Monday, June 15, 2015

Tri Training: My Training Plan

Last winter, my good friend Courtney encouraged me to consider signing up for the YWCA Women's Triathlon.  She has done this race three times and had a great experience so she assured me that I would have fun.  I've always been in the "I don't need to try a tri" camp as it's always seemed a bit overwhelming to combine three sports into one race.  Plus in the past I did not have a bike so I always used that as my excuse to not do a triathlon....  but now I do have a bike and I can do all three sports (albeit not strongly) so I decided to just go for it and sign up!  I think it's going to be a great first tri for me as it's a local race, it's a women only race and it's a sprint tri which means I will swim 500 yards, bikes 15.5 miles, and run a 5k.  

Here are my thoughts so far on triathlon training!  (warning, the post got a bit long...)

Training plan:  The race provides a training plan but when I looked at it, it honestly overwhelmed me.  Through my many years of racing, I've learned that training plans are helpful but that I need to make them my own. Plus, triathlon training is not my sole focus for the year - I've also got a marathon to train for!  So I have totally modified the training plan and came up with something that works for me.  Is it an optimal training plan for a triathlon?  Absolutely not.  Will I be ready come race day?  I hope so.  I have absolutely no goal for this race besides finishing it and having fun so I feel comfortable utilizing a home-made less-intense training plan.  Maybe I'll regret that on race day but I don't think the anxiety of trying to follow the a scripted training plan + marathon training is worth it.  My overall plan is to run 3 times a week, bike twice, swim once, and do 2 strength training sessions.  Here are some more specific details about my training, broken out by sport.

Swimming:  Without a doubt, this is my weakest of the three sports.  I took years of swimming lessons as a child and grew up going to the lake so I definitely have a lot of experience swimming, but I am not exactly fast nor do I have a lot of endurance as most of my swimming has been recreational.  To gain strength in swimming, I decided to take a triathlon swim class through the YWCA.  I think that class warrants another post so I'll talk about that another time but the short story is that it's been very helpful.  Since swimming is my weakest sport I should probably be devoting more time to it, but I don't have a gym membership so I don't have access to a lap pool and it's not super convenient to get to a lake (and they are too cold for this wimp to swim in at this point of the year)... so right now I'm just swimming once a week when I go to swim class.  After class concludes at the end of June, my goal will be to go to a local lake to swim once a week.

Biking:  Luckily I live in an area that is really conducive to biking as I can walk out my front door and access many many miles of trails.  So getting in enough miles on the bike shouldn't be a problem.  My goal is to bike twice a week with one of those bike rides being a long one.

Running:  This is obviously going to be my strongest of the three sports.  I'm running way more miles a week than the plan calls for since I'm training for a marathon.  I'll be running 3 days a week with my run club and I don't plan on doing much more running besides that.

Bricks:  I've been told that brick workouts, which is a workout that incorporates two sports, are essential.  I haven't really started doing any of these, but my goal is to start doing them once I start doing open water swims next month as I plan on biking to the lake where the tri will be held, which is 6 miles away, swimming, and then biking home.  I also plan on biking to run club, which is 4 miles away, 1-2 times a week, weather permitting. I want to try to do some more intense brick type of workouts but I'm struggling to figure out the right day of the week to do that...  but I'll figure it out.

Strength Training:  The training plan doesn't call for any strength training but I want to try to fit in 2 strength training sessions a week as I know that strength training has made a huge difference in my running pace and overall look and feel so I want to find ways to fit that in.

Overall thoughts:  Even though I've crafted a plan of my own that is less overwhelming than the plan provided by the race organizers, triathlon training is still a little bit overwhelming. If I wasn't training for a marathon this summer, it might be less overwhelming as I wouldn't have to get so many running miles in...  The hardest part for me is making time for a personal life on top of training.  Phil is very understanding and respects the fact that I am goal orientated but he does kind of get the short end of the stick at times when I'm busy training for races like this... But I'm hoping we can do some of the runs together and I think he'll be up for coming swimming with me when the weather warms up so hopefully I can combine tri training with Phil time at least once a week.

All that said, I think that triathlon training will be good for me as it will force me to cross train, which my body will appreciate.  I know I've got the cardiovascular endurance to complete a triathlon and I'm trying to remind myself of that when I get overwhelmed or concerned about how race day is going to go.  I really want to have fun out there and have a great first race experience!

If you got through this whole post, you deserve a medal!  Have you ever done a triathlon?  If not, would you consider doing one?  For those who have done a triathlon, any tips/suggestions for me? 


CML said...

Yay! I'm so happy you're doing the tri this year. I wish I was doing the full tri with you, but I know you'll be hooked after your first and that we'll have many others to complete together in the future! :)
P.S. I know brick training is strongly recommended but I've done very little of this in the past (mostly just combining swimming and biking like you mentioned)- and I think if you're just doing the tri to have fun and not for a specific time, you'll be totally fine with minimal brick training.

Marlys said...

Sounds like a very busy schedule for this summer! I went in the lake this weekend and it was chilly but not bone-shaking cold like I thought! I actually got used to it quite fast! I am looking forward to doing some swimming and diving so hope it warms up a touch more.
Have fun training! Seems like a lot on your plate but I know you can pull it off!

Nora said...

I'll be honest, just reading about all of the planning involved in training for a tri made me feel rather...overwhelmed. I'm excited you're tackling this and look forward to updates and your race results when they come.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Super exciting to think about a triathlon. I actually completed a triathlon before I did my first marathon. It was during a rough patch at work (I was traveling 80% of the time and working insane hours). A co-worker encouraged me to start training with him. I made the goal of completing a triathlon and marathon before I turned 30, which I was able to do. Though, after I did the triathlon, I vowed never to do another one. I was happy to do one, but didn't love the swimming part of it. Like you, it was my weakest sport. And while I made the most strides in it during training, it wasn't enough to convert me to a lover of it. =)

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I think it sounds like fun! I'd do one if I was more motivated ha.

Carolina John said...

Do some bricks! The first time you try running after your legs are already shredded from a nice bike ride, it will feel like you're running on fire hydrants. You don't want to experience that for the first time on race day. Once you get used to running on tree stumps, it goes away but that can take several months. But yes try and get in 1 brick workout a week just so you aren't completely taken by surprise. I love the "just finish and smile" goal, that's what it should be for your first tri. That distance will take you around 90 to 120 minutes to finish so it's almost as difficult as a half marathon.

Caroline said...

From my limited experience with triathlons, I know bricks are really important! I especially struggled transitioning from the bike to the run, my legs felt dead! Now I try to jog even for just a couple minutes after every run to get used to that feeling. I think my arms were really tired on the bike after swimming too, so I'm interested to see if strength training helps with that! The other thing that took me by surprise (clearly I was extremely under trained for my first sprint tri haha) was how different swimming in an ocean/lake is than a pool. All my swims before my first tri were in a pool and I was used to stopping a lot and holding onto the edge.. now I'm definitely more used to swimming in the pond, but it took some getting used to! At the same time, the swim is relatively short compared to the other legs so it's almost good that's your "weakest" sport.

Stephany said...

Yeah, all that training sounds a wee bit overwhelming for me! But if anyone can tackle it and get it done, it's you! I am really excited to see how all of this goes for you.

I've never been totally intrigued by doing a triathlon. Maybe doing a relay one, where I could either do the swimming or biking portion? I just hate running so that's why I've never attempted one, haha.

Can't wait to follow along with your training!

Jeanie said...

This sounds exciting and intense, Lisa. But I have every confidence that you'll pull it off big time! Good luck!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Coming in here with your triathlon pep talk (totally biased- I love tris and will never do a marathon or any of the other crazy running races you do ha ha)

Here's the reality, you could do this race tomorrow without training. Sure, it might not be pretty, but you could do it. If you are just doing the race for fun, just to finish and not to meet any times, try not to let it overwhelm you. It's actually ideal that swimming is your weakness- this is true for the majority of triathletes I think and the swim is actually pretty short compared to the other parts of the race, plus you get it over with early before you are really tired and you'll be doing the run that you should be pretty trained for when you are more tired. Yes, you should do some brick workouts, but I think I have usually done 3-4 before each race, it's not like you need to do them weekly throughout training. Your plan to bike to running club and bike to swimming is all good enough, just make sure some of the times you make the transition pretty quick not like bike there, chat with people for 10 minutes and then run :)

I personally think the hardest part of triathlons is the logistical aspects: having all the stuff you need, making sure you don't forget anything when transitioning from one activity to the other (hence why I once wore my helmet backwards).

I think it's a great idea to try to do some of your training with Phil!

Leigh said...

I've only done one sprint triathlon and it was not my favourite thing either. Granted, I should have trained a bit more for it and practised the transitions more. I think you can do it with training and confidence!

Amber said...

I think you'll rock this! Like I said during our video chat, I honestly think you could complete the distances tomorrow if you had to since you have such an awesome base level of fitness between running and strength workouts right now. I think the training will be more to build confidence, swimming skill and also get your body used to doing bricks.

I did one triathlon the summer of 2011 while also training to run a sub 2 hour half-marathon in Victoria. It was fun and I really enjoyed the race itself but I didn't enjoy the training for it as it felt like too much to fit in and I haven't felt inclined to do another one since then. I especially don't like biking as I have to drive somewhere with my bike to get in a decent bike ride and can't really go straight from my house.

Cherry Blossoms said...

What a great life accomplishment. You are going to do great. All this training will be worth it when you cross that finish line with a huge smile on your face.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I am with Amber and Kelly. I think you could do this tri this weekend and you would be fine. You would probably be a little tired, and it may be a little slower than you wanted, but I think that it would be 100% doable. So, now all that you are training for is to be faster than you would if you did it this weekend!

I have never done a tri but have done quite a few races where I have felt like I did not train enough. Usually what happens is that I just don't do as well as I would like. But it's always possible to finish!

Abby said...

You are going to be amazing with how much more strong and prepared you are for this than you think! I train with people who do full ironmans (crazy!!), and they are so envious that I enjoy running. As I've found many triathletes are stronger swimmers and bikers, and really struggle with the run!

You are totally doing the right thing about taking some technique swimming classes. My BIGGEST advise regarding the swim a training swim in open water. I, like you, grew up swimming in lakes - and didn't think I'd flinch about that open water swim. Then I got in the lake, and I started hyperventilating. I had gotten SO accustomed to swimming in a lap pool. So just get into that lake before your race, and actually do a "distanced swim" with your cap & goggles, and practice sighting.

Really have your transition prepared. That's a big part of your "brick" workouts. Because it's great practice on jumping from one sport to the next, and figuring out what nutrition works best.

If you plan on doing any gu's - use electric tape to strap them to your bike! Then you can just tear them off.

The energy of a triathlon is like non other! I have a feeling you will be hooked after one. ;) Even though my 70.3 was hot and super challenging, I was ear to ear with smiles because it was such a cool environment to be a part of!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I've never done a triathlon, as I am not really keen on swimming, biking or running, hahaha! I can swim, but I would definitely have the hardest part with that part I think.