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Ironman as first ever triathlon

Is there anyone out there who has completed an Ironman as their first ever triathlon?

If so how was the experience?

I have read alot of stuff about how you should have completed several sprints, oly's and half ironmans before you attempt the full distance. I understand that doing this will help but is it essential?


  • agent_tiagent_ti Posts: 306
    I certainly wouldn't recommend it. At the very least you want to do some triathlons (of any distance) just to get used to the sport. I did my first Ironman having only done sprints and one Olympic distance race due to a fractured collar bone making me miss my half. I don't think this had too big an impact on my race performace, though its difficult to tell with my fracture being so close to my Ironman so I was no where near where I should have been for my IM.

    I had done most of thr training for it and have a long history in endurance sports, so it depends what your background is. But why not race in the lead up to it? Thats most of the fun of the sport!
  • What's the reason for not wanting to do any in the build up?
    I didn't do any in my build up to a HIM, although I had done a Sprint Tri many years ago. One way around it is to stage your own tri as closely as you can to what you think will happen. Any variations in transition will only lose you a few seconds here and there which won't really matter a great deal. I did this in training and it helped a lot. Even if you want to be a bit relaxed in your 'transitions', e.g., nip indoors to get drinks, lock your bike up etc., it helps you get used to what's expected. I took a day off work to do it - it was great fun.
  • My first Tri was the first ever National Long Course Champs in 1983 when i was 19.
    Not much swimming was done for this, no wetsuits in them days in fact i didn't wear goggles coz i hadn't mastered correct front crawl technique, 300 foot deep reservoir with an out and back 1.25 mile swim to a little rowing boat.
    65 miles cycle in running shoes with about half a dozen training rides in the tank where i bonked with about 20 miles to go, only 1 water bottle and no food. Then To finish with a 15 mile run where my running background was not of great help as by this stage with no expierience in doing any previous triathlons or proper training it came down to just finishing, which i did about 5 minutes behind the current BTF President Sarah Springman.
    I don't know what your background is or how fit you are or age, but as long as you are capable of doing some 1 hour swims, plenty of cycling with 5-7 hour rides with perhaps an hours run straight after, and at least 3 20 mile runs on the road in the last 12 weeks you should get through it well within the cut off time.
    If your a member of a cycling club enter a 100 mile Time Trial 2 month's before the IM, enter a 20 mile road race, there are plenty about especially in February and March just as a training run where you can run the distance with other people.
    Each of the above is easy compared to doing a straight IM, you can make it easier by training correctly.
    You should also drink and eat during your long training rides and run, gels etc, train with the food attached to your bike or in your cycling jersey if that's what your going to use during the IM, and at least 2 water bottles with the fluid your going to use.
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    Even Conehead did some smaller events before he did IMUK.
  • MowfMowf Posts: 272
    If you think you can do it, crack on. But i would say that it is going to be hard, time consuming and expensive. If you cut your teeth for a season at Sprint/Olympic, you can test the water. Then get going with the full Ironman training when you have a better idea what to expect.

    If you think you have the discipline to take up a brand new sport and do the training required to take on its hardest challenge then power to you.

    I wouldn't. But then as Conehead rightly says, in no way does that mean you shouldnt.
  • I've done a season of Tri so far, moving from pool based Sprints, to OW Sprints, OD and HIM races. I've learnt a lot on the way, and realised some of my kit choices were wrong. I'm now looking to move up to IM next year.

    I don't think I would have been able to go straight to IM from nothing, but then it's now too late to find out. I have however enjoyed my path so far.
  • GHarvGHarv Posts: 456
    I've done 2 seasons of tri and aim to step up to Full IM next season.

    You certainly could do an IM as your first race but then you could also step out in front of a bus that is travelling at 40mph. Most people would recommend against this and this would be the conventional wisdom. However you could go against this and step in front of the said bus and see how you get on?

    I read that it took six weeks to recover fully from a marathon and not having done thought pah be back up and running in not time - took 6 weeks to recover fully. Add a 112m bike and 2.4 mile swim to that and be prepared for how that might feel.

    This year as prep i've done a HIM, Marathon, IM swim and a century ride and i know i'll be better placed to finish and hopefully finish well at IM. I've made so many mistakes on clothing, sun damage, nutrition, kit that i would never have know going straight into an IM all of which could have caused a DNF or permnanent damage - i still have the tri suit marks on my back from a HIM in July and i had some sun cream on.

    As the old story goes...

    Two bulls stood on a hill. They looked down on a valley where a dozen cows grazed.

    The young bull said, "Hey Pop, let's run down there and fuck one of those cows."

    "No, Son," said the old bull. "Let's WALK down there and fuck ALL those cows."

    Sometimes good things take time.

    But at the end of the day it's YOUR choice.

  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    I agree with Conehead there seems to be a lot of 'this is how it's done' in Tri training and to challenge that brings out the head shaking. A chap at our gym who did the IMUK from doing Sprints was glad he it that way as he treated as an entirely different type of race rather than just 'upping' the distance. Another chap had done a couple of 70.3s reckoned this just factored in the 'fear' and 'what have I let myself on for'
  • KenMacKenMac Posts: 14
    There are many folks who do Ironman as their first event for most of them though it seems like it's because Ironman is a challenge whose box needs to be ticked rather than another triathlon challenge. It's do able. In fact it's do able to go from couch potatoe to Ironman finish line in a year. At the 220 Marathon Triathlon (held over IM distance) in 1990, your's truly (as the announcer) and the finish crew hung around for an extra 90 min to let a student who had entered the race as a result of losing a bet in a pub a few weeks earlier, had done very little training and did the run in green flash, get to the finish line with someone there.
    I guess you could say I'm the opposite. I've been doing tri's since 1984 but haven't done and Ironman yet - it's just so bloody far. But counting down though I rashly said I'd do one before I got to 50 ....
  • Iteresting thread!

    I am new to triathlon. Started training with triathlon club month or so ago.

    Love it to bits and am planning to do a HIM early next year in April/May. For some reason I have a burning desire to do this distance even tho I have yet to do a full triathlon.

    I have done a couple of cyclosportifs this summer, 2 half marathons and an adventure race. My swimming isn't great but I can comfortably swim the half iron distance in a pool. I have a short duathlon in two weeks time.

    Unfortunately I had my bubble burst at tri training the other night when a chap who has done multiple long distance events told me I shouldn't be doing a half IM so soon. Surely this cant be right!!!

    I have 7 months in which to add to my base and train secifically for the event. What are peoples thoughts on this? I now it's my personal choice but all you experienced heads out there count for a lot. Would like to know what people think!
  • Xyzee_ukXyzee_uk Posts: 100
    If you want to do it then do it. What's the worst that can happen?

    Remember - it has been scientifically proved that bumblebees can't fly! Why don't that fall? They think they can and thats all that counts (or something similar!)
  • Go for it. I can you you it is possible, as I did it. Started Tri training in February this year, with the aim of doing London in August. Booked into doing a sprint in April to see what's what, and got the bug. Stepped up to open water races in June, did an OD in July, and then a HIM (The Little Woody) in August. So seven months after starting Tri I'd completed a HIM. My background was surfing and mtb'ing. Never had a road bike, and never been outside of the house for a run before Feb this year.

    So yes you can do it. You made not be the most competetive, but that's not always the reason why people enter them. I did it for the challenge of completing it.
  • Thanks guys! Confidence restored....desire back to full drive....now to pick the right one!
    Cheers for the support!
  • MowfMowf Posts: 272
    Go for it. I can you you it is possible, as I did it. Started Tri training in February this year, with the aim of doing London in August. Booked into doing a sprint in April to see what's what, and got the bug. Stepped up to open water races in June, did an OD in July, and then a HIM (The Little Woody) in August. So seven months after starting Tri I'd completed a HIM. My background was surfing and mtb'ing. Never had a road bike, and never been outside of the house for a run before Feb this year.
    That's not quite the same as doing a full Ironman as your 1st ever triathlon though...

    Re people saying 'too soon'. I think part of that is down to people wanting other people to earn their stipes, so to speak. Rather than an assertion that it is impossible. In a way, I see where they are coming from. Most triathletes look at ironman with a kind if awe; something to be aspired to. It must be pretty galling for them when someone with no experience/knowlege rocks up and goes straight for full distance 'just cos'.
  • GHarvGHarv Posts: 456
    A good thread.

    Must agree with Mowf a big difference between a HIM as a first race than a full IM so the thread is a little misleading.
  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Ironman as first ever triathlon.Absolutely no problem,a lot of people big up the IM distance as something that it is not,introduce a few scary stories because they have either messed up their own training or want to try and keep it as an exclusive club(e.g. that tosser who said you must do this and that first).The downside of it being the first is the amount of investment you need to do it,be it time and/or equipment/and pressure on the family.Hopefully it is not just a tick in the box,but something that you can reminiss with friends(if you have any left after all the social time that is now devoted to training).
    The danger of it will be similar to those that do the London Marathon as their first race,they get across the finish line with the words''NEVER AGAIN''.
    Triathlon has so much to offer with its various distances,I get better results from sprints that I do from IM distance,but give me an IM race anyday.
    As you cross the finish line,knackered,sweating,muscles cramping but with a smile as big as a Cheshire cats,don't say never again,but ''What next''.The fallout from the distance can be tremendous,both physically and mentally,don't stop at race day,plan for a couple of smaller events 4-6 weks after,then decide.
    IM racing is simple,have the mental capacity and fortitude to finish and make sure you have sufficient nutrition to last the course.
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