Thursday, February 9, 2012

And now for something completely different...

Maybe not completely different, after all there will be a bike portion.

I've been toying with doing a triathlon for a while, but had always ruled it out because of the way running made my knees hurt, the hours of training I perceived it would consume and the thought I would end up mediocre at three events instead of exceptional at one. However, as a former runner and a cyclist who enjoys swimming in the off-season, the thought of doing one kept bouncing around in the back of my mind. Last year, it bounced around so much that I began what I called "exploratory secret training" in November. I figured if I could bring the running online and work up to the 1.2 mile swim distance, I MIGHT give serious consideration to doing one.

As it turned out, it seems the problem were the shoes as well as the lack of discipline in SLOWLY introducing running to my body.  In November I began a "Couch to 5K" training program. Yeah, I know  but,  I always overdid it in previous attempts, so I figured following a beginner running plan might be the ticket -- that and a new pair of shoes from The Running Company. Sure enough, three months later and I'm able to run a hour with no soreness in knees or legs. Speed is picking up as well. I'm quite happy about this as running was always my first love. 
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12

November also found me heading to the pool. I knew the first few weeks would be difficult because I had so little muscular endurance in my upper body and I found myself needing to rest about every 25-50 meters. But, I discovered I had some friends with a lot of competitive swim knowledge and they generously helped me improve my form. In fact, form is all I worked on at the start. I know from other sporting endeavors that speed can always be added, but lay in bad muscular habits and it's difficult to eradicate them. At this point, I'm still working on form, but beginning to integrate drills for improving speed. My practice is to do the speed work, but if my form begins to falter, I slow down. When fatigue rattles my focus, I slow or take a break, because I'm still very much having to think about several things while I swim. Where are my hips in the water? Am I kicking from the hips or letting my knees bend too much? How close are my feet together? What is my stroke like? Etc. It takes time to gain automaticity and I want to train my body and mind correctly.

The bike portion? I'm not concerned about that with the exception of getting crashed at the transition. I've seen (and giggled) at several YouTube tri transition videos, but I know my legs feel wobbly just getting out of the pool, so I may soon be laughing with and not at. ;)

Finally, last month a friend said, "You should just do one. You might surprise yourself." It tipped the balance and a little voice in my own head replied, "I think I will," and I committed to a tri training plan on 18 weeks to showtime. So much to learn.  

It's exciting though. It's nice to do something new. I like the mix of workouts and my body is feeling more well-balanced already. I'm planning to do a sprint tri in April, to see what it's like, and I've not handed over my money for the entry yet, but March 1 will fix that. 


  1. I don't think so. I looked at the running times and those women are seriously fast and that's not even peeking at the pro ladies -- only the age groupers, which is all I aspire to. My running still feels a heavy as opposed to light and quick, but I did do 4x5 min set of intervals at sub-threshold HR yesterday and that felt good. Currently, that HR level gets me a 7.5 minute mile pace (8 mph). When I bump up to threshold, I can do a 7 min mile pace. As my weight comes down and my form improves, it'll get better, but that's the starting baseline.

  2. Just remember that the longest portion of a du or triathlon is always the bike portion.

    You got that caked.

  3. Ha Ha, Knew it wouldn't be too long. Gotta have those challenges.

  4. Sigh. I knew I was going to have to hear that from you, Coach.