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?