Thursday, August 23, 2012

Slacker training plans

[Or...how NOT to do a Triathlon & Half-Marathon]
[Or...instead of Couch-to-5K...this is 5K to Sprint-Tri] 

Quick & Dirty Tri training
If you can answer yes to these questions:
  • Can you swim the breast stroke?
  • Have you run 2 to 3 miles before?
  • Do you have any kind of bike, or can you borrow one for a few weeks?  
  • Are you nuts, or have something to prove to a co-worker or spouse?
Congrats! You can do a tri!
[don't forget to fit a fat-ful Disney Cruise in the middle of your training]

Oh, one more question:
  • Do you hate waiting around for three months to do something you could cram preparation for in 5 weeks? My people.
Slacker Summer Sprint
Week Swim Bike Run Bike  Run
1 500 - 1000m spin 1 hour* 2 -3 miles* 5 - 10 miles 3 miles
2 500 - 1000m* 5 - 10 miles* 4 miles spin 1 hour 3 miles
3 500 - 1000m 5 - 10 miles* 4-5 miles 10 - 15 miles 3 miles*
4 500 - 1000m* spin 1 hour 4-5 miles 10 - 15 miles3 miles*
Race 500 m 5 - 10 miles 3 miles [rest for race] [rest for race]
*Make sure to do two workouts per week together; aka a "double"


 Slow & Painful Tri experience

Weekly workouts

Aw...newbie at Fins Wheels Feet, 2006
Depending on your ability and procrastination potential, I would give 4-12 weeks prep time in advance of a race. For my first triathlon, I had never run a mile straight, so I focused on that for like, 3 weeks as my New Year's Resolution (so, starting on Jan 2-ish), and my race wasn't until Mother's Day. I used the stationary bike for training [so wrong], because I didn't yet own a bike. Hubby bought me one in advance of my 30th birthday, so I had it for a total of 2 weeks before the race. I had never ridden a bike with gears before, so I got it backwards. You know how when you are learning to drive a stick shift and you are supposed to go down to a lower gear when you go up the hill to get more traction? Yeah, well, kinda like that kind of logic may have been dancing around in my head and mixing me up. What can I say, I'm a winner. So I basically swam for three months in preparation, and for this race that portion lasted precisely 5. Minutes.

  • per week at least: 1 swim, 2 bikes, 2 runs; combining at least 2 of these as 1 double
 
Off days
I lift weights. One is 35 pounds and the other is 29. They move and wriggle so that gives me that "shock your body" effect. Seriously, just try to keep your body loose & hydrated.

  • call your local twin mommy for some off-hours activity
 
Double workouts
A big part of tri-training is getting used to doing two and three disciplines at once. The first time I did a "Brick" [bike + run], I realized they so-named it because that's how your legs feel afterwards. But NOW, you know I love a good double workout! I actually would love to swim after every workout if I had the time. But I love to swim. You might have something else that you love to do. Maybe you want to do a quick run before you do anything else to warm yourself up. The slacker in me lets you do any discipline in any order. Although you are learning to swim, then bike, then run, my experience is that if you are going to enjoy your workout, you are actually motivated to do that workout, so do what you feel like doing. There is definitely a shock to the body after you race out of the water and try to get to your bike, and subsequently wobble off the bike and begin to run, but we are not winning any races this year, are we? We just need to make sure we know how to do each discipline, and hopefully, how to do each discipline efficiently.

  • You gotta try a double, so if your schedule is tight, try doubling up as much as possible 

And while we are on the subject of swimming...
IronGirl Columbia, MD, August 2007. That's me in the green cap.

I honestly believe anyone can get through a Sprint or Olympic distance race by doing the breast-stroke. I think that swimming, and access to a pool on a regular basis, is one of the biggest barriers to entering triathlon. As my coach says, you are never going to "win it" on the swim. In fact, I am a pretty swell swimmer and after I pass people, I say to myself, don't worry, y'all can pass me on the bike...or the run...but go ahead and let me pass you now, cuz I'm good at this and it gets me through when you pass me later. Again, the key component is to be efficient enough in your swimming so that you have plenty of energy to complete the rest of the race. And if this is accomplished by keeping your head out of the water to see what's going on around you and where you are headed, then go ahead and swim the breast stroke. 
  • I try to swim the distance of the race once a week, erring on the long side.
 
Oh yeah, here's something new: transitions!
Here's where my musical theater training gives me a leg up. I once did a show where I had to bound up twenty rows of seats at an incline, enter a small curtained hideaway in the middle of said audience, change out of a chef's hat, double breasted dress and heels into a cowboy hat, bodysuit, riding pants and knee-high boots and bound back down that twenty rows at an incline and back onstage in oh, say, 12 measures of music. [Also while singing backup harmonies.] But I digress. Coming out of the water, toweling off, and putting on bike shoes, helmet, gloves? Let's go for 30 seconds. Nah, go ahead and put socks on too. That'll add a minute. Forget towel-ing off. Towel-ing off is for sissies. Actually, it's for skinny bitches who are going to get cold on the bike. But I am Athena. I will not get cold. I will cram my wet feet into socks and jump on the bike and stick my Gu in between my two sports bras. That'll work... Ah, who cares...unlike in your silly one-discipline races, on a triathlon race results page, they break down your time in each discipline, and each transition! So if you are hacking up a lung and need to drink a whole Gatorade before continuing and it takes you 5 minutes to get onto the bike portion of your racing, you can kind of compartmentalize it to yourself and friends and just brag about the rest of your race. Hey. You finished. You may not have finished without that 5 minute Gatorade.
  • Focus on transitions after you race a few times.

Gearing up
So I have tried to purchase only one new piece of 'equipment' per year of racing. This has motivated me to keep trying for better results [so as to justify new purchase], as well as to learn from experience and fellow racers, what is really worth buying.  By no means is this list instructional! Just my own stupid logic:
Year 1: bike. Hybrid, because we weren't sure if I was going to do this again.
Year 2: bike gloves, bike pouch, bike shorts. Clearly need to improve biking.
Year 3: 'for real' athletic and ugly swimsuit. no more jiggle in the pool.
Year 4: tri suit. no more soggy pants on the bike.
Year 5: road bike of my very own + bike shoes. Bonafide spinner now.
Year 6: bike computer. Well, purchased for me. HUGE improvement. Also tried to buy a headband, but am still searching for the perfect one for my tiny skull.
Thinking ahead to Year 7: looking at wetsuit prices. Woosh. Nevermind.

Shiny new bikes. Me: Trek (Lexa). Hubby: Gravity.

Clearly the bulk of equipment purchases will be on the bike portion of your race. You can go nuts. People spend twice as much as what I spent on my whole bike, on the WHEELS! And I think this makes them like, twice as fast. Or maybe they are training more than me. Either way, I'm happy with my bike time : purchase price ratio.

  •  Equipment rentals can be your friend while you're learning if you like this or not

Oh, so then you go running at the end of it
My favorite saying before a race that I've half-trained for is, "I can always walk the run..." I'm not alone in this! I've heard runners say this, too, so that makes me feel extra justified. In the last two years I've tried to experiment a little with nutrition, and not necessarily in my daily life, but pre- , during, and post- training exercises, so that I can discover what will get me to the end without dragging. I'm also still learning how hard to push myself so that I can 'leave it on the field', but I'm still struggling with all of the above. I just mention all of this so you can be aware, it's definitely a component of the tri life.

  • Discover your strengths in-season and focus on your weaknesses in the off-season
For instance, I'm running my first half-marathon in a few weeks. I'm used to racing for 2 - 3 hours, but I've never run more than a 10k, and thatwas at the end of an Olympic distance tri. Should be interesting. I found a training plan at Shape magazine and have modified it thusly:

Philly Rock n Roll Half in 5 weeks
Week of Short Run Cross - Train Short Run Cross - Train  Long Run
Aug 12 [tri race this week] [tri race this week] 3 miles [tri race this week] 7 miles
Aug 19 3 - 4 miles swim 500m 5 miles spin class? 8 - 9
Aug 26 3 - 4 miles still deciding 4-5 miles short bike (8 miles) 10 miles
Sept 2 3 - 4 miles swim 500m 4-5 miles does shopping count?10 -12 miles
Sept 9 3 - 4 miles swim 500m 3 miles [not this week] RACE



Too ambitious as usual, but I'm enjoying one discipline for a few weeks. I've been saying I was going to focus on running in the Fall for years, so might as well be this year. At least I don't have to run in a bathing suit in front of 1000 people! Piece of cake.

And you? What do you have to add to my advice for the newbies? Keep in mind we were all attracted to the word "Slacker."

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