From Couch to Ironman® in a Year — The Ultimate ‘How-To’ Guide
We’ve all heard the phrase 0-60 to (amongst other things) describe the rate at which we dive head first into something.
For most people, though, “something” isn’t an Ironman Triathlon.
Not me though, for me, I decided to take a massive challenge head on and go from couch to Ironman in a year (ok, maybe not couch, but pretty close).
I’ve been an athlete my entire life, but until just before this journey began, my workouts consisted of ‘less-than-20-minute’ weight lifting sessions and the occasional jog around the park.
Needless to say, an Ironman was FAR from my comfort zone, but that’s what makes it enticing, right?
Before getting into all the nitty gritty, first things first…
In late 2017, right after returning from my honeymoon in Greece, I hit a huge rut in my motivation for physical fitness. At the time, I had nothing to train for other than life itself, and no goal, no aspiration to keep me going.
I also had experienced relative success in many of my previous physical endeavors, so the idea of doing something simple and easy wasn’t appealing either.
It wasn’t long then, until I stumbled upon a friend’s #TBT video on facebook showing him crossing the finish line at Ironman Canada.
And that, was that.
I became obsessed with the idea of tackling something that massive.
A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a marathon in 1 day became a “if I can do that, then I can do anything” mantra in my own mind.
At the time, I’d never run further than 5 miles, not swam laps in ~20 years (that’s being generous), and at the time, didn’t own a bike. That didn’t stop my research though.
I started doing what any rational person would do. I started Googling:
- How long does it take to train for an Ironman?
- Can you go from 0 to Ironman in a year?
- Show me Ironman races near me next year
As fate (rather, blind luck) would have it, my hometown Ironman, Ironman Maryland, existed 337 days away from this string of Google searches. Almost an entire year.
So naturally, I signed up.
Key considerations for training
My 0 to Ironman journey really began right after hitting ‘submit’ on that registration form.
I dove in head first and started to research and plan around three main categories:
- Time required to train (i.e. a training scheduling)
- The (necessary) equipment required
- How to hold myself accountable
Time required to train for an Ironman
Spoiler alert: It’s a lot.
You’re going to have to squeeze time out of places you didn’t know existed — but there are a few easy places to start:
- Win the morning:
Nobody bothers you before 6 am, so learn to like getting up early. Get a workout in before the rest of the family wakes up, before you check your email, and before something can derail your day.
- Work out at lunch:
Along the theme of ‘not interrupting family time’ see if you can get a workout in at lunch. It’ll be at least a few hours after a morning workout, and will free up your entire evening for dinner, family time, errands, and all of life’s other surprises.
- Get used to turning things down:
Sorry — this isn’t a fun recommendation — but you’re going to miss happy hours, late nights at the bar, playing Call of Duty into the early morning hours, and other things too. You’ve made a dedication to taking yourself from couch to Ironman, this will likely be one of your most common sacrifices.
- Set yourself up for success:
After work will be one of the hardest times to keep your schedule on track. Rough work days, extra meetings, unanticipated chores can all pop-up between work ending and you getting those running shoes on. Set yourself up for success by laying out your clothes, water, nutrition, etc. all nice and neat for when you get home so all potential obstacles are removed when you get there.
There’s a bit more to triathlon equipment than you might realize, but the good news is – a LOT of it is optional.
The things you’ll absolutely need for an Ironman are:
- Comfortable running shoes
- Comfortable running clothes
- Hydration pack/bottle
- A road bike (duh)
- A triathlon specific bike
- Clip in bike shoes
- Mounted hydration system
- Swim suit
- Swim cap (they give you one at the race anyway)
When you show up to your first Ironman, you’ll see all sorts of equipment. You’ll see 20 year old road bikes, and you’ll see $15,000 bikes that look like rocket ships (seriously).
The key takeaway from anything and everything you buy, required or optional, is that it should be comfortable.
You’re going to be spending a LOT of time in each of these things, so always default to comfort over all else.
How to save on equipment
Bikes are expensive(!), so don’t be shy to shop used.
Check craigslist, ebay, your friend’s house, and save money where you can.
Also consider buying last years model [thing].
For example, the Garmin 935 is basically just as good as the garmin 945 (1 year difference), except it costs about $150 less.
There are numerous buying guides with more comprehensive lists of equipment to check out as good starting points for beginners.
To start off — everyone’s nutrition needs are different.
The one thing that will be consistent with anyone looking to go from 0 to Ironman in a year is this:
You’re going to eat more during training for an Ironman than you do right now.
You can start to get a sense of just how much more by tracking your current food intake.
Apps like MyFitnessPal can help log your food/calories so you can see just how much you’re eating when you feel good during training, and work to replicate that — regardless of what type of diet you subscribe to.
Any good 1 year Ironman training plan is going to contain a lot of workouts.
It’s important to do as many of them over the course of a year as possible, while also knowing:
- Your bodies health is paramount to getting across that finish line
- Missing 1 or 2 (or even 10-15% of your) workouts over the course of a year isn’t going to make much of a difference in the final result
The key is to find a way to hold yourself accountable to actually completing the workouts on days where you might not want to, but don’t really have a legitimate reason to skip.
Sometimes, just ‘checking off’ a workout from a printed sheet is enough. Other times, texting a friend going through the training with you to let them know how your workout went works too.
However you choose to make it happen, find something (or better yet, someone) to help hold you accountable to chipping away at the workouts.
An Ironman training plan layout
Consider this: When training for a marathon, it’s recommended that a beginner take 4-6 months to safely train to cross the finish line.
Not only did I have to do that — but I had to train for a 2.4 mile swim, and a (more than) century bike ride too.
With roughly 11 months to train, I had to break down my weeks into a schedule where I could:
- Train each discipline (swim, bike, run, cross-training) at least twice a week
- Maintain some type of life
- Not lose my job
With those key factors in play, my Ironman training schedule started to look something like this:
- Tuesdays: AM swim, PM run
- Wednesdays: AM cross train, PM bike/run
- Thursdays: AM swim, PM bike
- Fridays: AM cross train, PM run
- Saturdays: Long bike
- Sundays: Long run
- Mondays: (thank god) rest day
This type of schedule required me to train twice a week during the week, and have my longer bike/run’s on the weekends.
Then became the task of limiting the training time to maintain a social life and make sure I got to work on time.
That’s where I elected to do all my training based on time (not distance).
For example, these became 1 hour runs, not 8 mile runs.
This allowed me to really schedule my training in a calendar, and promise friends/family that I would (actually) be done at a certain time. It also allowed me to take days where I didn’t feel great, easier, and push harder on those I felt good — without the guilt of missing the “programmed mileage.”
Don’t forget about strength training
Yes, Ironman is an endurance sport. It’s an awful lot of low heart rate movement for long periods of time.
That said, it’s imperative to remember that strength training, weight lifting, and/or cross training are key to:
- Avoiding injury
- Maintaining proper form further into race day
You can get as complex as working CrossFit into your training program a few days a week, or as simple as finding time to squat, deadlift and press.
The key is to help your body and muscles avoid going into atrophy (muscle loss due to lack of engagement) when primarily focusing on only 3 sports.
Chances are, there will be a significant difference between the type of training you’re accustomed to doing right now, and Ironman training.
For this reason it’s important to implement an acclimation phase into your training.
This phase is designed to get your body used to the schedule (multiple workouts per day, 3 sports, etc.) while keeping the training volume very light and easy.
You’re getting your body used to being active at those different points in time, so that when you start adding in more miles/time, scheduling isn’t a road block.
A common mistake made with any endurance training is the idea that you start with low miles, slowly increase, take 1 week off before the race, and then go.
There need to be waves of increasing intensity and rest, not to mention a disciplined rest day each week.
On rest days, you should be resting. Resting, eating, sleeping.
Not “going for a light recovery jog” or “taking a hike”.
Your body is going through a lot – give it at least one day a week to fully recover, as much as it can. It’ll make an immeasurable impact on your training.
A proper Ironman training plan will follow a pattern such as:
- 2-3 week volume increases
- 1 week volume decrease
Kinda like two steps forward, one step back, it gives your body ample time to absorb all the training you’re putting into it, without consistently overloading it with higher intensity.
It not only helps you absorb and make better use of your training, but it’s key in resisting injury too.
Some portion of the training plan is going to be called a ‘peak phase’.
This is the hardest part of training, where you get up to ~90% of your distance/volume so that on race day you know what to expect.
This is a crucial part of any plan, so if you’re looking for days to skip, the long workouts in this phase probably aren’t the ones to do it on.
The other crucial part, comes immediately after and it’s called…
Tapering is — in theory — super great.
It’s where you come out of the toughest phase (peak) and dramatically reduce your volume over a few weeks to allow your body to rest and recover for race day.
There are some unexpected side effects of tapering though:
- The desire to do more
You’ve just spend 11-12 months going after it. So taking a HUGE step backwards to reduce volume feels weird. It feels like you’re not doing enough and you need to do more to be race ready.
The opposite couldn’t be more true.
Resist the urge to over train here. This is all about ‘easy’ and ‘rest’ and ‘recovery’.
Let your body absorb the year of hard training you’ve put it through, because it’s just about game time.
There are 2 mega-important items to remember on race day:
- NEVER do anything that you haven’t already tried
This means don’t eat anything you’ve never had, don’t wear anything you’ve never worn. You’ve done a year’s worth of practice with the same clothes, nutrition, hydration, etc. The day that matters is not the day to try something new.
- Enjoy yourself
You’ve put a TON of work in at this point – this is your victory lap. The hard part is over, and on race day, you get to reap your reward.
How hopping off my couch and doing an Ironman changed my life
On September 29th, 2018, I became an Ironman.
It was the culmination of 337 days filled with hard work, severe doubt, devotions to a plan, deviations from the plan, exuberance and disbelief in what I was able to convince myself to do.
The experience crossing that finish line is one I’ll never forget, and one that I’ve encouraged thousands of others try since then.
It’s amazing what happens when you realize your mind and body are capable of doing something that they once thought impossible.
Invisible barriers seem to fall away, a new world of potential accomplishments and challenges open up and the world seems a little bit bigger than it did yesterday.
If you can go from 0 to Ironman, what else can you do? What other mountain can you climb?
The possibilities are endless.
The Ironman mantra: Anything is possible rings a little truer once you take that stroll down the red carpet – because if you believe it, put a plan behind it, and put the work in, well, anything just might be possible.
About the Author: Josh Muskin is a life long seeker of athletic challenges from collegiate sports, to CrossFit, to endurance events like marathons and Ironman triathlons. Always looking to conquer something new, and more importantly, help others conquer their fitness goals through content and coaching through joshmuskin.com.
That’s all great advice for a beginner, and you should be so proud of yourself for all your accomplishments!
This is an awesome and inspiring story, Susan. Thank you so much for sharing and good luck in November!
I can’t express how much this hit home. Thank you!
This was such a great story! (I also clicked the links to read more of the posts about your journey, which are all awesome as well!)
You really ARE a true inspiration. I recently gave up the idea of running a marathon and have been considering giving it a go in May, but haven’t signed up yet (though it is a ways away). I’ve done one half marathon after thinking I could never do it (having been quite a couch potato myself, 35 pounds ago!) so the idea of even a marathon is scary to me.
An ironman sounds so scary, but if I ever truly want to do one, I know it is possible after reading this story!
Keep it up!
Wow, what an accomplishment! I am a former smoker, who just completed my 27th marathon (the number includes 4 ultras). I, too, never dreamed that I would be performing at this level…or that I would even LIKE it.
I have completed three sprint distance triathlons and have had an Ironman in my “someday” list for a while (ever since I volunteered at an Ironman Wisconsin and caught the “bug”). I only have one year to go before I have both of my boys in school and will feel more comfortable with the time commitment!
You are such a great inspiration and your story – as mentioned by Jasmine – really hits close to home. Thank you!
THANK YOU! (and contratulations!)
I call myself a ‘power walker’, having done 13-min miles during eight 5-10Ks in 2009-10, but spent the last menopause-year fighting just get out of bed. I’m on the way back thanks to estrodiol and massive doses of vitamin D, and this time my goal is to RUN (which I’ve always called ‘thudding’).
I’ve always walked and hiked, but not much more, and signed up for that first 5k before I was near ready, so I heartily agree with that philosophy.
I’m switching to another window NOW to find a race nearby and, whether I run or walk it, I really appreciate this encouraging kick in the butt. Again, thank you!
(As an aside, everyone needs to get their vit D levels checked annually. It’ll change your life!)
I was wondering if you could tell me some of the symptoms that you’ve experienced with menopause and the vitamin D defficiency. I’m very motivated to run but am experiencing uncomfortableness that I attribute to being overweight but I’ve been heavier before without feeling like this.
Susan you have reaffirmed and Inspired me to go forward. I have decided to goal an iron-man for 2013. I have run 5k, 10k, a couple of half-marathons and a couple of full marathons. I received an email to register for a sprint triathlon close to my house, I registered and came in third in my age group. After reading this, I am ready to fully commit to the training to do it. Thanks for writing this article.
Thanks for posting such an inspirational story! I really needed to read this today.
Thank you for sharing this story. It is so inspiring! I don’t know you but I feel as though I do because I felt so proud of you as I read this! You are awesome!!
Love this! it home on so many levels… I signed up for my first 70.3 back in March. A few months into training, I decided why not just do “a little more training” and sign up for an iron distance? My friends who were training with me for the 70.3 think I am crazy. I think you just know when the time is right for you. My 70.3 is this weekend. My 140.6 is October 29th.
Fantastic, Karen! Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Wonderful write up! It IS on my ‘maybe’ list. And I do stop short of committing for many of the reasons you named: the strongest being I am not sure I can do it (mainly the swimming) and I’m not sure I want to invest the time needed for training. (oh yeah, and the fear of wrecking on my bike.) But rationally, I do know I can do it. And I know it would be HARD work and take a good dose of courage. Thank you for giving me a shot of belief and courage to move this idea out of the ‘wish list’ and onto the ‘do list.’
Love it! Anyone going 140.6 is an inspiration. When it’s a couch to iron story, all the better! I especially love #8. Thanks for including that.
What an amazing story! I can only hope to get to a half marathon some day, but the tendonitis in my ankle has prevented me from being much of a runner lately. You have a lot to be proud of!
Wow. That is so fantastic! You are amazing. You go, girl!
Thank you for this wonderful piece – I really enjoyed it!
Wow! What a great testament to setting a goal and working hard to achieve it!
Absolutely amazing. Inspiring. I have no excuses now!!! Thank you.
This was inspiring! I’m 14 months out from my first full Ironman, and going through the ups and downs you describe. Thanks for being brave enough to go ahead of the rest of us and leave a trail for us to follow!
True – all true. As another vegetarian who went from a super-sprint (300M/11m/2m) to an Ironman (StG 2010), but who took 24 months, I salute your ability and willpower.
It really is very simple. Its not easy – but it is simple, and its very possible for almost anybody.
You hit the nail on the head: It ain’t easy, but it is pretty simple. 🙂
Great job with running the race! #9 is the key, enjoy it!
What an inspiration you are!!! I’m not a couch potato but an Ironman is quite a feat – bravo!!!
I was chubby as a child, “big boned” as a teenager- I had athletic ability but no confidence.
I think it may have been the very first time Wide World of Sports televised this thing called Ironman. I was about 18-20 years old, popping “black beauties” in my effort to lose weight… mind you while watching this thing called Ironman, I was eating a back of potato chips. I thought to myself “if I could do that, I would be in really good shape”… “some day, I want to do that”.
Fast forward 20 years, and I had lost 120 pounds and met a guy who had done IM Hawaii (in the day’s when you could just sign up or there were only 10 people in the lottery!) and said to him, “I want to do an Ironman” to which he replied “well, why don’t you sign up”? I told him I didn’t know where to go to sign up!!! He said that people could no longer just sign up for Hawaii but I could apply though the lottery… okay, I entered the lottery just assuming I would get selected… this was in February 2000- My friend, Dave asked me “what if you don’t get in through the lottery???” to which I just shrugged my shoulders- he said, there’s always the iron distance Great Floridain you can sign up for, so I said “okay… I do that if I don’t get into Hawaii”.
I had never done a triathlon much less an Ironman… needless to say, I didn’t get in to Hawaii but I did sign up for Great Floridain- for the next 3 months I trained… my first triathlon EVER was a half Ironman which was NOT pretty… I thought… I better do a few more of these before Great Floridian which was 4 more months away! Much to my amazement, I finished Great Floridian. I went back to my hotel room and went to bed only to force myself to wake up every hour or so as I wasn’t sure if I really had finished or was asleep on the side of the road.
I have done 8 Ironman races, finished 7, finished 3rd & 4th in my A/G but never got a spot to Hawaii… I’ve entered the lottery every year but have never been selected. When it all started, all I ever wanted to do was this thing in Hawaii called Ironman… I’m now 53 years old. I am not nor have I ever had a wish to be know as a triathlete- all I’ve ever desired is to do 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running in Hawaii… just like John Collins. Yes, I am an Ironman… I’ve heard Mike Riley say it as I run down the finisher shoot several times but it’s not Hawaii, it’s not MY Ironman…
You will get selected! See you in Kona.
Spent the last 11 months getting in shape. Did alot of 5k to 13.1 mile races, 5-6 Olympic Tris, and a couple Half Irons. Last Monday, 3 minutes after they opened online registration, I was registered for Ironman Madison. Unless I do one sooner it will be my first Ironman. This article is so true.
You are so inspiring! Went and cheered on 3 members of our running grp at tri-rock san diego couple wks back. I was amazed at their success. Currently getting ready for 3rd H marathon, and my 1st Marathon in Jan. Good luck with Ironman coming up!
Very inspiring read! I would love to do the Full Ironman but I have two issues:
1) I have gone through two Arthroscopy operations (one on my left and the other on my right knee). I wear a very tight knee guards when I run and I’m worried that I will REALLY damage my knees if I do the Full IM. Nevertheless, I still take part in at least 2 Half IM each year and numerous ODs. My concern is pushing my self beyond my physical limits.
2) My family is not that ‘crash hot’ in my Triathlon pursuits. They don’t even come for races unless I prod them to. Its rather disappointing. But I’ve learnt to bear with it and instead focus on my sport.
As such, to a greater extent, I’m quite envious. Anyway, I wish you well and hopefully ONE day, I’ll be able to run down the finisher’s chute!
All the best for your race in Arizona.
“When the student is ready, the master will appear.” I am a three time cancer survivor, five time triathlete and aspiring Iron-woman. “Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” I am a believer in “meant to be” and the “law of attraction”. It was absolutely meant to be that I read this post, at this moment! Because, I am now…”m-dot” bound.
I’m sitting here right now, 5 months and 18 days from the day I decided to make my health a priority and started taking triathlon training seriously. I’ve since lost 40 lbs, and am in better shape at 42 than I was at 22. The couch potato thing hit home!
I am now five weeks out from my first 70.3, training has been amazing and the fitness is right on point…but as of this Sunday, I have a calf injury that has just SLAMMED me mentally…so I completely get the self-doubt thing now too…
I am also now approximately 14 months from my first IM (IronMan AZ 2012)…I know now that truly anyone can do an IronMan. Am I there yet? No, but I know for a fact based on my training and the transformation in my fitness and health, that this goal is achievable. Fortunately I have an amazing spouse with the same goals, that loves me, pushes me and supports me in equal amounts; and I have great friends and teammates like Susan Lacke that are always there to share a great story (and an occasional beer/cupcake/brunch). Thanks for another great article Susan.
Preparing for my first marathon and your words were inspriational and ‘fuel’ for my continued training.
Thank You, I needed that!
Thanks for this inspiring post. I’m a marathoner and sometimes triathlete preparing for my first half-Ironman distance race in 2 weeks. I am scared to death of not finishing, though in my head I know I can do the distances. Thanks for the psychological boost!
You have just inspired me to do it. I just completed my first sprint tri last month, am training for my first marathon next month, and have always had ironman dreams. I thought it would be years before I would get there, but after reading this, I am thinking why not now? Thank you!
Why not now? Go get ’em!
I loved this whole post! I’ll be doing my 2nd IM at AZ this November as well – good luck!!!
Yay! I’ll see you there! I may arrange for a meetup a day or two before the race…I’ll announce on the site if I do.
Thanks for the post! It was exactly what I needed. I’m preparing for my first sprint race this weekend and I’ve been having “oh ” moments all week so far. Thanks for #8 especially. I think I may have just committed myself to doing an Ironman!
Congratulations Susan. I have goosebumps after reading that. What an achievement – you’re an inspiration.
LOVE this post! I am in the infant stages of trainign for my first half-ironman in July 2012, and this is such an inspiration. Thank you for making all things seem so achievable (including vegan baking).
It was great to read your progress and preparation for your event. You should take great pleasure in the comments to your post. You have obviously inspired quite a few people.
Here’s my triathlon story (sorry for the rambling):
I am a runner. I own two bicycles, one for commuting (a road bike), and the other for touring (a cyclocross bike). However, I do not consider myself a cyclist. I can’t swim to save my life, but I sure can doggy paddle better than anyone else I’ve met.
A tri buddy of mine has been pushing me to do a tri for quite some time. Because I can’t swim well and OD triathlons have a swim leg almost as long as a half ironman, I figured it was to my advantage to just do a half IM. So I signed up for the Big Island 1/2 IM in June, 2010.
The problem was that the race was only 6 weeks after my spring marathon. I nailed the marathon, took a few weeks off to recover, and started training for the half IM. Because I had just had a great marathon, I couldn’t force myself to train seriously for the half IM. My longest swim was about 400 meters in a pool and I must have looked like I was having a seizure the entire time. I just couldn’t force myself to try to get it right. I figured if I couldn’t finish the race, at least I had a nice trip to Hawaii.
I did about 2 bike rides longer than 10 miles to prepare for the race. The beauty of being in good running shape, is that running translates very well to cycling. I knew this, so I continued to just put the miles in with my running shoes.
I decided to rent a bike in Hawaii to save money, and also because my 1970s Fuji road bike isn’t the bike I want to race 56 miles on. I didn’t want to do the bike jersey thing and I wanted to let everyone know that I was a runner, not a cyclist or swimmer. So I decided I would swim, bike, and run in my running clothes.
I had never swam in open ocean water before, so I was worried about the waves, but hopeful the saltwater would keep me afloat better. I made it to the first buoy before realizing I bit off way more than I could chew. From that point on, I doggy paddled until I was about 100 meters from the end. I gave it everything I had and made it out of the water with 9 seconds before the cutoff.
I transitioned to the bike and ended up doing quite well in that leg. However, had I not been so stubborn and gotten padded shorts, I’d have done much, much better. The running leg was the easiest for me. However, triathlon course designers do not know how to design running courses. I was in Hawaii, running on a damned golf course!!! Really? Is that the best you can do? I race (running) 20+ times a year and this has to be one of the worst running courses I’ve been on. Either way, I was actually quite shocked I was able to finish, given my lack of preparation.
If someone as lazy as me was able to complete a half ironman, I would agree: Anyone can do an ironman. One of these days, I’ll take swimming lessons and register for an IM and actually take the training seriously.
GREAT ARTICLE! I thought the list was super practical. After having a baby it can be tough to maintain the energy to aspire such an athletic feat.
Thanks for the post!
This exactly sums up how I feel about my new years resolution- I achieved it today actually, 125 pounds by summer!! SO fulfilling 😀
Achieving your goal, no matter what it is, always brings about a great feeling. Congratulations! 🙂
Such an inspiring story! I think we often fool ourselves into thinking we can’t do something, but the first step is always convincing yourself otherwise. Congrats Susan!
I’ll be at water station 9 on the run, can’t wait to pass you a cup!
Very Cool. And true. Most people don’t think in increments and just can’t imagine themselves doing lots of stuff, so they never start. Always inspiring to hear otherwise!
Thanks for the great article! Your story and approach are inspirational. I find that a lot of my triathlete friends are incredulous about Vegetarianism. Slowly but surely I’m introducing them to lentil burgers, non-animal protein sources, and hoping they will make more healthy choices in the future.
From a fellow vegetarian Ironman finisher – rock on!!
Superb post Susan!! I started running a few years back, then took a break, started again, etc etc. I am really keen to start competing in ultra races in the future, perhaps I should set myself a 50 miler for next year, something to work towards?
I really love the way you have written this post, lots of useful snippets, and some great motivational stuff too. You are a real inspiration.
I feel very lucky to have found your post right before I do a 70.3 this weekend.
Isn’t it funny how a calendar gets so much shorter when you have a race posted to it?
364 days seems to just fly!
Can’t wait to read more of your posts. 🙂
Loved this post. I especially love enjoy it. For most of us these are hobbies and hobbies should be enjoyed.
Whatta story.. now this is the kind of post that changes lives! I’m just starting out my journey and signing up for a 5K on Oct 29th. But I gotta quit my smokes before that.
I’m glad I came across this article.
Awesome story. Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait for mine next year ! Keep writing and I will keep reading.
Susan, Thank you for this post. I’m here in Panama City waiting for my husband to race his third IM while I volunteer. I’ve been planning to sign up for next year but am having waves of second thoughts when I see all of the incredible athletes here to race. It is intimidating! I’ve done 4 marathons, several shorter triathlons and one half iron,and I felt like I was ready until I get here. Your article here has reminded me that it’s about me and not about anyone else. I need to do this my way and not compare myself to anyone else. I’ve been planning for months to sign up and I need to do it. It’s just something I need to do for myself. THANK YOU for sharing your experience. Hope to read more about you and your adventures.
Amazing post — I’m still one of those people with IM on my “someday” list but you’ve definitely given me inspiration to edge my way into action.
Thank you! Thank you!! I have now done 3 half marathons. I just registered for my first full marathon in Dec 2012. I am going to do a Half IM in 2013….after that I might do the full IM in 2014…right before I turn 50 :).
Thanks for sharing your journey!!
First off, Congrats on finishing an Ironman-this is quite a feat that few have accomplished. Thanks for the insight and I would agree that there are times when your body says enough is enough and you have to use your mind to control your body and push through.
I am getting ready for my first triathlon in 11 days and I have made plenty of mistakes training for this event, the learning curve is vast but the training is extremely fun as I have not been pushed this hard since high school sports.
Thanks for the article, really appreciated,I was the same as you, new year resolution 2010, got up in the morning early as usual, decided that I was going to run a full marathon, Ottawa , may 30 2010, I had basically never ran more then 2 km, 2 years before I used to weigh 315lbs I had dieted but I was still at 250, every one was saying that I clould not do it (including my children) well may 30, 2010 finished my first race ever and it was a marathon 42.2 k in 5:28h not the beast time, but I finished it,
What next I said, how about the Goofey challenged at Disney, how about a haft on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday, done that January 2011,
Then I fell off the wagon compleatly, like nothing zap, new job, new location, extreme stress, this lead to a heart atack July 12, 2012.
While on my hospital bed , I asked myself , why did I quit this training,? What do I have to do to get my health back, the answer was simple, get back to training, I wanted to do an IRON MAN FOR MY FIFTY FIFTH BIRTHDAY THIS IS NEXT YEAR!
I M now at home Asking my self was the job worth my health? The answer was defiantly not so i started to,look forniron mann trainingn it then,I stumbled on you article, and again I make the decision to do something about it,
I am going to register for some ironman somewhere for late 2013, after doing research on it, I even told my cardiologist about it , now I am telling you and others that anyone can do what they put their minds to!
Thank you for your inspirational article
[email protected] Mousseau.ca
I found your site when I searched for exactly couch potato to Ironman.
It is August 13, I am thinking about registering for the Wisconsin 2013 Ironman. I have swimming experience in my youth (I am 44) and I ran a full marathon 10 years ago. Otherwise, I am starting from an exercising dead stop.
If I set my mind to it, do you think a person could train and complete a full Ironman in 12 months?
Awesome testimonial! I just watched my first live Ironman event. You can feel the amazing human spirit. After completing 4 marathons and cheering my brother on in a half ironman, I am almost ready to commit. Thank you for the inspiration! Cheers!
Fantastic article, well written and truly inspirational, well done! I finished my 1st marathon 2 days ago, now I’m looking for a new challenge, I need something to aim for. I have done 80+ miles a number of times on the bike previously however my swimming is very very poor, I need to work at that….In 10 months time (Aug 2013) I’ll be an Ironman
Hi – great post
I’m early in my own journey to Ironman glory and so much has changed already. I’ve discovered that I have a weak left knee so doing weights to correct it. By having a long term goal (my event is 18 months away) it takes the pressure off, and puts the enjoyment back in.
It’s also led me to working towards a plant-based diet, something I hadn’t even considered.
Above all, it’s inspired my two young kids into more exercise. They are 8 and 6 and are more active now than they have ever been.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have been an “Iron Mom” for almost 2 years. I was at Iron Man Lake Placid last summer & could not help but say “I want to do this”!!! At the time I had only done 5K’s, was running in my first 10K the following week, & was also in the midst of training for my 1st Half Marathon later in the Fall. I have since completed 3 Half Marathons & am now training for my 1st Full, the Marine Corps Marathon this Fall. My daughter thinks I should make this a 30 month plan not 18 months. She’s competing at IMAZ in November. I plan to go & once again be that “Iron Mom” constantly on the move so I can cheer her on at several points along the swim, bike & run course doing this either before or after my volunteer assignment. I will scream like crazy when she crosses that finish line. But I will be up early at the crack of dawn to register for 2014 IMAZ!!! Again, thanks for the words of inspiration!!!
Awesome article and VERY motivating, well done 🙂
I’m definitely a college couch potato. I thought with having an 18-hour school schedule AND a part time job, my schedule would be too packed to add in proper fitness. Your story is a true inspiration and it let me know that it is definitely possible for me to get fit. I’m glad you added in starting off slowly. I, being a very impatient person, tend to do things way to quickly and burn out just as quickly. Thank you. Just thank you.
Congratulations to you, very inspirational!! I am considering completing an IRONMAN next year which gives me 9 months to train. I have done a few 5k and 10k races, as well as a half marathon, full marathon, pier to pier swim and a half ironman, however these were over the space of 3 years. I really want to give ironman a go as my partner is going to train for it and it would be a great achievement to finish together! Im just so worried about my physical ability. However your story has made me feel better about it all.Would you say 9 months is enough training and doable for someone who has only done one triathalon before (half ironman) ?!
Thanks for sharing 🙂
I am literally holding back tears here. You are an incredible human being! I signed up for a marathon because I know that I won’t get peace before I finish Ironman. I have to do it. And you have been a great inspiration!
Very great words and thank you for sharing your experience.
this is brilliant article, I am on the same type of journey. I am trying it via a group Tri-Camp, they basically do Triathlon boots camps and they people from zero fitness but are hungry enough to make the effort to Tri-Elites. my programme is 1yr of as many 10kms, next year of half marathons and Tri-sprints; then moving in month24 to decent race standards of True Tri and Iron mans. Tri Camp organises Camps everywhere too. but well done for your success and a really motivating article. see you at the top!
GOD BLESS YOU.
WHAT A WONDERFULL AND ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE EXPERIENCE TO SHARE .
THANKS A MILLION FOR SHARING,
I REALLY SALUTE YOU FOR THIS.
I loved your post! Ironman is more mental than physical.
When I started, people told me that I was crazy! That there was no way that I could accomplish that goal with less than 12 months to prepare. And that is exactly what I needed to hear! Accomplishing things that others can not or will not do has pushed me to prove them wrong.
The only race I did before finishing Ironman Forida is a local sprint race in Greenville SC. With three kids who play on 3 different baseball teams, 3 different basketball teams, 2 cross country teams and working a full time job (with a wife that travels for work), balancing your life becomes a must. ITS NOT IMPOSSIBLE!
I have since completed my 2nd Ironman (Ironman Chatanooga) and have begun training for my third (Ironman North Carolina). Still to this date, I have only completed 3 triathlon races (1 sprint and 2 Ironmans).
Your post and ways to get there are almost identical to what I went through over those 1st 12 months. I trully believe that “ANYONE CAN DO AN IRONMAN”
So, I am overweight (need to loose three stone). Tonight, I am verbally committing that I am going to go IRONMAN WALES in 2018! Your story has inspired me with lots of similarities in our lives. Here’s to the start of a great journey!
I have read read this and other articles you have written so many times. It never gets old. I went from couch to a sprint this year. I rode my mountain bike.lol
Last year, I couldn’t walk a mile last and cried. So I started to swim. Now, I’m doing my 2nd sprint with open water next week. I am using a friends bike. Not sure I can afford one on my own but that’s my next goal….get a decent bike.
I volunteered at Texas ironman last week and have got the itch bad. Not sure I can afford it all, so I will take steps. Olympic is next….I’m sure I will keep reading reading your articles. Like every ironman/woman I know, you are nothing less than extraordinary, humble and inspiring. That’s what I want to be too♡
Just watched my brother and friends finish yet another ironman as I have been their Sherpa and support team through out their entire races- over the last Decade. This past one I left saying just that, Anyone can compete and Ironman, after eating every demographic imaginable cross the finish line and say to yourself, if they can do that so can I. So coming home I started looking at training plans and came across your post. Every inspirational and made me day even more, I can do that. I am looking to do one before November 2018.
Congratulations to all who commit to the journey of completing a Ironman
I would love to know if anyone had a particular training/ diet plan that worked best for them as a “newbies”
I just came across your website and am finishing up my senior year at UW- Steven’s Point. I was a stand out rugby player here but fractured my cheek bone for the 2nd time so bad I needed I metal plate I decided to retire (Nov 2018). I have been in such a down place since not finding my new athletic calling anymore. I am really inspired to try and take on the 2020 iron man. I had an uncle who did the WI iron man when I was much you get and that inspired to me to do kid triathlons a bunch when I was a kid. I just wanted to thank you for helping me rebuild my fire and admiration to achieve something.
I loved your post so much I became a fan of you, promise that you will continue to share such good and knowledgeable posts even further, we will be waiting for your post thank you
Wow, I’m reading this in 2020, and I’m really inspired!
I’m glad I found your post on the exact thing I was looking for.
Right now it’s COVID, COVID, COVID. I’m wanting to do exactly as your article says: couch to Ironman in a year. I’m 70, retired, condo dwelling (no lawns, house painting, fence/roof fixing) otherwise the facts are the same. That is I’m athletic, exercise regularly, eat properly and have great supportive relationship with my wife. The downside is my calves keep me from plyo-type exercises and running. They knot and then I’m down until they recover in a month. But I’m currently doing a couch-to-5k & couch-to-10k to see if my calves are trainable for running. I’ve never tried a proper training-to-run regimen. I just would treadmill run. Monday morning I’m starting the schedule you’ve posted.
I’m wanting to do this. Monday I’ll begin.
Currently I run 4 days a week. Each run is about 11 KMS. 2-3 months when I a prepare for half marathon then the schedule is 3 Days 11 KMS Each & on SUNDAY 25 KMS. I have never done cycling. Even I have to learn swimming.
Moreover my AGE is 48 years. But my dream is to complete Ironman. I will start preparing now & would line to attempt after 1.5-2 years
can you please suggest some strengthening exercises.
I’m interested in a training/nutrician plan.
Cheers doing ironman finland in August need to get going!!
What is the workout and meal plan to prepare
wow…. should I do it?….
I only know how to swim frog-style…
never rode on a road bike all my life (46 years)
ran 6k very slow pace, about 3 times a week….
please give me some advice all, thanks.
“I’ve been an athlete my entire life”
“My workouts consist of ‘less-than-20-minute’ weight lifting sessions and the occasional jog around the park”
You cant claim both.
I’ve deferred my Ironman, first due to covid then due to no practice , for three years now. I just got my deferral to August 2023 , Ironman Kazakhstan. While I’ve done the half, the prospect of full scares me. Especially since my riding speed is slow , I see myself with DNF getting pulled off the ride course! All the waste of money travelling blah blah.
I now have 14 months. So I searched and found your article. Needed that, thanks.
“The experience crossing that finish line is one I’ll never forget”
This is the most beautiful line of all, it got tears in my eyes as I got flashbacks from my own attempt.
I personally have done one 70.3 back in 2019 and slowly convincing myself to attempt my first ever 140.6 in one year. Reading this article is another step toward that journey.
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