That moment you commit to do a triathlon, your life races to another level. Mentally, physically, you’re never the same after crossing that finish line. An elite few can call themselves triathlete, but the number is growing almost as fast as most of us wish we could finish the course!
USA Triathlon reported in 2013 a record high in membership growth, noting nearly 175,000 registered triathletes. That’s an impressive body of people biking, running, and swimming to an almost super-human level of athletic greatness!
Recently, at the fifth annual Fitbloggin’ conference, an entire session was dedicated to discussing the sport of triathlon, lead by Jennifer Sader @ToledoLefty. Many attendees of the conference have a triathlon medal (or several) hanging at home, and many were entering the sport for the first time. It was an incredible meeting of the minds where no question was too ridiculous and the experienced “elders” generously espoused wisdom to the newbies. The chat really embodied the spirit of the conference.
So what do these seasoned triathletes know now that their beginner selves probably could have used? We snagged some of their insights and hopefully you’ll feel more prepared when you start your own training.
…Training that should include more brick workouts! @DubyaWife swears by the training style, which has you finish one training style (say, biking) and immediately transition to the next training (like a run) during the same workout. These intense sessions prepare your body for the realities of the actual event.
Lieutenant Dan Would be Proud
Wipe your feet clean and dry them before you transition to the bike ride. This tip can help prevent any discomfort from debris or moisture caught in your shoes.
Tarzan and the Monkey Legs
“Training to be comfortable and confident with open water swimming seems to be the hardest [part of tri training] to tackle,” said Erin Kreitz Shirey, an ACE certified master trainer with a degree in Kinesiology who trains at DigDeepPlayHard.com. She designed the following upper body drill to help gain that confidence in the water, as well as shake out what the group called “the monkey legs.”
- Swim 25 yards (1 lap) Tarzan stroke (Swimming with head out every 4th stroke, “spotting the buoy”)
- Hop out of the pool and do 5-15 push ups
- Hop back in and swim a 50 yard sprint
- Hop out of the pool and do 5-15 push ups
- Repeat for 5-10 sets
“It helps to incorporate this drill at the end of the workout, when your body is already fatigued, to replicate the exhaustion from open water swimming,” she noted.
Save Your Money
Triathlons can be an incredibly expensive sport, but there are ways to save for newbies and veterans alike. Several suggestions were made to buy used triathlon bikes from sources like Craigslist, where bikes go for a few hundred dollars compared to upwards of $2,000 for new. These athletes suggested getting fitted at a bike shop first so you know exactly what you need to find. One attendee said, “Don’t spend too much in the beginning on a sport you don’t know if you’ll like.”
Too Close for Comfort
And that fit should be “right up close” ladies, according to @DubyaWife. She demonstrated on her tippy toes just where the bike’s bar should sit when you’re riding.
As for those transition stations, there’s as much a fine art to that process as there is knowing when to breathe and spot yourself in the water. @Sweating_It_Off said he likes to set up his bike transition at the very end of the rack. Not only is it easy to find when the crowd is hustling, but you can also get back on track quickly without wading through the sea of people.
Burst Your Bubble
Also, don’t try to mark your spot with something like a balloon; @ToledoLefty said she’s attended races where the officials cut them all down. Instead, get a unique colored towel to drape over your seat or some other kind of “qualified” marker.
Practice Makes Perfect
@DubyaWife dry runs half the race and transitions one week before the actual event. She wakes and dresses at the exact time she would on race day, and then goes through half the mileage, including walking through the transitions to feel more comfortable with the steps.
Remember What’s Important
At the end of it all, enjoy it. “Have fun and get fit, don’t worry too much about your time,” was @ToledoLefty’s closing thought on triathlon training.