Triathlon Training: Are You Ready for an Ironman?

Active Expert Gale Bernhardt fields questions from readers on doing their first Ironman, defining "interval," and focusing your training.

Am I Ready for an Ironman?

Q. I finished my first Olympic-distance tri this year after following your training plan. I struggled at first with my goggles in the swim and rode my bike a little too fast, so I walked part of the 10K—but overall had a very rewarding experience. You guessed it, I'm hooked. Am I ready to train for a half-distance race? Could a couple of half-Ironman events lead me to Ironman Florida in 2008? Gale, thank you so much for your help. I was injury free and never had soreness (except the day after the race). I'm 57 years old and the little boy in me is excited again. God bless you!

A. Greetings A.E., Thanks for dropping us a note to let us know you enjoyed my training plan and Active Trainer. A big congrats to you for finishing the race, well done!

I am currently working with a fellow who is 51. He did sprint races and one Olympic triathlon his first year—a mere nine months after learning to swim. Like you, after doing the races he was hooked on the sport and had his eye on Ironman Florida.

He spent his second year in the sport continuing to build his swimming technique and fitness. He also worked on building overall triathlon endurance by successfully completing two half-ironman distance events. In 2007, his third year as a triathlete, he very successfully completed Ironman Florida. 

I think it is possible for you to be ready for an Ironman Florida 2008. However, with the limited information I have about you, my initial reaction is for you to use 2008 to get more experience under your belt and at least one 70.3-distance race. Aim to do an Ironman race in 2009. I know it's a long way away, but unless you have a deep history of endurance sports, I think you would have a more positive experience if you would use next year to build your fitness. This is the same advice I gave the now 53-year-old fellow I mentioned.

One other thing to realize is that many Ironman events sell out fast. Ironman Florida is already full for 2008. Now is the time to start planning for 2008 and even 2009. Set your goals, know when and how to register, and begin mapping out how your training will conform to that schedule. This will help you create a clear path to your chosen finish line.

Thanks again for your nice words about the training program. Keep us posted on what you do for fun and fitness.

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