How do regular people train for an Ironman?

Regular every day people have to make choices (more accurately sacrifices) if they want to train for an Ironman.

The main sacrifice is time.

An Ironman cutoff is 17 hours. Training for a 17 hour race takes hours out of your week - in that way, there's no way around it.

We've all heard some variation of this:

"Of course I could do it, if I had nothing else to do".

And that's true for professional athletes, heck even high school and college athletes who have summers off.

But what about the regular person? With a 9-5 job, a family, chores, a lawn to mow... how do they do it?

Well, let's answer one question at a time. Starting with...

How much time do you need to train for an Ironman?

A full Ironman training plan tops out at around 19 hours per week, spread over 6 days.

Normally that breaks down further into 2, 1 hour sessions Tuesday through Friday, and long sessions on Saturday and Sunday. The long sessions typically top out around a 6 hour bike ride and a 3 hour run.

The 'regular person' simply needs to figure out what time of day those sessions can take place so they don't negatively impact the rest of their life.

The 'normal' working person has 3 'regular' options for those weekday workouts:

  1. Split morning & night sessions. One workout before work, and one later at night either after work or after kids go to bed
  2. Split sessions but one at lunch. Same as #1 but either the morning or evening workout takes place during their lunch break
  3. Doubling up (not typically recommended) and doing both workouts at one time.

The weekends tend to be easier because there's only 1 session, and even though they're longer - getting started early in the AM can still leave the majority of the day to be had.


How do you train for an Ironman with a full time job?

Here are the best tips to surround your work schedule with workouts - without sacrificing your job.

  1. Determine if you're going to work out before, during or after work
  2. Set up a schedule that allows you ample time to transition from work to workout or vice versa (things like showering, changing, eating)
  3. Fuel at work. Eat and hydrate as you can throughout the day so you don't need to cram it in before/after workouts
  4. Stretch (as reasonable) at work. There are plenty of hip/calf stretches you can do in a standard office chair to help recovery
  5. Above all - prioritize sleep. All the workouts can take a toll on your energy - which can impact your work. Getting a good nights rest helps prevent any 'brain fog' during the day

In the end, it comes down to setting a schedule, making it reasonable and realistic, and sticking to it.

You can flex times to your workouts on the weekends, but when that alarm goes off before work - rise and shine, the pavement ain't gunna hit itself!