Ask the Ironman: Q&A

My dad has done 13 Ironman Triathlon races! Which is pretty much incredible. And this year he got to go compete in Ironman Kona! I’ll write more about that later.
For those of you that don’t know exactly what an Ironman is, it is a 140.6 mile triathlon which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and then a marathon 26.2 mile run. Yes all in one day, in fact it has to be within 17 hours or it doesn’t “count.”
Completing one Ironman is a HUGE deal, let alone doing 13 of them. It’s the triathlon of all triathlons, and it is no easy feat. You can read about my first ironman experience here <<

Last week I posted on instagram and facebook asking people to post any questions they had for my dad about Ironman or triathlon training in general and as promised here are his answers.

ask the ironman


When did you start racing and what was your first race? My first tri was in 1985 in Austin almost 30 years ago. I then took several years off to have a life and family. Then I did my first marathon in 1999 in Dallas. Since then I’ve raced frequently and various distances. I got serious about triathlons in 2003 and did my first Ironman in 2006.
runin4lyfeThat’s freakin RAD!!! What inspired him to get started and what kept him coming back after 12 Tri’s? I just wanted to get in shape and wanted a challenge. I think the reason I keep doing it is that I enjoy it. If I didn’t truly enjoy it I would have quit a long time ago. I guess I also really wanted to go to Kona.
ericasc_tiuYou dad is awesome! Any tips for training for your first tri? Start with a short sprint distance race. If you aren’t a strong swimmer maybe try one with a pool swim rather than open water. You don’t need to invest alot of money in specialized equipment until you know if you like it. Any bike will work to start with. When training just make sure you can comfortably do the distance in each event. Don’t stress out about how fast you are just have fun.
ouagdAs a runner, I think the swimming would be the hardest part. Which is the hardest? Swimming is the most stressful event especially in open water swims. But it is also the shortest part of the race. I think the bike is the hardest part because it requires so much time during the race and in training.
mikeysgtboy13 Question, finished 13 that’s awesome! So how does he keep the fire and will within him, after doing so much!! thx congrats again!! I really do enjoy doing them. I enjoy swimming, biking, and running individually. Even when I not training for a race on my days off I will  do one or more of theses activities. I will admit the in the weeks leading up to an Ironman the long training sessions do get old.
africaandbeyondAmazing! Question-Does your dad have down time between training schedules or continue to train all year? I’m asking because after a recent marathon I’m finding it hard to get motivated to exercise/run. I think I need to vary my sport and would love to try tris (!)- but the swimming (and cycling to be honest) is a huge , frightening task…and tips for beginners? I do have down times between training.  But, I also always to maintain a solid base of fitness. It’s much easier to start a training block being fit rather than from scratch especially as I get older. The best tip I can give is to just be consistent with your training and listen to your body. Make it fun and enjoy.
 Questions continued…
ironman bike
Found him on the bike!
paul_r_miller1 time finisher here lol.. But two officially scheduled for next year! My question is this.. How do you keep a wife/gf happy and balance home life while training? Tell me some tricks cause I don’t want to be single forever Balancing family, work, and training is always challenging. It really comes down to how competitive you want to race.  If you just want to finish it really doesn’t require that much time.  However, if  you want to earn a Kona slot good luck because that will consume your life. It really is about balance and finding that balance does take time. You can eliminate all the “junk miles” and just have focused productive training sessions.
im az
Ironman Arizona 2006 From his first race…
im kiss
To his last… Ironman Kona 2014
berni_tiuHow does a normal training look like? And how often/long does he train? The nice thing about training is than it can be individualized to you time and strengths. Right now I only train 3 days a week. Off season that might be as little as 1 ½ to 2 hours a day. Prior to an Ironman to goes up to 6 to 6 1/2 hours a day. But if your work schedule is different you could spread those hours out over 6 days.   Personally I like to get up and train early. Start with a run then bike followed by a swim .Then I’m done and have the rest of the day free.
mrbleu12How do you keep the balance in your body as far as salts, sugars and carbs goes? I can’t even figure it out for a marathon and would love to one day do IM. Thank you in advance and your dad’s accomplishments are amazing! Nutrition is always a challenge. The problem is that everyone is unique and reacts different to various supplements and foods. The best advice I can give is to experiment in training and find something that works and stick with it. It is always temping to change your nutrition plan and try the latest fade or what works for someone else. Stick with what works for you and don’t change it on race day.
Which IM course is your favorite and which is your least favorite? My favorite course would be Lake Placid. Louisville would be my least favorite.
What was your favorite part of Ironman Kona? The history of the event. Just being there was amazing. All the great athletes that have competed there is just incredible and to be part of that was awesome.
What do you do differently today than you did in your first couple Ironmen? Experience is a great teacher. I train less but more focused and purposeful. I also try to enjoy it more. The race is the reward for all the hard training. Enjoy it. I also don’t let racing and training   control my life. It’s all about balance.
Most important advice you could give. Enjoy the moment. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but enjoy today. You never know how fast things can change. Be thankful for what you have, especially friends and family.
im run
Running off with the Texas flag into the Ironman sunset

My dad is a great motivator as he some how convinced both me and my younger brother to do an Ironman. We are lucky to have him as an encourager and support in whatever we do!

im cheering
Support is important! Cheer loudly!


go jeff go
From one of his first races 8 years ago! We had shirts made to cheer him on. Ironmaning is a family affair

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! If you have anymore questions leave them in the comments below!



  1. Your Dad is a beast and it’s obvious you’re proud of him thanks for sharing I enjoyed the read. Good luck on you Tri…

    1. Thank you so much! I definitely am 🙂

  2. This was so fun to read! I just signed up for my first (the new Ironman NC that was just bought out) and just hearing from someone so experienced is incredible!

    1. Katie how incredible! I am so excited for you to get to experience this for yourself. I will be cheering you on! Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

      1. Your first triathlon is going to be tough. Their is no way to sugar coat it. Go into it with the goal of hvaing fun and finishing it. Focus on your strengths. Running. Run 4-5 times a week and mix 2-4 days of biking in there. Make sure you do some brick workouts (ie. bike and then run workout right afterwords). Mix in some swim training when you can, and make sure your comfortable in open water (lake, ponds, river). This is prob more important than actually being good at swimming. Also, practice your transitions (taking off wetsuit, getting on bike, putting on running shoes), you can save alot of time, just by being good in between the swim, bike, and run.The training program you mentioned is decent, but it depends on what the distance of the triathlon is. Sprint Distance, Olympic Distance, other? I would personally always take one day off a week. I also don’t substitute strength workout for a cardio workout, because the cardio is much more important in triathlon. The min amount of time you should spend training each time on the bike is 1hr, run 30-45min, and swim 30min.Hope this helps.

  3. Thank you for sharing.

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