Thursday, August 29, 2013

Triathlon for dummies. Or beginners, whatever.

I wanted to give a quick run-down of what my 6 week "express" training looked like for the iTRYathlon.

Obviously going into the training, I was comfortable running. I was okay-ish on the bike - as in, I could usually ride without falling. It wasn't fast, or pretty. But I didn't crash most of the time. I was terrified at the swim. I could swim enough to play in the pool, and could get around leisurely, but I did not have any real familiarity with proper freestyle form at all.

Tri La Vie was a HUGE help for me when trying to figure out how to prioritize my time, when all I really wanted to do was run.

 photo null_zps6475a630.jpg
This has nothing to do with the training, but I think the sticker makes the bike look official, no?

What my weeks looked like, by mileage and time, with links to more in-depth recaps:
Week 1: 5:30 in training; 19 miles running, 8.3 mi bike
Week 2: 6:42 in training; 22 miles running, 7 mi bike, 65 min swim
Week 3: 8:25 in training; 26 miles running, 22.3 mi bike, 50 min swim {this week was heavy in the time spent, but mostly because I had a loooong terrible trail run in there}
Week 4: 5:54 in training; 14 miles running, 10.8 mi bike, 96 min swim
Week 5: 7:59 in training; 27 miles running, 19.8 mi bike, 68 min swim
Week 6: 2:52 in training (taper/not incl race day); 6 miles running,  40 min run

For a sprint tri, I'm clearly heavy on the run - but I'm building my base/beginning marathon training, so I built mileage throughout the last 6 weeks (with one cut-back week plus my extensive taper week).

Another new trick in my arsenal is strength training. I really, really feel like the strength training has helped me build my speed back up. I did two or three days of Tank Top Arms, Ten Minute Core, and random other videos every week (those two are my favorite).

I've always struggled fitting cross training into my run schedule. What this tri schedule has shown me, is 1. I can fit it in when I want to, and 2. it REALLY REALLY helps. I have felt great this whole time. Week three was kind of tiring, but it was mostly a mental exhaustion - I struggled a lot initially with the swim, and just trying to keep the motions all straight was hard for me. Physically, thought, I've felt really good. The shin pain that I have always fought seems to have disappeared. The swim seems to help work out the muscle aches from running and biking.

It's almost as if there's REALLY something to all this "Cross Train hooray!" business.

Random thoughts:

  • A sprint tri is TOTALLY DO-ABLE if you have even a tiny amount of fitness. For real.
  • Be ready to work the most on the sport that is hardest for you.
  • It's exhausting. Coach Martha with Tri La Vie said to expect that - and at one point I sent her a panicky email about how exhausted I was in week 2, and how was I possibly going to maintain this. In that email, I wrote, "PHYSICALLY, I feel totally fine.". Do you know what that means? It means shut up and train.
  • I do not understand how people with jobs train for anything more than a sprint tri.
  • Tri forces you to be more organized. There are so many things involved, you have to keep things in line and set up, so you're not wasting time getting your isht together all the time.
  • Practice transition. It SOUNDS in your brain like, take off sunglasses and garmin, grab goggles, run, would be simple enough to manage. But when you're actually IN transition, things go crazy.
  • Don't worry too much about going fast on the swim - I think not drowning, and swimming controlled, is more important. Not dying should always be one of your goals.
  • You do NOT need a fancy bike. I started training with The H's bike (a hybrid, that I want to say cost more than I thought it did - maybe $500?), then bought my own - also a hybrid, for under $300. It wasn't necessary, it was mostly convenience - #1 can use it for getting to cross country practice, since The H rides his bike to work. But I was totally fine on my non-road bike. I saw people on beach cruisers on the course.

All in all, it was really a fantastic experience, and I will do it again - I will probably stick to pools or lakes, because sharks.

Working with Tri La Vie was great - there were athletes of all levels in the group, of all ages. The training program I joined was the 6-week Express iTRY training group, which offered weekly group training on Saturday's (2 weeks focused on swim, 4 weeks focused on run/bike/combination thereof), a weekly training plan, weekly optional drop-in swim training, and other optional weekly training sessions (run form, bike clinic, etc). Coach Martha definitely works the group with a sense of purpose - be there on time, pay attention, be focused, don't whine and make excuses. This is the type of coaching that REALLY works for me, because my default setting is "Lazy".

TLV offers several group training programs year round, as well as these specific programs for the fall

The program cost for TLV training varies, but it's all listed on the website. The price includes a training plan, group training sessions, skill-based training, a TLV tech shirt, and discounts to select local retailers (I bought my bike from Two Wheels One Planet and took advantage of the TLV discount there).

While the tri training is for women only, they also offer a trail running series that is open to men and women.

iTRY group

For a beginner, or someone with experience looking to improve in triathlon, TLV would be a great benefit to you. I followed Coach Martha's training plan (adding additional runs for my own purposes), and it didn't just get me TO the start line, I exceeded my expectations. While my swim was slower than I would have liked, I was confident and smooth in the water, which I find more important than just flinging myself through quickly. I finished the day feeling strong, and credit that entirely to TLV.

While I was provided the training at no cost through Renegade Racing and TLV, all opinions are my own - I had a lot of fun taking on the new sports, and the training really worked for me. 


  1. You ALMOST make this sound fun enough to try.


  2. You are so kickass it's not even funny.

  3. Congrats! Welcome to the triathlete club! And, yes, tri requires ridiculous amounts of organization, from stuff to scheduling, but, imo, its all worth it! :)

    PS - the sharks in the ocean aren't interested in people. none of the sea creatures really are :)

  4. This triathlon training guidelines should serve as something like skeletal frame in order for you to flesh out your own set of goals and conditions.

    training for a triathlon

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