Home Training for a Triathlon

A realistic goal

i am contemplating doing my first triathlon. in order to keep motivated for the training over the winter, I really need to set a realistic goal. I look at the distances involved, and to me the half ironman seems like a challenging but achievable goal, given that there is 8 to 10 months to train.

I look at the Olympic triathlon distances, and it appears that the distances are not particularly daunting, so therefore the motivational goal would be to do the event in reasonable time. 

Therefore i I ask, what would a realistic time target be for a mid-40s, average build (6' 1", 205 lbs) to do an Olympic distance triathlon? Based upon my usual swimming, running and cycling speeds (separate activities - not sequentially) then a target of somewhere around 3hrs for the activities. Does this sound realistic? I also ask if doing a half ironman  in my first year of triathlon is realistic? 

Thanks for any input to guide me.




  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15


    Always good to start off on the shorter distances. Why not enter a Sprint distance at the beginning of the season and then double the distance for the middle of the season and maybe a middle distance for the end of the season.


    If you've not done a tri before it's good to try out the shorter distances to get yourself accustomed to moving from each discipline onto the next.


    I'm turning 40 next year, same height as you and have medium build.


    I did solely Sprints in my first full season with some Duathlons as well. Those are good and are held over the winter months and are good preparation for the triathlon Season. This year my 'A' Race, was an Ironman, didn’t do any events 2102 due to personal stuff but maintained the fitness by doing 24hr bike rides and endurance stuff. Did 3 Duathlons, a Sprint and a Standard as well this season

    Dependant on your times I think that 3hr's is more than achievable. (what are they btw)

    Good luck in your endeavours, Its a brilliant sport, I got the bug in 2010 and never looked back.


  • AJ,

    Thanks for the response. I think the shorter distance is probably the sensible goal. There seem to be plenty of standard distance triathlons in the near vicinity. I think the Ripon Black Sheep Triathlon - with the promise of a pint of that fine Real Ale at the finish line (I don't know if that is part of the deal - but in my dreams it is!) - is calling to me. I'm planning to do some duathlons and 10k runs - luckily there are some in the local area

    Regarding the time targets,I'm planning to find a route for each of the legs of the triathlon, which is the correct length, and then set a baseline time now, and then re-do the 'leg' every month - to measure my improvement (or not). It seems better to do it this way because there seems such a large variation in finishing times for previous triathlons (of same distance).

    How did you do in your IronMan? The distances involved in that competition sound like a true challenge. Hat's off to you for the commitment to training.



  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15

    I'm North yorkshire based so I know the Black Sheep Ripon Triathlon, but it's the one I havent done. My mate have done it


    Depending where you are, here's a loop that may be the right distance for you. This is part of the Clevaland Triathlon Club's Short Course (Standard Triathlon). One loop is about 24.5 mile or thereabouts.


    You could start of in Northallerton if that near to you. Ellerton Lake is where we do open water training.


    Swim :- Sprint 750m/Standard 1500m. 

    Bike :- Sprint 20km/Standard 40km. 

    Run :- Sprint 5km/Standard 10km. 


    Your running if possible do trail running as this builds up you muscles around you ankles aif you can do some hilly run this will also help.


    If you want any more info then give me a shout




  • AJ 

    Thanks for the information. Sorry for the delayed response, I've been out of the country for a while. 

    The loop is somewhat close to me - just a good warm-up/cooldown away from the house. I'm glad you told me about Ellerton Lakes - I was wondering where people train for outdoors swimming. I've just been training in swimming pools. 

    Thanks for the advice about the trail running. We live at the foot of the North York Moors, so finding some hilly routes is not going to be much of an issue. 

    Priority for this trip home is to get the road bike fettled - if not - out on the mountain bike - and get a date in the diary for at least one triathlon! Nothing like making the jump! 



  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15



    No problem. That loop is what our Club (cleveland Triathlon Club) hold a Standard distance event every year - Cleveland Short Course


    If you look at the maps you'll see that we utilise for a number of events and also for open water training when the water is warm enough.

    Don't have to be a member but the open water swim session is held on a Thursday night 6 pm. Always swim with someone, so if you turn up you can ask to accompany other swimmers.Purely H&S.

    if you've got the hills, utilise them, if not to strengthen your ankles but also it's great to get out in the hills. With the Off season, get out on the MTB. Don't do what I did last year and pile drive into the ground and rip ligaments in your shoulder (not recommended) when out on MTB.

    I'm commuting to work to maintain the fitness. Are there any Duathlons on over the winter near you, have you considered doing those. Will allow you to keep the running and biking fitness up also, will probably be Run/ MTB / Run. 


    Have a look around for some training duathlons, trail events, park runs.


    our Club have a number of events that will allow you to start at a shorter distance and increase if needs be. the Sprint Triathlon is a pool based swim (400m) with a normal Sprint cycle / run distance. This is run in Stokesley.

    The Standard Distance (Olympic) - (Short Course) is held at Ellerton and then there's the Steelman which is a Half IM distance or Middle distance. 


    There are plenty of events for you to enter, which are not local but within a reasonable travelling distance.

    Most if not all Yorkshire / North East events can be entered via TriHard - http://www.trihard.co.uk/

    Sorry if I'm teaching you to suck egg's, hopefully the above links are of use to yourself.

    Well my IM. what can I say I finished it, not as quick as I would have liked. 14h 22m 50s. I was worried about the Swim and that was the best bit steady away. 1h26m. The Bike, well it all went a bit pear shaped. bike computer stopped working so was going on feel, muscle burn and breathing etc. That made me a bit stressed which is what you don't need, so backed off and went steady away (7h 30m). The run. If you can do the bike, you will do the run (advice from a local legend in our club a deca-triathlete). So finished bike, with some relief and then out on the run, steady away. Knee's started to swell and was excruciating painful. (body and mind), take the pain, not going this far and quitting. Finished Marathon in 5h10m. I think it was down to bike set up and bike conditioning, so that my focus for next year.

    What have I planned. Hmm, Tel Aviv Marathon in February and run through Israel, with some Standard Distance triathlons. Aiming to do two half IM next year, so let the training commence.

    Enjoy your training and might see you at one of the events. I'm marshalling when not competing, so I'm still involved. When you get the bug, you get it bad!!!




  • No such thing as teaching granny to suck eggs......I know nothing about training/competing for triathlons, so any information is appreciated. 

    picked up the latest copy of 220 triathlon performance series today........on the way back from the swimming pool (swam like a brick........I definitely need help there)......noted the Wensleydale Triathlon.....ever done it? It looks like a challenge. 

    Anyway, looking to see which races fit into my work schedule for 2014. (I'm out of the country 50% of the time.)

    good news, yesterday I set a new record for my 6.5km run and today the scales say that I now weigh less than 200 lbs! I've recruited one of the wife's friends as my running coach. I need to recruit one of best mates as my cycling coach (he doesn't know yet). I need to find someone as a swimming coach.......one of my Labradors offered (she likes water), but cannot see doggy paddle going down well at an event. 

    5h 10min on a dodgy knee......chapeau! I think I need to work on the mental aspects, as I doubt I would have had the mental fortitude to cope with that. Best of luck in Tel Aviv.......why did you choose that one?

  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15



    Do you have a Triathlon Club close to yourself? When i started out I really didn't have the confidence on the swim. They will be able to show you the technique, which is key. Once you mastered that then you'll be surprised at how easily you can move through the water. Thats how I learned to swim 'sort of' efficiently .


    Came 2nd in my Club's 30-39 age group Annual Grand Prix this year, which is a good accomplishment.


    Honestly join a local club, having like minded souls that will bike and run with you makes all the difference.

    Wensleydale Triathlon? - Now that's more like a middle distance triathlon. Something to aim for.

    Try out some of the other events @ TriHard in preparation for this. Up to you but best to start out at the shorter distance to get yourself used to it.

    As long as you put the training in, regardless of where you are (When away in Holland with work or where ever I'm staying I plan routes around the hotel)

    Both Knee's were dodgy, but the right more than the left. M Dot the Ironman symbol (M is the body. . the Mond or head) you will need both especially when the distance start to increase.


    Why Tel Aviv, Well totally impulsive

    Tel Aviv marathon, well that was the most impulsive I've been in years. I was on BBC website and there was a feature on amazing bridge building ( I know, not everyone's cup of tea). There was a bridge in Yemen, as it was middle east they had other stuff on the ancient Persian city of Petra (Building carved into canyon wall). Modern day Jordan.

    Always wanted to travel to Middle East, so with my joined up thinking.... eherm. here goes

    Jordan, now that's next to Israel, one of oldest friends has settled down there. Wonder what events there are out there?. HobbyAthlete's is a cracking website, did a search, came back with Tel Aviv Marathon. OK, when's that? 28th February, OK what price are flights at that time, £150 return  from Manchester. £38 for event registration.Too good to be true

    Dropped my friend a FB message, what do you think?, you up for Marathon, his response, Go For It, he needs to get off his butt and start training. He's got spare room and said stay as long as you want. So going for 2 weeks, arrive 25th Feb, so when Marathon done have time to travel. he's suggested a 2 day trip to Petra and we might also go to Luxor in Egypt (Tutankhamen, valley of the Kings).

     In addition I'm looking to run part of the Israel National Trail (therefore I can visit Jerusalem, Acre, Sea of Galilee (might go for a swim), Nazareth etc. etc. on the other days. when not doing anything will spend time with my old friend catching up and have a cracking time, hopefully. That's the plan

     Temp for that time of year is 19 deg C, so warm but not too warm


    Shouldn't have asked, can you not tell I'm looking forward to it. Will use as training and fitness for the two middle distances I'm looking to do next year


    Later, give us a shout if you have any questions about anything, from elastic laces to tri bars, to running shoe selection etc etc

  • Sorry for delayed response, I've been 'getting stuck into' the training. Unfortunately, I made the complete amateur mistake of overdoing the running, and now my Achilles' tendon has swollen.luckily, a week of rest (from running) and it's feeling a lot better, that and plenty of stretching, massaging and Deep Heat. It has given the opportunity to spend more time on the bike and swimming, since I figure these being low impact activities, won't aggravate the injury. 

    My two local clubs are Darlington and Cleveland Triathlon. Darlington is closer to where we currently live, the Cleveland Club is based closer to where we will live in the near future. i'll join one of them in the new year. I'm looking to see which of the trihard events (and other triathlons) I can schedule in, currently it looks like the Stokesley Duathlon fits with my work schedule. 

    Best of luck with the Tel Aviv tri but it may make it difficult to travel to the Middle East afterwards, i don't know for sure, but I've heard it can be troublesome. Funny you should mention Yemen, it is a  beautiful country........the bits that I have seen (very limited for security purposes), and the bits that my friends have show me in their photos. 

    Anyone else having problems with this website? I'm having scrolling issues.

    I'm thinking the best way to set a goal is find a local route of the correct length for the run and bike, and test myself each month to measure improvement, the time on the day will then take care of itself. Is this what others do? as an engineer, I need a way of setting a goal, and monitoring progress.

  • Jamie220Jamie220 Posts: 168

    Hi JWP1969,

    Could you describe the scrolling issues you're having please?


    Jamie Beach, Digital Editor – 220 Triathlon

  • The scrolling problems are that on the iPad (doesn't happen on the phone or PC), the Option Bar at the top of the screen is vertically down the left hand side of the screen, and continues across the full width. In doing so, it covers approx. 75% of the screen. The posts in the forum then scroll underneath this option bar. I wish I could take a screenshot, that would make it much simpler to demonstrate. I guess I will just use the phone or PC.



    PS: I have reset the cookies and history in the iPad - it has made no difference.

  • Jamie220Jamie220 Posts: 168

    Thanks JP I'll look into getting this fixed as soon as possible

  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15



    Look forward to seeing you at Stokesley. I'm not doing that this year, marshalling instead.

    I'm an engineer also. So yes always good to set yourself goals.


    Yes, always good to get yourself out on various different length rides and then, not a time trial but, go out and do a similar session as you would but as close to race conditions as well. by that I mean similar distance, nutrition, (hydration (carbohydrate/electrolyte). What ever you do never try something new on race day (steadfast rule), always try out on your training sessions. 


    How did you overdo the running?. My mum, yes, my mum is a retired senior physiotherapist so I'm lucky in that respect of getting feedback on any little niggles I get . Never run two days in a row (or exercise excessively) the same muscles two days in a row even when strength training.


    Have you had a gait analysis, do you have the right shoes, this can be very important dependant on how you run.


    Good idea to move away from the run and concentrate on the bike and swimming, Thats the great thing with multi-sport you can always concentrate on the other disciplines and recover. When your back to fitness running I suggest that you do a few brick sessions. 220 Triathlon will be able to detail what this entails , coming straight of bike onto run. You need to do this as part of training to teach you body and legs to be able to do this transition, if you don't you will notice it


    Have some mates that i said that to and they did Duathlon and next day said , blimey see what you mean about doing brick sessions .


    Keep up the training and see you next season,





  • Jamie220Jamie220 Posts: 168

    Hi JP,

    I spoke to our web developers and apparently the scrolling issue can be fixed by clicking the 'hamburger' icon at the top-left of the screen, which will minimise the menu.

    Hope this helps

  • Jamie,

    Thanks for the hamburger tip. I tried it when I was having problems and it didn't work, but i will say that the scrolling issue is not currently occurring, so Happy Days! Thanks for the help.
  • AJ,

    Must be nice to have a mum who is a physio. My mum is a retired nurse, she once sent me to school with what was eventually diagnosed as a fractured patella, she thought I was trying to wag school......so I won't ask her for help. My wife is farmers daughter.......I fear she would have me shot if I mentioned the injury.

    How did I overdo it? Ego mostly. I agreed to go out for a 'long and slow' run with one of the wife's mates. Anyway we ended up doing 9.5 miles - when I had been doing 8 - 10 km. my ego prevented me stopping. Still, the injury, or rather the pain from the injury, has nearly gone. I will definitely do some of the dreaded brick sessions, thanks for the tip.

    I was out today for another steady 50km ride can feel the cycling legs coming back. Swimming is a different story......I was overtaken by a lady doing breast-stroke yesterday.......I was working on my technique is my excuse. Well, they do say you have to go slower before you can go faster.......I can do slow! Anyway, back to the pool tomorrow to practice not drowning.

    Thanks for the support and advice, and see you on the Stokesley Duathlon.
  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15



    LOL. My mum sent me to school with severe stomach pains. I thought it was appendicitis, turned out to be gas, she was right. But it was painful.


    Found this, recovery from run injury. your doing the right thing




    and another 




    So don't worry about somebody else overtaking, she's probably a very good breast stroke swimmer. Steady away at your own pace, concentrate on technique and don't think about the others.


    I've decided to give Stokesley a miss and Marshall, Done it the last 3 years and want to do other events. Marshalling will give me entry into another triathlon so going to use that for Helvellyn which is at the end of the year but one of the hardest and also middle distance (Half IM).




  • Thanks for the reference documents. I read both. The Achilles now appears to be sorted. I've just been out for an 11km run, and there wasn't pain to the same extent as the previously.......there was a little pain, but I just put it down to the remnants of the injury. I don't know if it was because I haven't run for 2 weeks, but as slow as I tried to go (I averaged 5.5 min/km) my heart rate was around 150 bpm mostly. I was aiming for an aerobic training session, which, I think is more in the range 130-140 bpm. I purposely slowed down (whilst still actually moving forward) - but still couldn't get the heart rate down. I'll see what happens next run.

    Hellvellyn triathlon? I remember almost getting blown off of Striding Edge first timed I ascended that mountain. I just looked at the website........so apart from the "skull-crushingly" cold water temperatures, the cycle over Kirkstone Pass, and having an unsupported run over England's third highest peak, it's just a walk in the park really.

  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15

    Glad your Achilles is sorted. Have you had a gait analysis carried out.


    This will benefit you going forward as it will ensure the running shoes you wear are suited to your gait and will also alleviate (hopefully) any injury's you may have had. Just a thought.

    Helvellyn triathlon, well, it's always been in the calendar but never done it, and after doing my IM I'm up for anything endurance wise. Was always a daunting one but I know I can do it, just have to put the hours in.

    Top end on average HR figures you should be max 148 if aiming for aerobic zone. Saying that, every one is different so may be an idea to determine where you should be.


    Here's a wee tool I found, only indicative mind.







  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113

    If you are looking to go into Tri for the long haul, then start at the shorter events, and allow the body to acclimatise, too much and too long would increase the chance of injury. Just because it is a short event, the challenge is in the time you can complete it, the longer distances are a demonstration in not burning out too quickly and on pace.

    the Black sheep tri at Ripon is a great event, one of the last great club run evenagain event you can take the family too, where they can do something whilst the triathlete goes and messes about for a few hours. If you are willing to travel a bit, the Ilkley tri in September is another great event, Tadcaster in May down the A1, is good.

    enjoy the journey, not just the destination, hope the injuries don't cause you too much aggravation, and if you are contemplating Wensleydale, enjoy and just practice the hill climb on the bike.

  • Merry Xmas one and all. Thanks for the comments and advice on the events. I think I am in for the Ripon Triathlon now, as the wife has "committed" me to the event at every Xmas party we have been to. This is probably the nudge that I need to get it sorted. I must admit, I do dream of that pint of Black Sheep at the finish line!

    I think the Wensleydale, and various other tougher triathlons will have to wait for another year. I think this year will be 'easier' triathlons - to see if I'm in for the  long haul. I must admit, I'm enjoying the variety provided by training for the three events.

    My swimming is still fairly rubbish. New Year's resolution is to join a tri club and get some swimming lessons. The running is going well.....no pain from the Achilles - consistently doing 13km runs without any real difficulty. Last time out I was do intermittent 'fast' and 'slow' (probably actually slow and slower would be better terminology) km intervals. It makes it a little more interesting. The cycling is going okay. I did a steady endurance ride of 80 km today - it felt easy enough (flattering route - dead flat - and very little wind) - however, I do notice that the sessions on the turbo trainer are having an effect, as I'm pushing a bigger gear (whilst still doing a reasonably high cadence).

    I watched a video on the Celtman triathlon........now that's a target for a few years time. I've always wanted to do the Torridon Munroes.....sounds like a good way of doing one of them!



  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


    Had checked the posts and thought it had ended, didn't realise it was onto page 2 till today, DOH.

    Good to hear your doing well on your runs and biking. Consistency is key, keep it up, it does pay off. Your swimming will improve if you join a club and they go through technique and then you continue to attend swim sessions something that i have neglected big time. Want to get check up for shoulder again before I throw myself into training.


    Good on your other half, dropping you in it doesn't half make you commit . As me and jonE have said, best to start out on the shorter distances and then build up over time. Your endurance will improve and you'll be able to go longer. Keep it up


    Ah the Celtman, that is something i would love to do, compete in that and you get entry to the Norseman, watch a video on that if you think Celtman is Brutal . Typical scot's (being one myself) we have to make it stupidly tough .


    You still doing Stokesley, if so see you there, I'll be the Marshall near transition with the Scottish accent (Glaswegian).






  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15

    Hello JWP


    Great to see you face to face at Stokesley Duathlon and Well done.!!!


    Give me a shout when your all moved when you want to get out for some training rides and runs




  • AJ,

    Good to meet you. Even though the introduction was a little bizarre..........are you Macleod007.....? Are you JWP1969?? Very Secret Service.

    Thanks for the previous advice. It was a great day at Stokesley. I'm already booked up for Stockton Duathlon. Just need to ensure I don't get a puncture this time, and need to sort out the leg cramps.

  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15



    The 007 came in handy didn't it. Good to hear your signed up for Stockton. I was looking to Marshall that as well probably with my son.


    My older sons may even compete themselves in the shorter races, as it'll be their first.

    Get yourselves some Gatorskins, they are puncture resistance, from most things. 


    leg cramps, when did you get them in the race, 2nd run




    Hydration is key. Drink loads before the race, the day before and also on the morning of the race. Maybe's try, SiS Electrolyte powders as these replace essential salts and electrolytes which can also have an adverse affect and cause cramps. you can get from Tesco the sachets to try it out. Doesn't have to be that brand, that's just what I use.


    Stockton you'll find is a very technical course (roundabouts/tight corners) and just when you getting up to speed you have to slow down, there are a couple of places where you can get some speed up.


    What distance you doing, Novice, Sprint, Standard??


    Keep up the training and see then


  • Well, I'm back from offshore for a couple of weeks. Whilst offshore, I was getting up at 0430 to get to the gym......before the days got complicated. Luckily my roommate was very understanding......and I'd like to think I was quiet and considerate.

    Now that I'm back on-shore for 'recuperation' - I've been doing the longer sessions that I couldn't do whilst offshore. It's not ideal. The general advice I read is to get into a routine.....however, with my work rota, this is just not possible - so predominantly short, intense sessions offshore and longer, less intense session onshore.

    I've signed up for the standard, (10k, 40k, 5k) at Stockton - since it should give me a good idea of how the Olympic Distance Triathlons will feel.  The Olympic Tris I reckon will take me about 20mins longer to complete.

    The cramps started to set on (ie I could feel that cramp wasn't too far away) from about 75% through the bike course, and lasted until about 50% through the second run. Certainly the second transition and the first 1-2km of the second run was the most intensive cramp - I felt like the Tinman from the Wizard of Oz! I thought I'd done alright with the hydration, as I had an electrolyte drink in the morning with my porridge. I did only have one 750 ml bottle on the bike - maybe I should carry (and consume) a second?

    I'm looking forward to the Stockton.....though is it fair to say that the bike course is more twisty and turny than a normal tri course? I looked at the routes for the Wetherby and Ripon Tris, and the Stokesley course seems to be more in keeping with them? I only ask, because I've been given the green light to purchase a new steed - and was wondering between the relative merits of a Sportive type road bike (less good at twisty and turny bits - but more comfortable, and therefore, in my eyes, potentially better for the run afterwards) or a race type bike (better at twisty, turny, potentially better aero position, but probably a harsher ride - with effects upon the subsequent run). Any thoughts? I'm not in the market for a TT bike - its too specialised.

    At the Stokesley, I ran into a guy I used to work with. In the same age group, his aggregate run time was 2 mins quicker than mine. His bike split was 9.5mins quicker - but I did puncture. I reckon with a bike of similar standard to his (ie not a 20 year old steel steed) - I think it'll be pretty close.  

  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15



    Up to you.   I use my bike for training and racing. But I have a race bike. Do a lot of commuting to work on MTB and training rides for distances on my main bike but it's for racing primarily. Depends how many races you end up doing a year.


    I have 2 bottles on my bike and also have one in my running shoes to force me to drink before heading out on second run.


    You should be taking hydration until about 15 20 minutes before the race. then you probably need to toilet, due to race nerves.


    For Olympic distance and shorter races, try to consume enough on the bike section to see you comfortably through the run.


    Hope this helps



  • Just to bring some closure to the threat, I did my first "Standard" (the run was about 8.5k rather than 10k) in 2:36 by first proper "Standard" triathlon I did in 02:40.

    initially I was aiming for 3 hours or less, so I achieved this. However, I was a little disappointed in the 5min/km run pace, and the 30 km/hr bike speed. But at least its a target for next year!

  • aanj74aanj74 Posts: 15

    Well Done JWP 1969 (still find it weird saying that I know your name now)

    The Cleveland Short course is a good one, a favourite amongst a lot in the Yorkshire area.

    Had to pull out of A Day in the Lakes due to illness, was gutted.


    Did Redcar last weekend, Sprint, that's a good race, you should try that one.

    You planning many more for next year.

    If so drop me a note, may see you there.


  • Plan for next year is The Outlaw. my weekly reminder tells me it is 36 weeks until the event - which seems awfully close - considering that I work a six week shift pattern, so it is only six full cycles away ( and they seem to come around exceptionally quickly).

    as with this years A race, I am thrashing around a suitable goal time. I cannot get my head around accepting a goal of 'completing'. I like to set Gold, Silver and Bronze medal time targets. I'm fancying sub12 hours as the gold medal performance.........hey, it has to be a challenge!

    What do you have planned for next year? Any marathons in far away exotic places?

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