Monday, April 03, 2006

Ironman training hype

On one of my email lists today, someone posted this quote from the description of the Ironman Championship in Hawaii:

"The average Ironman triathlete spends 18 to 24 hours each week training for this event. A typical week includes seven miles of swimming, 225 miles of biking and 48 miles of running. Many competitors also cross-train with weight training, stretching and yoga, among other activities."

Those kind of numbers are enough to make ordinary mortals tremble in fear. At least me, they do.

But are they real? I wondered. In fact, I was a bit skeptical.

Maybe they're true for people competing for the world championship at Kona. But a 2005 study of real-world athletes, 39 "Male, English-speaking non-elite, ironman-distance triathletes", suggests those numbers are quite a bit higher than the average Ironman triathlete.

From the charts in this study, I did a few calculations of average weekly training loads, and derived the following:

Weekly training load for average triathlete six months prior to Ironman event:
Total weekly hours: 11.6
Weekly swim time: 3.0 hours
Weekly swim distance: 4131 m
Weekly bike time: 5.5 hours
Weekly bike distance: 86 miles
Weekly run time: 2.7 hours
Weekly run distance: 20 miles

Weekly PEAK training load for average triathlete two months prior to Ironman event:
Total weekly hours: 13.7
Weekly swim time: 3.3 hours
Weekly swim distance: 4590 m
Weekly bike time: 7.1 hours
Weekly bike distance: 143 miles
Weekly run time: 3.9 hours
Weekly run distance: 27 miles

Whew. That makes me feel a lot better. The training levels of those six months out from their event are not a great deal higher than mine right now. Those are much manageable times and distances than many people talk about. Don't believe all the bragging and hype you hear out there about Ironman training times. I know there are people who do more than that, lots more, particularly the elite athletes. And certainly most coaches recommend more.

But it's NOT the average approach.


Bolder said...

slackers of the TRIworld unite!


tri-mama said...

I want to be just on the edge of "sick of training" without crossing over-that's about 13 hours a week.

Jonathan said...

Yeah, those numbers are for those that are training for something more than a finish.

I keep asking myself, "what's my ROI?" I have to look at the big picture. By spending another 8 hours training a week, yeah I may get that extra 5, 10, 15 minutes or whatever it might be on race day, but what do I lose in terms of time with my family and all the other things that make running through life fun. Since this isn't paying the mortgage, there is no sense in me training like it does.

LeahC said...

I think it's amazing that you are going to do an ironman! that's just incredible, go you!

Bike Chick said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting that. You make me feel so much better. There's hope for me yet!! :)

nancytoby said...

LOL! You're welcome! Let me put it in starker terms: there are lots of people out there who are somewhat LESS than truthful about their training mileage. *boggle*

nancytoby said...

Another thing I've learned: Just about everyone in the world training for an Ironman is insecure about their training distances. It's never enough. Never. For anyone.

Comm's said...

wow taht was a great find Nancy, those average numbers are great. Of course the one average that is impossible to judge is HEART. Heart makes up for a lot of missed training.