Spring Training Tips for Beginner Triathletes
Anyone who has ever tried to train for a marathon, a 400-meter swim or a simple bike race knows that either discipline is no joke. Imagine training for all three at the same time. Just the thought of it is enough to discourage many from even pursuing the challenge.
But also imagine that thousands of people all over the world do it – so you know it’s possible – and consider the long-term benefits – maintaining the same weight over time, building muscle, having more energy, feeling younger and preventing overuse injuries.
So don’t think of the sport of self-torture and embrace the opportunity to be the best you can be, set an example, get fit and healthy, and make new friends for life. Remember that everybody was a beginner at one point, working towards perfecting their training regimen.
Spring is almost here. Get out of the house and get to work.
Swim in a pool
The beaches are not open yet but you have to get your body used to swimming. Get in the pool. You have to swim on regular basis – no excuses. You should practice at least three days a week in order to improve your technique.
Buy running shoes
You won’t get away with running wearing your all-purpose sneakers. Invest in proper footwear to optimize your training and avoid injuries. Do your homework. The best pair for you will depend on your feet structure, experience and gait.
Work on your weakness
You’re probably not great at swimming, running and cycling. Identify the sport in which you have the most troubles and work on it. There is no point in spending more time doing what you are already good at because, unfortunately, your strength in one area won't fix your weakness in another. Keep track of what feels good so you can clearly recognize where you need to train more.
Don’t forget the wetsuit and goggles
You don’t want surprises during the triathlon so make your training as close to an actual race as possible. You will need a wetsuit and goggles to swim in open water on the big day, so why would you want to leave them at home while training? This is a bad idea. Your body has to get used to feeling of a wetsuit and you have to learn how to move in it. You need more upper body strength. Get a triathlon suit and save yourself the trouble of having to change in between events while wet.
Make a plan
About one-fifth of triathlon is swimming, half is cycling and a third is running. Your training segments should not be much different. A balanced athlete would swim every week for three hours, bike for five and run for two. But you may be a good swimmer and a weak biker. Then you have to adjust by swimming an hour less and cycling an hour more. Don’t do too much too fast because you’re making yourself vulnerable to injuries. Keep the intensity of your workouts between five and six on a scale of 10.
Bricking means doing two of the disciplines back to back. It’s a good idea because, after all, you will have to during the actual race. The hardest part is mastering the cycling to run transition, so you may want to do this kind of brick more than others. You don’t have to go the full distance in both events. Complete one race and then do a mile of the other.
You MUST rest
The last thing a person, who is working hard to achieve a fitness goal, wants to hear is that he or she must rest, but there is no other way. Sometimes you just have to sit on your tush and let your body heal. You will be tempted to train in at least one of the disciplines but you have to say “no.” Your muscles need time to repair and get ready for another strenuous workout. Overworking increases the risk for injuries which can lead to your skipping the triathlon you’re working hard for.
Any bike will do
You don’t need some crazy expensive bike to get ready for the cycling part of the triathlon. Use whatever you are comfortable with – road bike, mountain bike or hybrid. What’s important here is that the bike fits you and is in good condition.
It’s easier than you think
Most triathletes agree that it takes 12 weeks to go from a couch potato to your first race. There is no reason you should be at the gym five hours a day; this is not a Superman competition. In fact, fewer than 10 hours a week will get you ready.