Why do I say no “formal” training? Formal training would probably take place months and sometimes years ahead of an ironman. Formal training would involve swimming THEN biking, and THEN going for a run. Formal training would include knowing somehow what a triathlon is all about.
Let me tell you what I did to “train” and you tell me if that qualifies as (formal) training. First off, I only found out about the Ironman 3 weeks before the event. I did not even know the Great Floridian triathlon existed before October 1st. In that time frame, I swam 3 times. Not 3 times a week, 3 times. Each time I improved more and more thanks to a colleague of mine who was a competitive swimmer who gave me the most basic of help. Our conversations sounded something like this:
Her: How was the swim yesterday?
Me: Well it was okay, I did 60 laps (up and back is 1) no stopping and no touching the walls. Can I ask you some questions?
Her: Sure, by all means
Me: So when you swim, are you supposed to pull back on the water using your shoulder muscles or back muscles?
Her: If your shoulder muscles are sore, it means your technique is poor
Me to myself (Well I’m not going for the nicest stroke here, bub): Oh really how so?
Her: You should be using your lats to pull back on the water once you extend your arm forward, not your shoulders.
Me: Ah I see. How are you supposed to hold your hands? Do you cup them, or are you supposed to spread your fingers out?
Her: Cup them
Me: I see, and what about breathing. Do you lift your whole head out of the water when you inhale?
Her: No, definitely not. You should only just tilt your neck to the side, even just tilt your jaw.
You get the point. Formal training would have included a swim coach and multiple sessions a week.
Lets move on to the bike. Again, I do not own a bike. Therefore, my biking experience is very limited. Let me repeat, I DO NOT OWN A BIKE. Having to spend 8 hours and 17 minutes in the saddle was not pleasant to say the least. Formal training would have included riding a bike at some point for some distance over a mile.
And the run? Playing soccer ten hours a week is hardly “formal” training for running a marathon. In fact, most of the games are on small fields where quick bursts of speed, agility, and explosiveness are skills more valuable than long term endurance.
And the marathon I ran in 2008. I ran it having agreed to take someone’s place 9 days before the race. “Serious marathon runner” give me a break.
I’m not saying that I am unfit. I’ve always said I am in good shape from soccer but by no means am I a elite tri-athlete. I am just your normal guy who was determined. So determined that I would have drowned before calling for help in the swim, walked my bike if I had a flat, and passed out before calling it quits on the run.