Feasability of finishing a full IRONMAN

I’m seeking some assurance/motivation from my fellow forum members about signing up for a full in 2021. I want to do IM Tulsa next year, since it is my hometown and it’s the first year Tulsa will have an IM. Only problem is I have not finished a half, and IM Tulsa is May 2021, meaning no races beforehand.

In 2019 I did a half and dropped out 8 miles into the run because I thought I wouldn’t make the cutoff (in my dehydrated and malnourished state I thought we only had 3 hours to do the 13.1 mile run), along with absolutely messing up my nutrition on the bike (only consume ~500ish calories). I did the swim in 52 minutes, the bike in 3:20, and 8 miles of the run in 2:09.

This year I have not been able to race at all, expect for a half marathon I did self-pace where I finished in 2:04. My FTP is 189, but I haven’t been training consistently this year because of work and COVID (yay!). I’ve ran a 20 mile race before back in 2018, but never more than that in my life. My swim is also abysmal, but I am aiming to join our local Masters club this winter.

So basically, can I finish it? Have any of you done something similar (crazy goal without doing the race inbetween)? Should I just say no and try it again in 2022 after some more consistent training?

Thanks!

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I would say finishing an Ironman in May 2020 is a longshot for you. Your swim, bike, and run all have a long way to go! Why not try a later in the year ironman. Your previous half-ironman had you at a marathon pace of 7:00, gonna be tough to finish an ironman at that pace.

If you’re up for it, you could enter with low expectations and focus on process goals. Then focus on 2021 as the real goal for finishing.

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May 2021? plenty of time

focus on getting endurance on the swim. i.e. not finishing the swim leg cooked. shaving minutes off a swim is hard as it is all about technique.

spend the majority of training time on the bike and the run. aim to be the strongest you can be on the bike leg.

189 FTP, what is your weight?

3:20 for a half iron man? hmm… was it hilly? if it was pancake flat hmm… plenty of room for improvement :slight_smile:

you should finish the bike leg with plenty of energy. if you finish your bike leg with 90% of Max HR (just an example), you will suffer and pay the price on the run.

the cutoff time is 17hrs? that’s plenty of time. I can tell you from experience it can be done but you need plenty of consistency to get there.

and get your nutrition sorted out. it is foolish to do 500ish calories on a Half IM.

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Its definitely feasible - but it depends on commitment. I say sign up for it. Theres nothing better than signing up for a goal that you think is too out there or makes you feel uncomfortable.

May is 7 months away - that’s enough time to complete the full base build speciality TR full distance plan, which if stuck to, would have you thinking of time goals by the end and not just focusing on making the cut offs.

But - can you commit to that many hours? Do you have potential injuries that would stop you sticking to the plan?

I started a few months back signing up for my first triathlon (a sprint distance). It was cancelled and i presumed i would have to wait until next year before doing my first race. The only race happening near me was a half ironman which i thought was wayyyy out of my capability. Due to some encouragement on the forum (with 6 weeks to go) i decided to go for it. I had done the TR sprint distance base plan and then switched to plan builder for 6 weeks for the half - i got round in a great time and enjoyed the race.

So i say sign up, put the event in plan builder and start following the program as best you can. Join the Ironman thread here. Stay on top of flexibility and nutrition and reap the rewards in May.

Plus its cool to say the first triathlon you completed was an Ironman :grinning:

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Hey @aegcp

focus on getting endurance on the swim. i.e. not finishing the swim leg cooked. shaving minutes off a swim is hard as it is all about technique.

Gotcha, yeah the swim is my weakest part by far. I’m still quite new to it, but hoping to swim a LOT more consistently this winter.

189 FTP, what is your weight?

6’2", 170lbs = 77kg

3:20 for a half iron man? hmm… was it hilly? if it was pancake flat hmm… plenty of room for improvement :slight_smile:

It was Boulder, so not super duper hilly. It was 90+ degrees at altitiude, and I live at sea level.

and get your nutrition sorted out. it is foolish to do 500ish calories on a Half IM.

Agreed. I 100% messed that up. I’ve been working very hard to fuel whenever I’m on the bike. Trying to build healthy habits.

But - can you commit to that many hours? Do you have potential injuries that would stop you sticking to the plan?

I think I can! I’m in my early twenties, and I have no injuries that I know of. I just put the event into Plan Builder last week, Monday was the first day. So far it looks managable, I just worry about consistently getting to the pool.

Plus its cool to say the first triathlon you completed was an Ironman :grinning:

I have done a handful of Sprints and Olympics, so it won’t be the first triathlon, but it’ll be the first longer distance one!

Agreed, a lot to work to do! I might opt for doing one later in the year instead of May, so we’ll see.

Thanks for your input!

I’ve done 5 IM’s and once you have done one you realize that just about anyone could do one

You have to do the work - roughly 28-30 weeks of training - there are no short cuts

You don’t have to be a great athlete - you will see every shape and size at the finish line

You do not need a super complicated or special training plan - I did 4 IM’s on Don Fink’s Ironfit plans and 1 with a coach - I would follow a Don Fink plan in a second with no doubt.

You do need to have a nutrition and basic pacing plan, but once you have done the work - the race itself is “easy” - one long catered race day

I only say easy as you are tapered and feeling great on race day - there will be some training days however where you feel terrible from the buildup of fatigue (i.e. peak week)

Enjoy the journey!

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If you can swim…
You can finish a full ironman.

You just need to put the time, like everyone say.
its a LOT of time tho.

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I would say, based on your current levels and the relatively short timeline, that it’s a bad idea. An ironman is very doable but you have to respect the distance. There’s a good reason why it’s thought of as a major achievement. Getting 6 hours in and dropping out and having the suckiest day of your life might put you off it and that would be a shame. I always think back to a session I did a few weeks before my IM, it was a 100 mile bike ride straight into a 10 mile run. At the time it seemed perfectly sensible and it was easy enough because i had put in the months of training. You’ve got to get pretty good at going very long in 3 sports. That’s a big ask. Try for a half IM in 2021. if you can do that in a good time and still walk afterwards then start looking at the big one.

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Just takes proper motivation and the right course. An old spin instructor finished full IM (Arizona) just under the time limit (midnight I think). She is not fast on the bike and did a lot of walking on the run.

Maybe.

Im very keen in Ironman, but in your place Id ask myself - what’s the rush?

Anyone is better off taking 18-24months prepping for their first Ironman, your run is good enough to finish but your swim risks missing the cutoff and can be the hardest to improve.

There is also the question of whether pools will be open consistently through the winter to allow you to improve.

With commitment, time and patience Im sure youd get to the start and finish lines, but in your place I would train for Ironman up to say Christmas and reevaluate then and sign up only if youve seen the necessary progress. If not, get your name down for an olympic or 70.3 :+1:

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I was thinking similar. This might be a “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” situation. Execution is almost as important as fitness in a full distance. You’ve had some experience with how an insufficient nutrition plan can derail a 70.3- the same applies to things like open water skills, pacing, equipment choice etc, and it all becomes more critical the longer you’re out there on the course.
This kind of stuff is best tested a race environment, and it has a huge impact on not only your time, but your overall experience and what you take away from that. Spending some time learning about yourself as an athlete and getting prepared and comfortable with some of the challenges you’ll face will pay huge dividends come race day. I also think there’s a lot to be said for picking a more ‘maneagable’ distance to start with, keeping it low-stress and simply enjoying the process, rather than putting a whole bunch of pressure on yourself to complete a huge race on less-than-ideal prep.

By all means set a goal for a full distance sometime in the future, but I would highly recommend scheduling some shorter races in the build up at least.

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Hey @JoeX

Im very keen in Ironman, but in your place Id ask myself - what’s the rush?

Really the drive here is that it’s in my hometown, and it’s the inaugural Ironman there

With commitment, time and patience Im sure youd get to the start and finish lines, but in your place I would train for Ironman up to say Christmas and reevaluate then and sign up only if youve seen the necessary progress. If not, get your name down for an olympic or 70.3

I really like this advice. I can follow the plan and then have a serious conversation with myself about if it’s feasible. I’d obviously check back in with you all as well :slight_smile:

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@toribath97

Agreed on the long distance environment. Longest races I’ve done was a century ride, a 20 mile running race, a few Olympics and sprints, and the DNF’ed half. I really do need more experience in events over 5 hours.

@bbarrera @RCC @Joelrivera @MikeMckinney @Northshorerider

Thank you all for your comments, I appreciate it. Helps widen my perspective and keep me grounded in reality.

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I think it’s doable. To steal a good word from the podcast, I think ‘durability’ is going to be your biggest challenge over the next five months.

Your current FTP, swim ability, and historic run ability are well in the realm of feasability. The only part that gives me pause is:
“but I haven’t been training consistently this year because of work and COVID (yay!).”

TOTALLY get it, and I don’t think anyone here would make you justify the last 7 months to anyone. Over the next 5-6 months (assuming you start in 1-2 weeks and have a 3wk taper) you have to do a lot of growth, and any injuries are REALLY going to stunt your progress. Ironman is crucially about surviving the training and showing up healthy on race day. One or two injuries that steal a month each (factoring in lost progress) are rough.

That said… you’re a healthy weight with a decent endurance history. I’m going to step around the ‘why the rush’ and just say that yes, I think you could likely complete the event in 7 months. How fast? That’s another chat altogether. But finish? I think so.

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Keep us all up to date here :slight_smile:

The Ironman Training 2020 Thread

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It probably is doable but what are your goals?
Do you like hiking and finishing just before the cutoff would be fine?
Or would you prefer to actually run the marathon?

When I did my IM last year, I noticed that the IM itself is not the hardest thing. The preparation with all the consistent and hard or long workouts is the main challenge (I did Tr Lv Full distance).
Being able to nail all the workouts and reach the start line healthy should be your main concern.

My advice would be: If your training level this year was already consistent with moderate weekly hours (8-10) you should be well prepared for a training plan.
If not, give your body more time. This is a beautiful sport. Don’t destroy it for yourself with a risky oneshot that potentialy ruins your body for a long time.

Just one last comment: You really need the volume in preparation. There are no shortcuts (like intensity) on this distance.

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I’ll do it, and keep up with the one in 2021!

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