I’ll start off by saying the first weeks of training have been a wake up call. For those that have trained for longer distances or faster PRs it’s not quite like that, it’s more like when you’re a kid and your Dad throws you in the pool to teach you to swim. In this case, there is a more literal interpretation but what I have learned more than anything is that your weaknesses bubble up quickly.
Dipping My Toe in the Water
Swimming has definitely been the first big obstacle and I consider myself a pretty strong swimmer having grown up near water, but what you can’t prepare yourself for is the endurance related to continuous swimming. Before anything though I needed to find somewhere to swim and settled on a local gym near home and office where I could break away and train when times presented itself. We do have some local lakes and rivers of course, but accessibility is important to ensure the training schedule stays on track. I decided to save the open water for weekends and so the pool training begins.
I started slowly just getting into the vibe staying under 1000 meters for each training session and found I tended to go faster than I wanted so needed to slow my pacing (or I would bonk/drown). I also tend to do this when I run and go out too strong, but swimming hits you way harder and much faster. I also wasn’t prepared for the ears, nose, breathing, etc but the addition of a swim cap and nose plugs have really helped things in this area. I also ditched the normal trunks in favor of the jammer style suit and honestly it’s a huge benefit, you definitely cut through the water a bit more. Thanks to our great sponsors, Zoot and TYR here. And yes, you feel a little self-conscious at first, but then you realize everyone is in the same boat and you just go with it.
Double Days and Mixing it Up
The next big step has been mixing the workouts so layering a back to back run in with a ride or a run with a swim and this has actually been more fun. You can mentally create these little personal duathlon moments and it really helps. So for me it’s a run to the pool, a quick change into a solid swim, and then a run back. The calorie burn is pretty high so have to remember to replenish, but I’m loving this part of the challenge. I also started two-a-days, so wake up to a decent run and then ride at night or vice versa or swap a long swim. I won’t win any awards with speed here, but getting the endurance portion under my belt first.
I also did a little more trail running and somehow got roped into a trail half marathon at elevation. In all honesty, I was a nervous wreck before it started having never done much trail work prior. The first few miles had me rolling ankles and I was focused on settling my nerves, but once I found my pace and got away from the pack I found my groove and finished strong. I am definitely going to incorporate more trail runs into the regime because it just blasted my legs and my next road excursion felt even smoother and honestly, a little easier. Trail running for triathlon training, who knew?
Learning the Benefits of Team Training
On the bike side, I’ve had several great long rides layered in here as well and found some good training partners which are key. They aren’t into tris all that much, but they push me harder on the bike and this really seems to help me overall. I put in a lot more miles on these group rides than I would normally and the layering of the competitive nature of the group really drives me. Moral of the story here, find a good group of folks to train with, it can be a little intimidating at first but get over it… It’s worth it. The next step is making the jump from road bike to a tri bike. Its a daunting prospect as I’ve ridden a lot of road the past few years, so I will definitely chronicle that switch over.
Overall, the first few weeks have been both mentally tough and physically demanding, but a lot of fun. My next big hurdle is going to be vacation because in the midst of training we are heading to Ireland and Scotland for two weeks. The running gear comes with though and I have really high expectations for myself and performance and actually super pumped to log some miles over there. I will keep things updated as we travel. I think I’ve also resigned myself to try a duathlon after some training advice so I can see how the stage transition works without the demand of the swim. More to come!