I’ve been thinking about doing a triathlon. As I sit and ponder this idea, I have visions of runners who are exhausted and collapse at the finish line. I see their faces twisted in a grimace of agony. I picture cyclists disappearing over a hilltop into the sunset. Swimming brings to mind a floppy hat and ice cold glasses of lemonade waiting on a table by a lounger with my towel and sun block. I’m not sure I have the right frame of mind to compete in a triathlon. Regardless, I’m determined to try it.
As I embark on my new adventure, I am prepared for an attitude adjustment. I don’t have to be the fastest runner in the world to accomplish my goal. My skills on a bike could help make up the difference of a slow run time. Keeping this in mind I begin my sprint, cycling and swim training.
Since my greatest weakness would be in the pool, I started there with my training. After doing some reading on what is considered good swim technique, I decided my wobbly ankles may not be such a drawback after all. All swim experts agree that ankle flexibility is key to keeping toes pointed and the body streamlined. If I can manage to develop good habits with my strokes, kicks and breathing, I just might stand a chance in the race. Since I am a beginner and not a strong swimmer, it’s nice to know that it’s not uncommon for racers to use multiple styles of strokes to complete this part of the triathlon.
Once I feel I’ve mastered my swim form, it is a good idea if I move my training location to a lake. That’s when it’s time to swap the swimsuit for the wetsuit. Lake training will involve using a “sighting” method to stay on course. I can’t forget about safety at this stage. It will be important to have a friend or loved one go with me while lake training. While I train, I will try to imagine the day of the race where I may be in the middle of a pack of strong competitors who will kick me, swim over me or punch me as we all work our way free to the front of the pack. Apparently this is a normal, accepted behavior in this sport. It sounds very exciting.
I must confess I look forward to bicycle training more than swim training. Since I’m not a mermaid, I am definitely more comfortable on dry land. I have a mountain bike I pedal around the park in. It fits me perfectly after being professionally fitted at my local bike shop. The right fit is important. It can avoid much unnecessary pain. Everything I’ve read has explained that this is the most important part of the race for improving time. Drafting is not allowed in a triathlon so you ride completely on your own steam. Experts recommend keeping a cadence of 75 to 100 revolutions per minute. I purchased an affordable meter that measures this for me.
Instead of running as much as I usually do, I now devote most of my training to cycling. I actually only train with my feet on the ground about twice weekly. I train on the bike and in the pool three times weekly. This may seem counterintuitive but the strength I will gain in my legs from all that cycling should make up for the fewer miles I log in runs.
I’m also looking forward for the opportunity to shop for a new wardrobe. According to testimonials from other triathletes my training should result in a brand new body. I should accumulate muscle mass and no longer have the skinny runner’s body I have now. I should become more powerful especially through my upper body, hips and glutes. In other words, I’m going to become quite ripped and be a powerhouse on the big day of my triathlon! Let the games begin!