of the everyone is a winner thing, its a race, if I cant race I will pick something I Can.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [MattQ] [ In reply to ]
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MattQ wrote:
for me yes, I am at a point where I want to be competetive not a "finisher" if life is busy I will adjust goals around how much time I have, training 10 hrs a week for a 10-15 hr race doesnt make much sense but some can, that is "some" but these "some" usually have lots of sucess prior to this lower volume so they have a solid foundation of fitness to work with. Not a fan of the everyone is a winner thing, its a race, if I cant race I will pick something I Can.


That's great. Good! For you your goal is to be competitive. However, if you go back and reread the post, the person is simply stating that he or she is simply stating don't be discouraged if your goal is to only finish. Completing an Ironman can be done and you don't have to train crazy hours.


Or, said another way. We're not all built the same. Our goals and lives are different. You do you and I will do me. We all had different paths to the starting line. But, we showed up and we're all here to do our personal best.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [new_trimes] [ In reply to ]
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new_trimes wrote:
Murphy'sLaw wrote:
I just don't get it.

Yes, clearly it's possible to muddle thru 1 or several IM's on very low volume, but why??

What's the point?

If you don't have a ton of time to train, why not just do HIM's?
Or Oly's?
Or (GASP!) - Sprints?


Tell me why you feel it's a requirement to train 20+ hours a week?

What's the point of that much training if you're missing out on your family and feeling fatigued all the time?

If they're happy with there results then awesome. Not all people are looking to crush every training session, or every race. If you're not a pro then you're out to have fun so good for this person. I'm impressed! Good for you!! Keep it up!

Whats the point of paying $750+ to go have a long slow training day?
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [ffmedic84] [ In reply to ]
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ffmedic84 wrote:
new_trimes wrote:
Murphy'sLaw wrote:
I just don't get it.

Yes, clearly it's possible to muddle thru 1 or several IM's on very low volume, but why??

What's the point?

If you don't have a ton of time to train, why not just do HIM's?
Or Oly's?
Or (GASP!) - Sprints?


Tell me why you feel it's a requirement to train 20+ hours a week?

What's the point of that much training if you're missing out on your family and feeling fatigued all the time?

If they're happy with there results then awesome. Not all people are looking to crush every training session, or every race. If you're not a pro then you're out to have fun so good for this person. I'm impressed! Good for you!! Keep it up!


Whats the point of paying $750+ to go have a long slow training day?

Point is that everyone's goals and lives are different.
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Re: Limited Ironman Training by the Numbers [new_trimes] [ In reply to ]
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new_trimes wrote:
Murphy'sLaw wrote:
I just don't get it.

Yes, clearly it's possible to muddle thru 1 or several IM's on very low volume, but why??

What's the point?

If you don't have a ton of time to train, why not just do HIM's?
Or Oly's?
Or (GASP!) - Sprints?

Tell me why you feel it's a requirement to train 20+ hours a week?

What's the point of that much training if you're missing out on your family and feeling fatigued all the time?

If they're happy with there results then awesome. Not all people are looking to crush every training session, or every race. If you're not a pro then you're out to have fun so good for this person. I'm impressed! Good for you!! Keep it up!

You completely missed my point.

It's why IM??

If you're time limited for training, why participate in events that generally require a lot of time for proper training?
It makes no sense.

Would you do Ultra running if you could only run 20-30 mpw?
No, that would be moronic.
How is IM any different?

Also - I have never trained 20+ hours in a week in my entire lifetime, in spite of doing quite a bit of LC racing from '05-'12.
And actually *competing*, not just *completing*

I'm probably one of the poster children for AG'ers racing LC well on limited training, so I totally get the concept.

But even I also had to know when to say when, and given my even further reduced training the past 5-ish years, I've stuck with mostly only doing shorter events -
that better correspond to the training inputs I am able to muster.


float , hammer , and jog

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