"you can't train for an ironman and work 40 hrs a week"

Just something I overheard at work tonight that got me thinking. I don't know the first thing about actually doing an ironman (seeing as how I can't swim or run at all at this point) but I can do some math on the distances and I know there is a 17 hr time cutoff. I also know a few people who have finished them in the past in the 12-14 hr range. Now even if you are under the assumption that it's much harder than just riding a bike for the same length of time (it's probably slightly harder than riding reasonably fast on the road, but easier than riding fast on singletrack) that still makes it a whole lot less of an accomplishment than a competitively run 24 hr race, the arrowhead 135, trans iowa or a whole host of other endurance cycling races... ones that people I know have completed and even won while holding real jobs!

From another angle- I was on my bike 18 hrs last week while working 40 hrs at the same job as the people having that conversation. I also found time to read a couple of books, play with the dogs, do some blogging, watch the superbowl, take 2 days off and celebrate my birthday. I'd imagine that even if 18 hrs was your toughest week in some sort of training cycle or period that could give a decent athlete enough fitness/training to be pretty competitive.

The point of all this-

I stupidly (but pretty quietly) opened my mouth and said "yes you can", only to be totally shot down... "you don't know, you don't have to swim first". At first I was angry at the slight, but then it shifted to just angry... Angry that 'our' culture has become one where anything athletic is impossible. Everything is possible!

What does it take to make others believe? How much would it improve their lives (and the world) if they just realized they can do whatever they fucking want to if they just do it?

Obviously, for them I'm not the answer (and I doubt I am for anyone else either), but I know the whole network of people doing real stuff has been that answer for me. From my brother to Richzilla to the DBDers. I lost sight of my own capabilities and potential there for a few years and I thank you all for helping me find it again.


  1. Drew,

    Here's my N=1. I've done trans-iowa, Arrowhead 135, and an Ironman(10hrs 57 min).

    Difficulty: Apples to oranges. Each one is difficult. The AH and TI are both longer time wise, but running a marathon after riding 112 and swimming 2.4 is no cake walk. FWIW, I was more sore after doing ironman. Trying to compare different events does not work. I have had people try to do it (without doing any of them) and I automatically dismiss them as not knowing what they are talking about.

    I did AH and TI on 7-10 hours a week, all on the bike. I did IM on 14 hours/week. (IM specific training was 3 months, TI and AH 2 months) My ironman break down was usually 9 hrs bike/4 hrs running/1 hr swimming a week.

    I work 40 hrs/week. When I did Ironman I had 2 kids, when I did TI and AH I had 4 kids.


  2. yeah- I didn't really mean to suggest it was an easy thing... or easily comparable. You're the man, as you prove my point 'in spades' when you add in the kids!

    There is also the important point when it comes to the trainig hrs thing- that it makes a huge difference how many years you've been doing it for. I'm sure if I keep training this hard for 4 or 5 years I could maintain fitness with a drastically decreased load (where you are now?), but I'm pretty sure I need more now while I'm 'fresh' to attain my current goals.

    thanks for the inspiring response

  3. I think it comes to priorities when it comes to training hours. Personally I know I spend too much time passively watching TV. I could possibly add 10-14 hours available to a week just by limiting the amount of time I spend in front of it.

  4. Keep in mind, I am not fast, nor am I competitive in nature. I'm not sure about the 24 hr mtb thing either. Perhaps Mr Tri could chime in on that. The thought of spending 100 miles on a mountain bike does not sound like fun.

    Gunnar speaks the truth. Right now I have no desire to know my heart rate, wattage, or even do intervals. Unless I need it for a navigational aid, I never use a cyclometer. My rides are guided on what time I need to be home. This type of training becomes a detriment in these races. I find that I am unable to keep up on the climbs (that could be the fault of Pizza, Hostess, and High Life). More importantly, I am unable to recover at the top of the hill. I'm sure an interval session a week would help out with my ability to recover after hard efforts, but doing intervals sucks.

    I know I am never going to win any of these events, I just like to ride my bike. If I just rode and never competed, I would be fine with that.

    As far as time management, look at someone like Brendan Moore. Full time job, wife, 2 kids, and he is a total stud on a bike.

  5. great post man!!!

    i'm also in the family way, 60 hours or more of work and just being damn tired.
    one thing my loving wife says when i'm getting cranky is, "go pedal your bike for awhile and then come back with the channel changed." God i love that women!!! ;)

    i've done my share of the 24 mountain bike races, adventure races, and did my 1st gravel hundo this past fall in Duluth.

    what works for me is just getting out and turning the pedals every day, day after day.

    i ride by myself 100% of the time, which i've come to love!!!

    i used to ride with some close friends, but everyone has moved on from riding. if i ever stopped riding i think i'd die and get divorced, not in that order!!! ;)

    riding my bike saves me an ass load of $$ in shrink bills, and lets me eat whatever i want, and drink a lot of Summit beer.

    i know i'm not fast, but it's never been about going fast for me!! i don't care about my H.R. don't care about all the training schedules. I DISLIKE RUNNING!!

    give me my GPSr, and my bike computer, and any trail and i'm one happy guy!

    in my prep for the HOTN gravel race i pedaled from Hibbing to Gheen via Side Lake twice (135 miles), on the weekends.
    other than that i kept to gravel roads and an old railroad grade that runs south of town. total miles was 70 miles from my back door and back. some days i would head out right after work, or go home and spend some time with the family, and head out after dinner, taking whatever time one has is a plus.

    i never worried about how fast i was going, or what the weather was like i just made sure i had tunes enough for around 6-10 hours. it worked out really good and after my 1st ever 100 miles race i felt really really good.

    i think it boils down to finding out what works best for you and your situation.
    it also helps to have an understanding partner!!

    my new goal is doing the AH 135 in 2011!!
    pumping the Pugs all summer long will help, and biking through the last two winters has dialed my clothes in, all that's left is the little extras i'll need for the ride.

    i'm looking forward to the next adventure, hey that starts at 4 a.m tomorrow!!! LOL


  6. Different. Mountain bike is different than gravel is different from Triathlons. Mountain biking your power output is constantly being interrupted and riding by yourself mostly. Gravel is a more constant power output and your often trying to match the pace of others. Triathlons you are using different muscles in each discipline and riding by yourself. I can't say what is hardest, because it varies and I just don't know. Depending on how any race shapes up can effect everything.

    That being said, I know about 6 or so Ironman finishers, all with full time jobs. From an observational view point in rank of toughness; mountain bikers, gravelers, and triathetes. Too many triathletes are more caught up in the gear than working their tails off and pushing through the worst. Now, there are exceptions to all these like my buddy Mark Carey who is a guy I would take on any XRC ride.

    I don't think that helps, but tell your coworkers they are tools.

  7. now that was the actual point- they are tools.

    who cares which thing is harder, if they wanted to do any of those things they COULD.

  8. Mr Tri: I'd put SS rigid mtb'ers up there. I don't know many mtn bike dudes, but reading mtbr some seem to be caught up in the gear thing as well.

    Actually, I'd put ultramarathon runners up there too.

  9. PS-Charly, I'm going to tell tri-guy that you ranked triathletes third.

    Tri-guy's motto is: "If you don't need an IV at the end, you did not go hard enough"

  10. what's funny about that is that the rigid SS guys are the ones who think they are the toughest... and the ones who race such bikes in the open class might be (if they actually are) but the rest of em are fools. They use their equipment as an excuse to suck which is something I try to do as much as I can to avoid. Of course until 10 days ago I had two rigid SS mountain bikes myself- but now one is geared. I'm going down to "shockstar's" house here in 3 weeks for 200 miles of gravels--- should probably watch what I saw about the rigid SS guys.

  11. IMHO, it's not necessarily how much time you train, but how efficiently you train. I know or am familiar enough with people in the local area that have finished an Ironman. Some of those people not only work for "the man" 40 hours a week, but some of them are business owners or sole-proprietors.

    See you on the 28th and in Decorah.

  12. Steve- I was thinking more like the 26th? or at least the 27th?

    Isn't the race on the 27th?