Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run…

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  • Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run…
  • Premier Icon alfabus

    I hate running … And swimming … I don’t mind the riding though

    Go for a ride then… forget the triathlon nonsense, it doesn’t sound like it’s for you.


    Where do you start?

    Don’t start, why start, you don’t like running, cycling bores you.

    Read the rest of the book and you may find what you are looking for.

    Funnily enough I have just started doing all these things. I dont exactly have much advice but I am thinking just start regularly doing a bit of swimming and running (im already cycling). My two first thoughts are 1. swimming will benefit hugely from learning technique so I may get some advice, 2. be careful how quickly I build up the running in order to avoid injury. Fitness is often ahead of what knees and feet can deal with.

    Keep at it regularly for a few months it could be worth a go just to see if you like it, maybe in that time join a local club. Then enter a short distance one to try it out??

    Premier Icon psling

    charlie + 1

    Ask yourself why you’d want to do three things you don’t really enjoy. Perhaps you need to think about taking up golf…

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    If you don’t enjoy the activity you won’t drag yourself out of bed at 8am on a winters Sunday mornign to do it.

    Ride your bike more if that’s what you enjoy would be my advice. Not just ‘mucking about int he woods and stopping to get your breath back after every bit of singletrack’ type stuff – more riding xc for 2 hours and only stopping when you need to go through a closed gate.


    I’m not sure I typically ‘enjoy’ a proper training session. – but they certainly arent boring. The enjoyment for me comes after completing a good training session, setting new pb’s and completing events, etc.

    It it doesnt tick your box, dont do it


    Let me rephrase this then, seeing as few have got out of the bed the wrong side this morning.

    I enjoy riding my bike, it invigorates me every time I open the garage, choose a steed and throw my leg over it. Where it gets a bit dull is the road bits (i.e. getting to a trail, heading to work, or trying force myself to do an extra 20 miles on the way home from work). I’m more than happy enough chucking the bike about in the woods, and rather enjoy zinging along on the road bike.

    The comment about running and swimming are stemming from a fear of the fitness aspect required to really enjoy them. Running; well I’m sure if I found a set of trail shoes I could break up the monotony, and as far as swimming, well I guess I could check out the girls before and after I swim.

    I think what the point of my thread is this; who’s started from this point of utter beginnerness? I’ve thrashed about on MTBs for over 20 years, and take for granted my level of skill.

    To start something new, where I’m giving myself a huge challenge, is frankly quite scary.

    I’d like to think that at some point I might do what this chap (when I get to it) does, and does his first IronMan.

    And ultimately, it’ll make me a fitter, better and faster rider off road – which will make me enjoy it even more.


    ETA: If there’s Strava involved as well, then that changes the whole game.


    You only live once. Give it a go.

    Find a local sprint triathlon and set it as a target. The swim is usually about 500m and often in a swimming pool. Just go swimming each week and build up the distance you can do until you can swim that far. Don’t worry about how fast you do it.

    Much the same with the run and the bike. Don’t worry about the time, just try and get out and build up to the distances involved. As has been said, be careful building up the running to give your body time to get used to it.

    Do the event, and if a few days after you don’t have an urge to do better, sack it off and find something else that may tick your boxes a bit more.

    You never know you might enjoy it (or at least the challenge of it).



    Strava makes road cycling fun, as you compete against the world and your mates on segments. I also go on honesty box runs where I fill a camelbak with homemade cakes, fresh veg, and cider. It’s just another reason to get out on the bike. Go ride unknown places, twisty backroad routes, not just bang out miles.

    Wild swimming is cool, I live by the sea and have coves and sea quarries etc to explore. Inland you may find some rivers and lakes. It’s just a bit more of an adventure.

    I guess my view is dont train, just do it, and do the good bits. I am a great believer that if exercise is part of your daily routine, you stay fit. If you go to the gym for exercise, it’s just another choir. But this approach won’t help you do well in a triathlon, but it should get you started, and keep you interested.

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    seeing as few have got out of the bed the wrong side this morning.

    I think, mostly, we were just looking at what you’d written 😉

    Why not just find a bike related challenge – double century on the road or something?

    Again, if you don’t enjoy the activity (and if you’ve not done them for the 20 years you’ve been mtbing chances are they’re not a big draw for you) you won’t meet your own expectations.


    I think what the point of my thread is this; who’s started from this point of utter beginnerness? I’ve thrashed about on MTBs for over 20 years, and take for granted my level of skill.


    Always fancied doing a Triathlon, finally entered one last year. Could barely swim, had not run in years, wrong side of 40 and fat. Was surprised to find that running came relatively easy, I took that as being due to cycling. Swimming I persevered with and while I upped the distance the speed remained constant. Did a couple of shorter distances and was both surprised and pleased to finish in top half of the field.

    August last year I read Andy’s book, got me thinking……..

    Entered an IM, bought myself Be Iron Fit by Don Fink and used his 30 week training plan. Lessons learned. Build the running up slowly as you will injur yourself. Get swim coaching the sooner the better and also get some OW practise. And despite what Lance says it IS All about the bike.

    Unless you are single/have no responsibilities you will need to organise training time well and be prepared for early morning starts.

    I will be doing another IM next year.


    Ive read the book

    I reckon the best advice is to finish the book for one. Andy documents his experiences quite well & manages to convey the doubts that beset & the little victories he achieves in very humble way. Theres no hint of giving it the big un as some triathletes do..

    Use his approach as one to model your own on, you both sound quite similar. Try something small first, most gyms run indoor tri challenges or perhaps pick a small super-sprint style one. Dont be put off the by words “Super-sprint” they only really refer to the distance.

    Yes there will be racing snakes taking part too but youre not racing them, youre racing youyself & that IMO is the toughest person to race against.

    I say GO FOR IT, enjoy the journey. It may turn out not to be for you BUT at least youll have tried.

    All the best.


    mossimus, I think I’m in the same camp as you.

    As a young un, pointing and laughing at those funny looking triathletes whom I just couldn’t fathom out why on earth they’d do that rather than clatter down mountains really fast, I just didn’t appreciate it.

    However, as I’ve got older, things get harder, challenges more appealing and the sense of satisfaction of completing things more enjoyable.

    Finishing the CyB enduro in the top half of the field was a pleasant surprise this year, and I’m starting to think I’m ‘getting’ the whole point of triathlon – as a friend said to me ‘it’s contagious’ – additionally, I’m hoping it’ll change the way my body feels on a bike – no more groaning at distance.


    BigBeard +1
    iamcondusedagian +1

    I’d add … Don’t worry about what you can or can’t do now …You can only improve. Thats great!! We all like getting better at something.

    It’s also the right time of year to start… the Tri season/races will start again in the spring giving you lots of time to be able to complete the distances involved… infact if you start tonight doing little and often you could well be upto the sprint distances by the Xmas which would give you lots of time to get quicker over those ditances in the new year

    Get involved what you got to lose, except a couple of lbs and some dollar.


    Morning all,

    Have started to read this book by Andy Holgate which is a description of his transition from slightly fat bloke to someone who does an Ironman (haven’t got that far in the book yet).

    It’s got me starting to think seriously about it; I used to work in a major Triathlon retailer many years ago, and so know an awful lot about it, having helped at trade stands at various major triathlons.

    Trouble is, I’m also that slightly fat bloke. I can steer a bike, but I’m not exactly all that fit.

    So, fellow secret triathletey chums. Where do I start?

    I hate running by the way. And swimming is reserved for cooling down on hot holidays.

    I don’t mind the riding though, albiet with a set of headphones on to alleviate the boredom of the miles. Which at the moment aren’t much…

    Premier Icon njee20

    I did a triathlon when I got bored of mountain bike racing a couple of years ago. I’d not run or swum since school, and was no good at the former then, and never did the latter to any degree of seriousness.

    Swimming is massively about technique, I went and saw a triathlete friend (who was also coaching me) and we did some underwater analysis of my stroke, which it turned out was ok, then it’s just practice.

    Running I hate, and to be honest it’s the reason I don’t do more tri’s. I’m no good at it, so I don’t enjoy it, and because I don’t enjoy it I’ve no desire to train, so I never get faster. Vicious circle.

    Just do it. There are a huge number of people at triathlons who are just there ‘to do it’ – far more than mountain biking (XC racing at least), if you’re half reasonable at one of the disciplines you could be a disaster at the others and not come last.

    Premier Icon wallop

    How about geocaching by bike?


    Can I point out, if I may, just to give some idea of clarification on what makes me tick.

    I’ve done the Megavalanche 4 times (and done reasonably well, lining up in the bigs boys race). And, god help me, I might be going back again next year.

    So I’m not shy of a challenge that requires a lot time in a dark place of pain.

    It’s just I say I hate it, when I always secretly love it and can’t wait to do it again.

    Premier Icon wallop

    So you need something big to do like Trans Wales or similar?


    Perhaps. I was just thinking something more that I could do locally really.

    ETA: Yes, I know Mega is hardly local, but you know what I mean.

    Premier Icon wallop

    Why not just join BADTri then? They seem to have booked out all the best lane swimming times in pools across the city and you get free coaching!


    I have; I’ll be pulling on their coat tails as much as I can – it’s going to be hard to not be a mountain biker tho. Big culture shock!



    Go and check the runnersworld forum. Judging from the threads there half the entrants for ironman are slighty fat people starting from low fitness levels who don’t really like the sports they’re doing.
    I turned down an opportunity at work to take part in ironman research study a couple of weeks ago involving taking non-triathletes and giving them 8 months of personal training, regular vo2 tests, nutrition management etc. But in the end I decided that I don’t really get enough pleasure from training to enjoy the process.
    For instance I’ve got friends who do pretty much all there running on treadmills. For me if running meant running on a treadmill, or cycling meant cycling on a turbo, I wouldn’t do either. But some people get far more of a buzz from the physical improvement, where as I’m more into feeling the wind in my receding hair and the ever changing landscape of the outdoors.
    So if you get as much pleasure from training for an event as you do from event itself then go for it.

    Premier Icon Hells

    The sequel: Can’t Sleep, Can’t Train, Can’t Stop is due out on the 1st of Jan 2013!! 😀

    If you want to try this type of racing without worrying abiout the swimming bit, do a Duathlon! There are plenty about through the winter months.

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore

    GFI – really great to have three sports to enjoy and better for the body than running alone. Start with short course (Blenheim, Eton if you are in the south). You can hire kit for year 1 and no need to go for all the bling on the bike. Your body has much more impact on aerodynamics that some thin frame (but do fit tri bars to your bike!).

    Go to tritalk rather than rimmers world = otherwise you will be dragged into the only tri worth doing is an ironman, which is bllx.

    Good luck and enjoy! As an ex-retailer you will know how to avoid the tri-marketing BS -worse than MTB BS



    This thread was pointed out to me by a mate. I’m the bloke that wrote the book you are reading at the moment.
    Cool that it’s got you thinking about doing a triathlon.
    Anyway a lot of great advice has already been given, check out Tri-Talk, RunnersWorld, BegginerTriathlete, Slowtwitch etc… you’ll get great advice, training tips and the occassional slap, but that’s forums for you.
    If you are into mountain biking ( which obviously being on here you are ) why not find an off-road duathlon or triathlon where you could use your specialised bike handling skills?
    I agree that Ironman isn’t the be all and end all, I have as much fun doing sprint triathlons – you have to enjoy it, even with a little bit of denial I guess to get your arse out of bed and do the training.

    Given your knowledge and base fitness you shouldn’t have any problems, add in the swimming and the tri club coaching and you’ll be sorted.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of the book and all the very best with your triathlon and mountain bike training and racing.


    ps: If I can do it, I firmly believe anyone can if you want it bad enough.



    I just this week joined up with BADtri myself. Like you I am starting from beginner status… a poor runner, slightly better than poor swimmer, OK cyclist. Decided to do a few tri’s next year and thought I would get involved with a club for motivation and access to training.
    I did Blenheim sprint last year and it was ace, got round but really struggled on the swim and run. What I noticed about it was that pretty much everyone was helpful friendly and supportive. I saw hardly any negative attitude and the whole thing was a very positive, inclusive experience. You’ll see all sorts just trying to get round, you won’t embarrass yourself, especially if you commit to a bit of training.
    My advice would be to sign up to some sprint events now, that way you won’t back out.. plus a lot of the good events get sold out fast. I’m doing Duston (Northamptonshire) as my first of the season next year, it is April 21st, so nice and early in the season, and a pool swim to ease into it. Will probably do Blenheim again as well.
    I’d be happy to meet up for mutual moral support as new members when going along to the first club training session, I’m in Bishopston and will be going to the Horfield leisure centre based swim sessions and the saturday cycle rides.



    Premier Icon flange

    Worth keeping in mind that Tri’s are an absolute bastard to get an entry for. I’d start looking as soon as they open entries up. You’ll have something to aim for then..

    This time of year you want to be out just doing steady winter miles to give yourself some endurance/base. Just go out, pick a route and ride for as long as you can stand.

    I’m going to do some big road rides over the winter in slightly more interesting places than where I currently ride. If I head over your way I’ll give you a shout – I’ve heard there’s some hills round your way.

    Premier Icon Sandwich

    I refer you to the Lexicon. Enough said.

    Premier Icon teamhurtmore

    flange – Member
    Worth keeping in mind that Tri’s are an absolute bastard to get an entry for.

    +1 and have become over-priced for what they are. £5 for a nice LDWA ultra marathon challenge of £70-100 for a tri. Hmmm…..

    ironholgs – nice book BTW!! Wasn’t knocking IM BTW, just the rimmers world obsession with them. I agree with the book title that claims that HIM is “The Perfect Distance” but horses for courses.


    Teamhurtmore – Didn’t take it that you were, and I agree with you. Half Ironman races are great fun, just the right mix of speed and distance. Oh and Thanks 🙂


    Now then, didn’t think I’d be chatting to the chap who wrote the book that nearly had me miss my bus stop this morning on the way to work (I’d have ridden in this morning, but have an appt later, just in case anyone was wondering).

    I’d like to think that I’d be in a position to set myself a target of an IM one day; after all, working alongside experienced IMs and people such as Robin Brew, for example, I always had huge admiration for them.

    As such, I really appreciate the advice and encouragement, especially from Holgs. Perhaps we could get him onto the trails 😉

    Now I’m a bit older, bit fatter, and a bit more stupid, I’ve realised that I should just get on and do it.

    That and the girls are hot to look at.


    No Chance of getting me on the trails, I’m too much of a wuss, I’d wear my brakes out on the first downhill section 😆

    I find stupidity helps.


    I can do stupidity. I did the Mega for 4 years running don’t forget.


    Do a sprint Tri first to see if you’re going to like it or not. I did my first sprint Tri this year and loved it and will do more – but not sure about an Ironman. I like the idea of doing one, but the training required is significant adn almost impossible for me to schedule in between work and family. Unless you can put the training in it is not worth it. But sprint distance and maybe working upto Olympic distance will be a good fun goal to start with.


    Having the time to train for an Ironman and the support of your family are vital for success. Without either you’ll struggle or get divorced. It can be a selfish sport to train for with long unsociable hours. Now I’m a dad I try and get my long rides in on a weekend usually starting at 5am so as not to impact too much on family time. Or I run early during the week before anyone else is up.


    Worth keeping in mind that Tri’s are an absolute bastard to get an entry for

    Nonsense. There must be a dozen within a 20 mile radius of my house and most are in the region of £30 for a pool based sprint to £45 for a lake based standard. You just have to adjust your sights from one of the blue ribbon events to a local one. Anything with IM in the title however I agree, Kerrrching!

    Anyway get thee to a swim club or tri club swim session. That’s my only advice.

    Personally I don’t like running, can’t do it and don’t enjoy it. so next years challenges will be a couple of road centuries, at least one 3km open water swim and the sprint tri at the local leisure centre (Beast the swim, beast the bike, walk the run!)


    Neil mate, back away from the crazy talk!

    What you need is a good offroad, end-2-end ride. I don’t know, like the Wales Coast to Coast?


    I did the cycle bit of a super sprint relay triathlon, really really liked it.

    I’m kinda tinkering with idea of seeing if I can do the supersprint all myself. Swimming is easy (ish), I used to do over 20 hours a week as a lad so I know my technique is ok I’d just need to get the swim muscles back, 3-4 hours a week will see me able to do the distance in a decent time.

    Cycling is also easy, my commute in and out of work is 15miles each way, whereas the supersprint distance is 16km (10 miles) – I did struggle to up the speed as I’m conditioned to 50 mins and not 35 or whatever it was though, tyres made a massive difference.

    Running however – I was a 100-200m sprinter and never had the stamina/ability to pace myself (sorry the wife) and my knees are a bit shot after years of sprints on hard ground (summer was sprint training and winter lacrosse). That’s the one bit that’s holding me back, the wife started the couch to 5k thing but has ended up going back to zumba and some boxing thing instead. I don’t know if I should go to the GP for a look at my knees or a specialist physio type to assess them first. I like the thought of getting one done (triathlon) before i’m 40 (2 years to go) and using our relay time plus 50% as the target – I think would be possible except for the knees.


    do an off-road, mtb tri. if you can ride well off road you’ll do ok even if your swimming and running are not that good. i’ve done a few and find them more enjoyable/appealing than road events.

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