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Where to start!

Colin here
Done umpteen marathons and on the lookout for the next challenge. Decided Tri is my new favourite sport but don't know if I should start with sprints, olympic and attempt a season (next spring) or to train for one massive event like an IM.
Any thoughts?


  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166
    I guess some questions need answering:

    How many hours can you spare each week?
    Can you swim? Freestyle? And how far? Any competetive events?
    Can you bike? How far? Any competetive events?
    How fast are your marathons?

    I started with a sprint in 2008, a sprint and an oly in 2009, two sprints and two half-ims in 2010. IM in 2011.

    But I couldnt do freestyle, my running was poor and I only did my first 3 hour bike this year.
  • risris Posts: 1,002
    personally, i'd do a sprint or two before the end of this season, ideally pool ones so that you don't get bogged down in the open water/wetsuit stuff. see if you like them and if you do then you'll spend the whole winter/spring training, obsessed with next season.

    during the winter you can set your goals for the next year (more sprints, oly, him, im, etc) and buy all the stuff you are going to need.
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    You could go full on for IM but by doing some Sprints at least beforehand you will pick up/learn little tricks along the way that you really don't want to learn on the fly when on IM.
    It is not a case of Swim - Bike - Run, it is rather PrepSwimT1BikeT2RunRecover

    As Ris says pool ones are still available this year

    Don't worry about getting the bling gear, an MTB/hybrid bike is OK, borrow one, no need to buy at this stage
    You have the running shoes, elastic laces recommended
    http://startfitness.co.uk/product.asp?s ... rtRecord=1
    tri suit recommended don't have to cost the earth - yours for £30 http://startfitness.co.uk/product.asp?s ... P_ID=41230

    Then get a couple of OW events in before IM, build on your experience, develop your kit, bike, hydration/nutrition strategy etc.

  • sproutsprout Posts: 9
    I can only comment from my own experience, but I only started doing Tri this year also. For my first one I decided to give a sprint a go with an indoor swim to a) see if i liked it, b) prevent me spending loads on gear only to find I might not enjoy it, c) if you are reasonably fit you don't have to train too hard to do it in a decent time.

    Needless to say I did the first one and was hooked. I have done a couple more sprints since with indoor swims, and bought all the gear over this period. With these 3 sprint indoor swim tri's under my belt I decided to move to the next step which is a sprint with outdoor swim next month. For me its just been a gradual build up. It really depends on how adventurous you are, how much time you have to train, and how much money you have, but whatever you decide to do I am sure you will be hooked as well!
  • TRIumphantTRIumphant Posts: 850
    My Tri life started in April 2009. I'd entered London Tri in the August, so needed some experience.

    First Tri was a pool based sprint, just to try out transitions etc, and got hooked immediately then. I then did two more pool based Tri's over the next two weekends, so in 15 days I;d gone from a Tri virgin, to having completed three events. Next step was an open water event with a wetsuit, which again went fine, and then as everything was going well grew myself a pair, and stepped up to Olympic distance. Again, all went OK, and finished, then completed London Tri, and then thought 'what the hell' and entered a late season half ironman distance race. It was slow, but it was completed.

    Few more sprints to finish the season off, and then looked at bigger things. So IM UK 2010 was entered, and the training started. A few half marathons, 5km swimathon and several 100+ mile Sportives, and two 70.3's completed as training and IM was in sight.

    IM UK got underway, and again, not fast, but made it to the end in a time I thought was achievable, and thoroughly enjoyed my day.

    You could go straight to IM, but it's worth getting some experience in first. The biggest issue initially is the swim. At an IM it's open water, mass start, and therefore you need to be prepared for it. 1500 people equals 6000 arms and legs getting in your way, and at IM UK a few were pulled out early with panic attacks. IT doesn't scare me, but then I'd already done a few mass starts.
  • Thanks for all the top advice. Although new to tri I am used to training hard for the marathons I completed (pb 3.23) and I've taking part in a few endurance mtb events so I'm used to being on a bike but up until now I have always been nervous on road. I started swim lessons last Sept as I was embaressed every pool side holiday I went on. I've really taking to it and am doing 750m in the pool in 14.00sec ish and training once a week in open water in a wetsuit and managing approx 4000m in an hour. On Sept the 5th I'm swimming the Firth of Forth. After taking advice I think a sprint before the end of the year may be the way to go and set some achievable goals for next year. I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing but hey nothing ventured nothing gained. Thanks again for the advice guys.

  • HeweyHewey Posts: 8
    Sounds crazy? Well what does a sprint or OD or even a half distance race have to do with an Ironman? None of those will prepare you for the onslaught of IM
    I disagree. Lightening fast transitions may not be necessary in IM but the experience of transitioning under race conditions is definitely useful, as is the experience of 1000 pairs of thrashing arms turning the water to foam at the start of the swim.

    Personally I did 2 years of sprint/Olympic races before going long this year. The experience helped me on the day.
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    I agree with Conehead in that an IM is nothing like a Sprint and I certainly didn't make the normal progression from Sprint to Olympic to 70.3 to IM distance but jumped from Sprint to the Outlaw. I would suggest that it is the mental approach and discipline that can prove useful.

    Having cock ups in Transition or ironing out niggly little things during a couple of Sprints is the best place to encounter them rather than in the 'A' race. If something does blow up in the A race, like it did with me, the mental discipline can carry you through. As CH will no doubt remember the best place to make a mistake is in training not on ops.

    I also agree with Conehead about the kit thing, if you are going to see this through then you must make a commitment not only in training but also kit. The cheapest way is to get your A race kit now rather then go through several kit changes; I'm afraid I wasn't clear on that when I said develop your kit. The problem is knowing what that kit is going to be hence my suggestion of beg steal or borrow a bike first. I did forget to add ask lots of questions from others in clubs, events and on here.

    In summary, and as Conehead pointed out:
    You can swim 4000m OW in 1hr
    You can run 42K in 3:29
    You have experience in endurance cycling, MTB is great for handling skills

    What you need to do is to tie all those together so that you can do PrepSwimT1BikeT2RunRecover at IM distance.

    My advise still stands; get a couple of Sprints in, sort out your kit in terms of wetsuit - 100% happy?, bike gear - shoes, socks/calf guards?, tri suit, cycle shorts/top, bib shorts/top, skinsuit?, run gear - shoes, socks/cal guards?, shorts/top, tri suit, hat?

    Critically sort out your hydration/nutrition strategy, bugger that up and you will know about it.
  • Cheers again lads
    but If I'm going to be in this for the long haul and not just a one off climaxing in an IM then sprint to oly to mid to IM is the way to go for me. Thing is, I know I'm serious about this but my beer bellied mates are coming close to thinking this is just my latest fad and they would be right there with me but for the bad knee, lack of time to train, shin splints ya da ya da. As for all the gear, I'll pick bits and bobs up as I go. Don't want to be all shiny in my first race.
  • TRIumphantTRIumphant Posts: 850
    Colin Simpson wrote:
    Don't want to be all shiny in my first race.
    Best post ever?
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408

    does that put a new meaning to bike porn?
  • md6md6 Posts: 969
    Which raises the most immportant part of your decision making - what bike to get...Road or Tri, Black or Red (Both and um Both!)
  • 45CDO45CDO Posts: 44
    I'm with the sprint camp...

    By starting with sprints and graduating your way up - you might be able to do something else - maintain your enthusiasm. These forums are littered with people who have done an Ironman within a year etc. and are now flailing around wondering what to do.
  • I can only speak from my (very beginner minded!!) point of view.

    I have only done 4 tri's and have found myself enjoying and learning from each one, whether it be how to pace, transistion etc. So I would recommend building up slowly building your enthusiasm/aims/technique as you go.

    However, the IM is very alluring and the opportunity to complete that in a year does have its advantages as some previous posters have said. All in all though I suppose its personal preference and how you feel individually, if you feel like you can tackle the IM straight away then go for it.

    So in conclusion (and after reading that post back) I have been of no help whatsoever!!!! :roll:
  • HaHa
    What a tool, can't believe I said. Thats it nae mair posting when I'm struggling to keep my een open.
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