Tag Archives: lifting

Training Tuesday: halfway through TRI101

So last week marked the halfway point in the Fleet Feet TRI101 program. I can definitely see a big difference in my overall fitness level, although (as I learned on Sunday in the gym) I am not nearly as strong as I was when I was lifting regularly. This is in part due to the garbage diet I’ve been following; too many carbs, not enough protein, and probably too much fat to boot. That’s one of the things I want to focus on in the upcoming weeks as I start reintegrating lifting into my workouts. The bricks we’ve been doing at TRI101 class have been really helpful, too, along with the many small tips and tricks that the more experienced athletes and coaches have been sharing.

I continue to be tempted by signing up for more races, but at the same time I’m growing more nervous: my first real tri is in less than two weeks, and it’s hard to judge whether I’m ready for it or not. On the other hand, my friend Dana just ran her first sprint tri and finished 2nd in her age group— so it proves that even your first race can go well. My goals for the Shelburne tri are to not burn up all my energy in the swim. The bike ride is a longer distance than any I’ve done so far, so I’d like to finish that at my same ~15mph pace, and then get the run done in under 35 minutes. We’ll see how that goes.

The past week’s workouts:

  • Tuesday we bricked as part of our weekly class: 34:46 for 8.45mi on the bike plus a weak, slow 15:01 to run 1.41mi. As a bonus, I split my forehead open in transition and had to go get stitches, so I couldn’t swim for a little while.
    WP 20140617 003Like my old man always said: it’s not a project until blood has been shed
  • Wednesday I met up with a group of triathletes for a brick south of the airport. Damn, it was hot. 55:01 for 12 miles on the bike plus a super short 8:15 run of 0.8 miles. For some reason I didn’t get any cadence data from this ride. The reason turned out to be simple: the magnet that the cadence sensor senses fell off somewhere. I replaced it with several Buckyballs, which I stuffed into the pedal hole on the crank; a piece of electrical tape holds them securely in place and now I get cadence data again.
  • Thursday I skipped my normal morning run— after a race last Saturday, a long ride Monday, and bricks Tuesday and Wednesday I was ready for a break. I took Friday off too.
  • Saturday I volunteered at the Monster Tri. It was great fun; I saw a bunch of my tri friends and got a close-up look at how transition is supposed to work. I also took a bunch of pictures, some of which were better than others.
  • Sunday I dragged myself to the pool and swam ~ 500yd. I still don’t think my watch is counting swim laps right. Then I carried my tired self over to the weight room and got a lift in for the first time in about two months. I felt weak but good when done, and the DOMS I had yesterday and today is a small price to pay (especially since my glutes and hams were already sore before I even got there.)
  • Monday I geared up and went to downtown Athens for the 15-mile beginner ride that a group of local cyclists holds… but the weather wasn’t cooperating.WP 20140623 002

    Not acceptable weather for instrument flight or VFR bicycling

    Rather than get hit by lightning, I elected to go home. I didn’t even get to test the sweet handlebar mount I made for my watch so I can see cadence and speed data on the go: a trip to Home Depot yielded a piece of pipe insulation that was just right for holding it. However, I am confident that it will work.

     WP 20140624 004Nothing like a little Cajun engineering


Right now I’m hoping that the weather will clear so I can go on to TRI101, where we have a workout cleverly named “Rick’s Special” after our lead coach– it’s a 2 mi bike + 1 mi run brick, repeated as many times as possible. Should be fun!

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Welcome to Training Tuesday: Triathlon Time

Last summer, I went through a rough personal patch after moving here, and that motivated me to restart the exercise habits that had been so valuable when I was in Pensacola. Using Fitocracy regularly got me interested in lifting, which got me involved with the two coached programs I participated in (I’ve already written about them a bunch before, e.g. here). But I’d been thinking that I wanted to choose a goal race, so I decided to train for a sprint triathlon, as I mentioned in my 2014 goal list. As soon as registration opened, I signed up for the Huntsville Sprint, then signed up for the Fleet Feet TRI101 program. So far we’ve had the kickoff meeting; our first group class was cancelled because of severe weather, but I’ve started to work my way through the 16-week training plan. As I progress, I’ll be sharing more observations about the training and my progress, usually on Tuesdays (hence the “Training Tuesday” label).

First: I am super impressed by the Fleet Feet coaches and training program. I had heard that they were good, but I didn’t realize how good. They have been uniformly supportive, effective at motivating us, patient with questions, and generous with sharing knowledge. I don’t really know any of the people in my training group yet but there’s a great mix of ages, sizes, and prior experience levels; we’ve got some accomplished half marathoners and marathoners, some complete noobs, and lots of people in between. It’ll be fun getting to know my fellow future triathletes.

Second: I am a lousy swimmer. Yesterday I swam 400m freestyle in 16 minutes, 29 seconds. The current world record, set in 2012 by Yannick Agnel, is 3 min 32 seconds. So I’ve got some room to improve. However, I am improving. As our coaches like to point out, the only way to improve your swimming is to swim. You can’t buy gear to make you faster, and you can’t just bash your way through with increased effort. The TRI101 program includes four coached swims, where you show up at the pool and work with a coach; this has been really helpful so far but I may end up working on my own with a coach some as well. If I can keep my swim time around 15 minutes or less I’ll be happy; that seems like an approachable goal. My plan to get there is never to swim less than the 400m distance required for this first triathlon, and to go longer when I feel like it. We’ll see how that works out.

Third: there is a ton of gear that even a newbie triathlete needs that I didn’t have. Let’s start with a triathlon suit (which I still don’t have; I just got this racing swimsuit instead), which allows you to wear one suit in the water, on the bike, and on the road. Here’s one example. To prevent a reprise of my MEC appearance, though, I think I’ll be extra careful about posting photos of myself wearing the suit once I get it.

More prosaically, I needed a swim cap, which Fleet Feet provided as part of the class, and goggles. Since I didn’t have swim flip-flops, I bought a pair of those too. I already had a bike, with clipless pedals and appropriate shoes, but I needed a rack to carry it to and from riding locations, plus a reflective harness so I don’t get smashed by a truck. Even my trusty running shoes weren’t immune; I swapped to a pair of Lock Laces (motto: “Win, never tie”) to speed up transition times. Triathlons have two transition periods: T1 is when you move from the water to the bike, and T2 is when you move from the bike to the run. The transition areas have all sorts of rules to keep things more-or-less organized, and your T1 and T2 times are measured separately, so being able to jump out of the pool, run to your bike, walk it out (no riding in the transition area, of course), and then get on the road fast can make a big difference. I am thinking that my transition times are probably the least of my worries so I’m not planning on putting a whole lot of emphasis on buying stuff to shorten my times.

Fourth: this is not the same kind of bicycle riding I did as a kid. Riding in bike shorts feels like wearing a diaper, for one thing. Plus, maintaining a steady cadence takes practice and skill, because it involves shifting gears. Doing it while drinking from a water bottle is even harder. Throw in the fact that your feet are attached to the pedals and it can get tricky. Which reminds me, I should take my bike to have it fit— the seat, handlebar, and pedal positions on my bike can be adjusted to best fit my arm, leg, and torso lengths but I have no idea what the “right” settings are. Bike fits consist of getting on your bike on a trainer and riding it while the bike shop folks watch you, then they adjust a few things, then you ride some more; rinse and repeat. I like riding, and have even briefly entertained the idea that I might like riding a metric century, but I’m not quite to that point yet.

The current training schedule calls for 3 runs and 2 swims per week, with 2 off days; we’ll start working the bike into the schedule in a couple of weeks. Astute readers may note that I haven’t said anything about lifting so far; I plan to keep lifting on my two off days (or maybe on swim days) but will be sticking with the basic big lifts: deadlift (or variations), back squat, and bench press, with a few shoulder exercises thrown in for swimming. I intended Sundays to be brick days— a brick is the triathlon term for multiple-activity workouts, such as bike + run or swim + bike. I’ve gotten in one bike/run brick so far and plan to do them at least once a week, even before the schedule calls for them, but we’ll see how that goes.

Should be an exciting journey!

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