So it begins…

So it begins…

With 22 weeks to go until Ironman Barcelona, I’ve decided (after a little bit of prompting) to blog about the training I am doing to prepare for the race.

For those who don’t know an Ironman Triathlon consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 42.2km run. It’s undertaken by people who are slightly mental.

This year is going to be a balancing act if I am to toe the line in Barcelona. I’m completing a degree course which is due to finish at the end of September and also trying to build a kit car, plus I need to do the required training for Ironman and hold down a full-time job.

My current fitness is currently more or less zero. I’m as heavy as I’ve been for a while (115kg) and I’ve done very little swim, bike, run in the last 6 months since I finished the Dublin marathon.

This will be my 5th Ironman. I finished the first 2 and have then had 2 DNF’s. Both times I’ve not finished I’ve been sick on the bike and both times it has been in Barcelona. Hopefully 3rd time lucky.

Previous performances:

Race: Ironman Mallorca (2015) Ironman Frankfurt (2016) Ironman Barcelona (2016) Ironman Barcelona (2016
Swim 1:09:54 01:22:58 1:11:25 1:12:49
T1 0:05:46 0:11:15 0:09:45 0:09:33
Bike 6:16:43 05:33:56 Withdrew@90km 5:18:48
T2 0:08:29 0:07:22 0:10:45
Run 6:27:19 6:51:12 Withdrew@12km
Total 14:08:11 14:06:43 DNF DNF

Nothing fast happening there!

Plan wise – I am self-coached. I’ve coached people over shorter distances and at this stage know my own body well enough to know how much work I can get through and when to back off.

I’m suspecting that one of the problems in the last few races is my lack of swimming. I didn’t swim at all before Frankfurt and had a disaster in the lake. I swam very little before either attempt at Barcelona and while I can still churn out the distance easy enough, in a fairly respectable time, I’m probably tiring myself out off more than if I was swim fit and swimming well within myself.
In all the previous Ironman events I didn’t do enough running. I missed too many long runs and it shows with the poor times and the run quickly turning into a long walk.

With that in mind, swimming and running will be a focus this year. I’ll still try and get the bike km’s in as usual. I’ll also be bike racing again this year so should hopefully get up and around the same fitness levels as previous.

Swimming wise I have a good idea of the sessions needed and how to put everything together. Same with the run – for both, it’s about volume more than speed in my case, although there will be speed sessions in both and I would hope that as the volume increases speed does too. As well as getting me to the required fitness levels the volume will also help me to lose weight.

On the bike, I’m looking at using Sufferfest sessions this year rather than the usual TrainerRoad. No real reason other than to check out something different and see how it works in comparison.

There will be a lot of regular testing too to see if I’m improving/stagnating. I’m a big believer that to know if you are improving, you need to know where you are/have been. Usually, every 4 weeks testing will be pencilled in for me to do.

Current fitness is (like I said, low!)


Discipline Test Current Target
Swim 500m Test 9:12 7:00
Bike FTP (20 min) – 4DP 270w 365w
Run 5km Race 25:46 22:30

One difference from the last few years is I’ll be going back to the gym during training phase– I’ve missed going the last few months and I find It helps me lose weight. I know that it means I’ll have a little more muscle to carry around the Ironman which will slow me down but I’m not trying to qualify for the World Championships or even have a fast time as a target.

So that’s the background to this year’s attempt. I’m in base phase at the moment. This is the phase of training where, as it sounds, I am trying to build a base of fitness before the training starts to ramp up with 16 weeks to go – I’m not going to pretend these will be the most riveting posts but hopefully they’ll give you an idea as to what I do to try and prepare for Ironman. I’ll try and post up each week with what I did the previous 7 days and a bit of an explanation as to why I’m doing it and how I’m improving (hopefully!).



Doing your first triathlon is a daunting prospect and what we have noticed from our collective experience and observations is that:

  • A lot of triathletes did their first race by themselves and it was only after that they decided to join a club. It was thought too daunting to go and train with “proper” triathletes.
  • Many had no idea how to structure training or even what training they needed to do to get through their first triathlon.
  • A few people kept putting off their first Triathlon thinking they weren’t ready to do one – in some cases for many months.
  • The biggest fear for most new triathletes is the swim.
  • Nearly every triathlete we talked to experienced something in their first triathlon that they didn’t expect.

So we decided that we needed to create a group “New2Tri” to make the first triathlon less daunting. A group that:

  • Experience their first triathlon together.
  • Learn from each other’s experiences.
  • Act as support for one other.
  • Have a training plan they can follow and are provided with training sessions that they can attend – we provide weekly sessions, emailed directly to you.
  • A way of making sure that you know you are ready to do your first triathlon – so we organise a training day where you get to complete all the parts of the training day.
  • A triathlon with the easiest swim possible – pool based with a shallow end which means no need for a wetsuit and no fear of swimming in open water.
  • Someone there to answer all your questions and make sure there were no unexpected surprises awaiting you – a mentor.

As well as the New2Tri coaches, the mentor will be someone who will be there to help you. Someone you can ask questions to that you might be embarrassed to ask anyone else, who will be at some of the training sessions you attend and will be checking in with you regularly to ask how training is going. They will also be around on race day to help with anything you might be unsure of.

The coaches have organised New2Tri groups before – on 4-5 occasions – so they have lots of experience from previous years which will help and assist you complete your first triathlon.

The race we are training for is TriLaois which takes place in Portlaoise on the 7th April 2018.

It’s a “sprint” triathlon which is the shortest of the standard triathlon distances (the others being Olympic, Half and Full).

A standard length Sprint triathlon generally consists of a 750m swim, a 20km cycle and a 5km run and the TriLaois event has all the distances at the standard length.

Swim: For this triathlon the 750m swim will take place in a pool – this is ideal as it means you don’t need to buy a wetsuit. It also has a shallow end to the pool so you can put your feet down if necessary.

Cycle: The 20km cycle is on undulating country roads that are well marshalled.

Run: The 5km run last year was an out and back from Portlaoise into the countryside.

If you have any questions or queries feel free to contact us at or complete the contact us form on this website.

My first triathlon…

It was about this time 7 years ago that I made a resolution to do a triathlon. A few friends had decided to do one in 2011 and I decided I’d try to do one too.

I knew someone in my early 20’s who had started doing triathlons but the thoughts of putting three sports together back to back had at the time seemed way beyond my capabilities. Fast forward 15 years and it still seemed as though it was. I was sure that triathlons were only for super fit marathon runners, people who raced sharks for fun, and super skinny cyclists who cycled up the equivalent of Everest every weekend for the craic.

The triathlon I had signed up for was in May so that gave me a few months to get fit enough and work out what I needed to do. It was a sprint triathlon so a 750m swim, 20km cycle and a 5km run.

My training consisted of reading triathlons magazines. I was getting up to running the distance using a couch to 5km plan.  I went swimming twice a week just doing lengths and trying to rest less in between and I bought a bike and eventually managed to get up to cycling 20km.

On the day of the triathlon it was the first time I had ever managed to put the three sports all together. The swim was an experience and a shock as I’d never had before as 8 people in a lane raced against each other. The bike was tough as people on bikes with shopping baskets on them sailed past me and the run at the end was the toughest thing I’d ever done as I felt i was stuck in mud as the faster people galloped past me. But I finished the race and it was the best feeling ever and I have been racing ever since.

I joined a club not too long after and things quickly came together as more experienced triathletes took time out to help me. I learned how to train, got involved with running, cycling and swimming sessions and improved a lot.

I think nearly everyone is capable of doing a triathlon. You can do it the hard way and try to learn everything yourself or you can join a club and get advice, insights and assistance on your journey.