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.