Pre-requisite for IM - discuss

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31/05/2008 at 21:01

I could never understand why some people could not catch the ball, its the same, but its not elitism. Its just that not everyone can do things which we take for granted.

05/06/2008 at 17:13
it wouldn't understand you so would make no difference at all.....

19/06/2008 at 14:06

Long-time German pro Lothar Leder and wife Nicole (she won IMDE last year) have written a training book for IM, in which Lothar states that a must for an IM finish is the ability to run a 3 to 4 hour marathon. He states that a 5-hour marathoner will find it pretty near impossible to finish an IM.  Obviously he's never heard of the Pirates nor seen a large majority walking the run course.

 I haven't read the book and replying to a Pirates forum on this topic is a dangerous thing to do I know ...however, it seems to me that Leder has a point.  Perhaps it comes down to the definition of 'finish' and what his target audience for the book is.  Of course, everyone has a right to do whatever events they want and should be applauded for whatever choice they make...super sprint, sprint. Oly, mid/HIM, IM etc. However, there comes a point at which just finishing starts to become less of a goal and more of an excuse, perhaps? I suppose this comes back to the old debate about whether going long is coping out or not, but we don't want to go there again.

However, if you a walking the bulk of the run course perhaps that is (in truth) saying that the event is not the correct one? If this is true then Leder must have a point and perhaps his suggestion that if you cannot run a marathon in 3-4 hours you should be targetting a shorter distance event, has some validitiy?

This year, I have done two ultra marathons and one mid distance and will be doing a 100m ultra and another mid tri. I feel proud of the fact that I have completed the ultra's and the mid in reasonable times and without resorting to lots of walking. Plus I felt like a change from over-crowded standard marathons and Oly tris. But in the back of my mind, I do wonder whether the real challenge would be to do shorter events faster? There are some similar debates on TT on this subject at the moment.

Of course, the beauty of the sport (and of the RW Pirates) is that everyone is encouraged to do their own thing and to set their own goals. So hats off to anyone who simply starts a tri/run of any distance. But equally, let's not necessarily jump down the throat of someone like Leder who is probably making a perfectly valid point - that is, of course, unless going long really is a cop out? 

Bouncing Barlist    pirate
19/06/2008 at 14:21

There is no doubt that getting faster is hard, which maybe why some of us go longer.  Personally I just go longer as its a sense of achievement for me.  I also concede that there seems to be more cudos attached to a 16 hour ironman finish than going under say 2:20 for an Oly, I dont actually know which justifies this the most?

As someone who once weighed 21 stone, for me finishing an Ironman is a major achievement (especially on what is commonly considered less than ideal preparation). 

PloddingOn    pirate
19/06/2008 at 14:22

less than ideal preparation


19/06/2008 at 14:50

BB - I agree with the sentiments. Just wanted to balance the anti-Leder views somewhat!!

As I said to a friend recently, one of the problems with a normal marathon is that the first question you get asked is 'what time did you do,' not 'did you have fun?'. With an ultra, the question tends to be' 'how the hell did you run for that long?' Much easier to answer this one

I also found it interesting that in 'The Perfect Distance', Rodgers talks about HIM being the perfect compromise for most middle agers like myself between the intensity of shorter tris and the (more daunting) time commintments of a full IM.

19/06/2008 at 15:01
I can't see that there's any argument over the definition of "finish".  As far as I can see to "finish" an ironman you need to start with everyone else, complete every section of the course and cross the finish line before the cut off.  That's it....... nothing else.  And on that basis the book is nonsense.  If you're towards the back end of an ironman then the prime consideration is endurance rather than speed.
19/06/2008 at 15:21

Perhaps its a bit like Eddie the Eel or Eddie the Eagle -  there comes a point at which finishing in itself becomes slighly ridiculous in a given context. Maybe Leder is simply saying that to finish an IM in a 'reasonable' shape and without shuffling round the run, you need to be able to run a 3-4 hour mara. What's wrong with that advice?

That's not to say that there is anyhting wrong per se with shuffling round the run course to finish. But equally, it may explain why the book might not be rubbish as 99% of the responses seem to conclude.

Probably the same as recommending Pfitzinger to a 4:30+ marathon running? Different target market?

19/06/2008 at 15:21

sorry Eric the Eel!

19/06/2008 at 15:26

i agree with mr w.

i'm a passable marathon runner (3-15), but a very pants swimmer and a distinctly average cyclist.

sunday in Nice will be my first IM, and if i can get round any way i can, even if i need all 16 hours, i'll call that a finish and i'll be very proud of myself, probably more than any marathon finishes.

i hope that people don't read his book and decide they can't do an IM- that would be a terrible shame.

19/06/2008 at 15:36
wouldn't be that much of a shame though, would it.  if he wrote a book that put somebody off solving world hunger, maybe.
19/06/2008 at 15:41

You can be fit and strong, but slow. I have been running for years, and train my arse off, but I am not yet below 4hrs for a marathon, but I can finish strong and confident.  I may or may not get there one day, but it could be years before I get there, and in the mean time I'll complete the Ironman!

There are many people in my running club who are slower than 4.30 for a marathon, but they are fit, have endurance, are strong and regular runners doing all the right training - just slow.

I guess theres a difference between being trained and fit but a slow runner (that doesn't have the genes to go faster), and an untrained person doing a slow time because they are not fit.

 Personally I want to enjoy my Ironman experience - as I do running and tri in my spare time for FUN, so i want to have the right base before I start, so I do think its worth thinking about how fit you need to be before you start a training plan (tho I defintiely don't agree with the you have to be a 3-4hr marathon runner).

Some people do Ironman as theire first tri - and fare play to them. I have however seen some people do this, and really struggle, injuries, motivation etc etc, and I wonder why they do it to themselves. Is there a hurry to do ironman - as it will always be there?

19/06/2008 at 15:42

FWIW - a few years ago, I was in Portugal with my in laws. We went to play San Lorenzo golf course but didn't have handicap certificates. I play off 6 an my FIL off 9, but the club said we couldn't play and yet allowed 36* golfers with handicap certificates to play willingly. In the end they relented on the condition that we hit 'decent' drives of the first tee. They paired us up with two German 36* golfers.

It was a bit like sending a beginner skier down a black run. The two Germans 'finished' the golf course after losing a bucket full of balls and taking nearly 5.5 hours. Did they enjoy themselves? Perhaps in a masochistic kind of way?

Would I stop them from playing. Of course not. But I would certainly suggest that they would have had more fun playing a course that matched their ability. Perhaps that is all Leder is saying.

If Tiger Woods wrote a book saying that golfers who cant hit their drivers 180y+ should play courses like San Lorenzo would he get a 99% negative response? I doubt it. So perhaps a bit of realism from a <8 hour IM is worth thinking about rather than being dismissed as nonsense.

19/06/2008 at 15:57

Perhaps there's a cultural issue here. Part of our culture seems to be our splendid ability to celebrate 'taking part' rather than 'winning' and to enjoy 'good-hearted amaterism'. In Europe, the balance seems slightly different - take skiing, many Brits will abandon lessons one they have achieved a basic standard and then spend the rest of their lives (happily) 'descending' black runs while their continental counterparts will be taking private lessons and perfecting their skills first to allwo them to 'finish' in style. Each to their own though!

19/06/2008 at 16:07

i'm not sure lothar leder has ever gone public and stated his position on world hunger. nor world peace and harmony for that matter.

unlike his position on foreground capabilities for IM, which he has apparently written a book about.

19/06/2008 at 16:17
yeah, what a bastard
19/06/2008 at 16:20

As a 4:45 marathon runner with no aspirations to do IM anyway, in my opinion the taking part and having a go, whether or not you've any chance of a 'good' time is to be celebrated and promoted.

Why the hell should people who will struggle to beat the cut-off not have a go if they want to?  So what if they are slow? 

TH2 - you seem to deride this way of looking at sports, as if you should only take part if you have met a certain standard (set by whom?).  What's wrong with just taking part and challenging yourself?

PloddingOn    pirate
19/06/2008 at 16:37
Whats your best IM time TH2?
19/06/2008 at 16:46

Wilkie - that is not what I am saying at all and I am certainly not deriding celebrating taking part in any way (read my last post). All I was attempting to do was to bring some balance to the debate about the Leder comment. After UI's original post, the responses tend to either (1) humorous or (2) this guy (a <8hr IM) is talking bull. No-one was prepared to 'debate' that he may have a valid point or that his advice might be targeted at a different audience to the glorious folk who are happy to complete an IM at whatever cost and in whatever time. Hence my Pfitzinger analogy...

Personally, I believe that he does have 'a' point. But that doesn't mean that I believe that people should not be congratulated for challenging themselves. FWIW (and you can argue, 'not very much'!) I believe that a bigger challenge for most mortals would be to tackle shorter distances and compete them faster. But there seems to me that there is a trend in many sports (not just tris) to stretch oursevles beyond reasonable limits and then to celebrate what is basically pretty poor performance but dress it up as an 'admirable finish'. Having said that, I will always stay behind at the end of a race to applaud the last finishers, because I can celebrate their achievements. But to return to the golfing analogy, my German friends would have scored better if they had putted their way round the golf course. But what would have been the point? Similarly, many skiers scramble/slip/fall their way down black runs in order to 'finish'. Great and well done. But perhaps they would be better off perfecting their technique and skiing red runs in safety and control. In that, I feel that Leder has a point.

So perhaps, there is a point at which attempting an IM does not make sense. It might be 3-4 hour mara pace it might be 6-7 hours. I don't know. But when someone of Leder's calibre states that this may be a limit, then it is probably worth thinking about rather than dismissing as Bllx! IMHO, of course!!

Symes    pirate
19/06/2008 at 16:46
According to Lothar I'll be quite good at IM type things as I have a sub 1.30 half mara and 3.30 full mara, how wrong he is as the 15hr + last year in Austria proved
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