303Beginner Tri Project – Training 101: Bare Essentials

by Alison Freeman

 

I firmly believe that ANYONE can do a sprint triathlon. And you don’t necessarily need a coach, a training plan, or 10 hours a week to prepare for it, either. But you’ll have a more enjoyable experience if you do some training prior to race day. Here are some general training guidelines that will set you up for success at a sprint triathlon:

 

– Whatever your starting point – the couch, the peak of fitness, or somewhere in between – start your training exactly there and build up your workout frequency and duration gradually. Jumping into a six-day-a-week training plan if your most recent marathon was Netflix-related is not the road to success as much as the road to getting injured.

 

– Endurance is built on consistent training, week after week, so build up to a training frequency that includes two swims, two bikes, and two runs each week.

 

– Increase your longest swim, bike, and run distances with the goal that your longest swim, bike, and run are at least 20% greater than the race distance. For a standard sprint triathlon, that means swimming 950 meters, biking 14.5 miles, and running (or walking or jogging) 3.75 miles.

 

 

– Make sure to include recovery in your plan! You need to give your body time to “absorb” the fitness that you’re building. Even when you’re firing on all cylinders, make sure to have one workout-free day each week. (And that does not mean go ahead and climb a 14er. That means sit on the couch.) Additionally, every 3-4 weeks should be a recovery week that has 20-30% less overall workout volume than the weeks prior.

 

– Give yourself several opportunities to run immediately after biking, even if it’s only for five or ten minutes. Your legs will not cooperate the first time you try this – which is why that should not be on race day. The more often you do it, the easier it will feel. (By the way, this type of workout is typically called a “brick,” which comes from BRC: bike and run in combination.)

 

– If you can find a good location for it, do a race simulation day – swim then bike then run – three weeks before the race. A metric version of your race distances (about 60% of the actual distances) is a good approach. This race day simulation will provide some good experience, like how it feels to bike when dripping wet, and will also give a great confidence boost before race day!

 

– Your biggest training week should be three weeks prior to the race (the week that concludes two weeks prior to race day). After that, you DO want to continue training so that you don’t lose all the fitness that you worked so hard to achieve! Two weeks prior to the race decrease your overall training volume by 40%. The week prior to the race, do a short swim (or two), bike, and run, and stay off your feet as much as possible.

– Be sure to incorporate training on terrain that is comparable to your race location. If your race swim is in a lake or reservoir, be sure to find some opportunities for open water swimming. If your bike and/or run courses are on trails or have some big hills, hit those up in training as well.

 

 

If reading all of that gave you a headache, and you now feel more confused about triathlon training than you were this morning – just swim, bike, and run. You’ll be fine!

 

303Beginner Tri Project: If I Wanna Tri, What Do I Need? What DON’T I Need?

by Alison Freeman

 

If you, your friend, your sister, your neighbor, or your mom is thinking about doing their first triathlon, here’s everything you need and everything you don’t:

1. You DO need to pick a race! And you need to sign up. Don’t think; just do it.

The 303 Beginner Tri Project recommends five beginner-friendly races:

The Longmont Tri / Longmont Try-a-Tri on June 2nd/3rd (pool swim!)
The Lookout Mountain Tri on June 30th (pool swim!)
Tri Boulder
on July 21st

Bounder Sunset
on August 25th
The Oktoberfest Sprint on September 23rd (fair warning: this one can be chilly!)

2. You DO want to find a person or a community that you can turn to for encouragement, accountability, questions, and support.

Join the 303 Beginner Facebook Group ! The group is for those new to triathlon, and is a place to share encouragement, whining, setbacks, and accomplishments. Coach Alison Freeman of D3 Multisport will be providing training guidance for the races listed above and is available to answer questions and provide guidance along the way.

3. You DO need to know how to swim; you DON’T need to know how to swim freestyle. Any which way you want to get though the swim portion of the event is just fine: freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke, doggie paddle, whatever. Sorry, those little arm floaties are not allowed (that’s why they make wetsuits – they’re practically flotation devices).

4. You DO need a swimsuit (for training) and goggles; you DON’T need a wetsuit … although it’s worth thinking through how much you enjoy cold water. If you’re not partial to it, your local multisport shop likely rents wetsuits, and there are bargains galore online for purchasing one if you don’t want to think about what the last person to rent the wetsuit might have done in it. (Don’t judge, though, everyone does it.)

5. You DO need a bike and a helmet; you DON’T need a “tri bike” or clip in shoes. Absolutely any bike will do: road bike, gravel bike, mountain bike, cyclocross bike, your standard cruiser with a basket and tassels, your kids’ bike, whatever. Just no e-bikes, cuz: really.

6. You DO want a way to carry water while on your bike, and you want to be comfortable taking sips of water while you’re riding.

7. You DO want to train so that you’re in shape enough to swim, bike, and then run or walk the designated distance. You DON’T need to be fast. (That should have been obvious when I said “run or walk.” Really, you can walk.)

8. You DO need something that you can wear from start to finish, cuz they don’t approve of public nudity in the transition area (that’s where you “transition” from swim to bike and then from bike to run); you DON’T need a fancy tri kit – an outfit that is specifically designed for swim-then-bike-then-run. You can swim in a bathing suit then pull bike shorts on top for the bike and trade for run shorts for the run. Or you can just wear the swimsuit. In which case you might want some bodyglide.

9. You DO want a bag or milk crate or duffel that will carry everything you need to the race start, and then home again after. Triathlon involves a lot of gear.

10. Finally, you DO want to enjoy it! All of it: the learning and the training and the nervousness and the excitement and – most of all – the finish line.

303Beginner Tri Project: So You Wanna Do a Tri …

by Alison Freeman

You’ve thought about it, talked about it, hemmed and hawed about it, and you’re ready to dive in. Or maybe you’re still testing the waters, sticking a toe in and seeing how that feels before you make a decision. Either way, you might be wondering: How exactly do I get started on the road to my first triathlon?

 

1. Swim, bike, and run. Just get started – or continue – with each of these activities. You don’t need a plan or a goal or an agenda for any given workout, just do something. ANYTHING. That way when it’s time to think more formally about how much you need to swim, bike, and run to complete a tri you’re not starting from the couch.

 

 

2. Talk to people! Talk to anyone you know who’s ever done a triathlon. Ask them what they like(d) about it, what was hard about it, what they’d do again in a heartbeat, and what they wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Believe me, there’s nothing triathletes love more than talking about triathlon, and their experiences in particular, so that hard part won’t be getting them started – it’ll be getting them to stop.

While you’re at it, talk to a few people who’ve never done a triathlon. Tell them you’re thinking about doing one, and then enjoy the admiration they send in your direction. They’ll think you’re amazing, and you haven’t even done anything yet!

 

3. Read anything you can get your hands on related to triathlon. Websites (303Triathlon.com, duh), magazines (“Triathlete,” double-duh), books (“Your First Triathlon” by Joel Friel, need I even say it?), and any of the million and one blogs out there about triathlon. In fact, I bet you know someone who does triathlon and has a blog – one in every (insert very small number) of triathletes has one. Or at least publishes race reports. Hell, even I do. Read them all.

 

4. Brush up on the lingo. USAT and IRONMAN’s Time to Tri initiative has published a handy glossary which is a great place to start. That way, when you’re reading all those blogs you’ll understand what they’re talking about.

 

 

5. Once you’ve spent a little time talking and reading and doing, step back and consider what you may want your involvement in the sport to look like. Are you a one-and-done, bucket list triathlete? Totally fine, you’re in great company. Are you a five-races-a-year-till-I-croak triathlete? Also fine, you’re in great company. Somewhere in between? Guess what – you’re in great company.

 

No matter what level of involvement you’re currently considering (I use the word “currently” very deliberately – just like college majors, there’s a reasonably probability that your thinking will change over time), that thinking will inform how invested in the sport you want to be as you get started. I personally was all in from day one, as was evidenced by regular visits from the UPS man, bearing gifts of triathlon gear. But that’s how I roll. If you’re more in the one-and-done or the wait-and-see camp, then you’ll want to start backpedaling immediately when your triathlete friends launch into lists of gear you need in order to take part in the sport. YOU DON’T. But more on that next time …

 

If you, your friend, your sister, your neighbor, or your mom is thinking about doing their first triathlon, keep an eye on 303Triathlon.com for future beginner-focused columns. Also, join the 303 Beginner Facebook Group! The group is for those new to triathlon, and is a place to share encouragement, whining, setbacks, and accomplishments. Coach Alison Freeman of D3 Multisport will be providing training guidance for the races listed above and is available to answer questions and provide guidance along the way.

Tri Coach Tuesday: Announcing the 303Triathlon Beginner Tri Project

 

Inspired by the USA Triathlon and IRONMAN “Time to Tri Initiative,” 303Triathlon is excited to launch the 303 Beginner Tri Project. As with the Time to Tri Initiative, the goal of the 303 Beginner Tri Project is to attract new athletes – and new people who don’t realize that they are athletes! – to the sport of triathlon.

Alison Freeman, 303 Triathlon Staff Writer and USAT Certified Coach with D3 Multisport, will publish regular columns specifically focused on information helpful to beginners, answering basic questions about equipment, training, and racing. Alison will also be moderating the new 303 Beginner Tri Facebook Group, a community where new triathletes can post questions, accomplishments, setbacks, and encouragement.

Within the 303 Beginner Tri Facebook Group, we will focus on a series of beginner-friendly triathlons throughout the season. Alison will post workout goals and key workouts leading into select races, and group members are encouraged to work together to accomplish those goals!

If you are interested in toeing the start line of your first triathlon, or know someone who is (or should be!), please join the 303 Beginner Tri Facebook Group and keep an eye on 303 Triathlon for our first beginner column next week.