I’m back. I did my first sprint triathlon this past weekend. Other than the obligatory sore knee and golf ball sized knot in my calf I came away fairly unscathed. I realized though, standing at the starting line in my quasi triathlon gear of Nike running shorts surrounded by almost 500 people in wet-suits, I was not fully prepared.
First let’s go with the overall prep. I am in what I consider decent shape. This was the basis for my lack of specific training. I can swim, bike and run, and so I thought I would be around the middle of the pack, which I was. This is where there is the most room for improvement mentally. I could have done considerably better had I not considered biking to the beach on a fixie, “training”. I was 3 months into a new job, which cut into my perceived availability to a pool and yoga classes, my two main methods of endurance training. I’ve vowed to myself to do better in next year’s event. Here is a breakdown of how I did, and how I’ll do better.
Swim - 9:19 - Not bad. 22nd out of 46 in my heat (heat started by division based on age/gender). When I passed a handful of guys in the heat that started 3 minutes before mine I considered it a success. But there’s still room for improvement and I can probably shave between 45 and 90 seconds off of this time with some training and decreased bodyweight - which I’ll speak to later.
Goal next year - 8 minutes. Time saved - 1 minute.
Bike - 51:40 - This is where there is the most room for improvement. Averaging 16.5 mph got me 32nd in my division. Still not as bad as some and to get to 15th in my division I need to average at least 19mph. Some data points:
a) I had only 1 training ride on July 4th, more than two months before the race.
b) I was borrowing my father’s bike. He is 3 inches shorter than me on days that he wears shoes and I don’t. I was also borrowing his riding shoes. I was the only person I saw riding with laces, which cut into my transition time.
c) I dressed for ease of transition but didn’t consider the extent to which wind drag would affect my performance in the water or on the bike. I essentially planned my attire around running. I will be more mindful here next year. I believe clothing alone accounted for at least .5 mph on the bike, perhaps 15 seconds of the swim, maybe more.
Goal next year - 44 minutes. This will be the hardest for me to achieve and I will likely not be able to do it without investing in my very own road bike. Time saved - roughly 8 minutes
Run - 25:23 - This is the slowest I’ve run 3 miles since I can remember. Mainly because I limped for half of it. There is no excuse here though, I simply need to take better care of myself in the months leading up to next year’s event. If I do, I have no doubt I will be able to shave considerable time here.
Goal next year - 22 minutes. Time saved - just over 3 minutes
Mini Run and Transitions - I didn’t know what to expect for transitions or how much they affect the race, but it’s significant. Between the hill run from the lake to getting on the bike took me almost 3 and a half minutes. I was better than 29 people in my division for the hill run even walking a portion of it. But taking two minutes to put on my father’s lace-up cycling sneakers is too much. The top 15 finishers in my division had transition times between 43 seconds and almost 3 minutes. What one man can do, another can do.
Goal next year - 75 seconds for transitions, 75 seconds for hill run. time saved - 2 minutes.
I won’t be able to save the time I need by rolling out of bed and racing like I did this year. So how? A few things. For one I will train in the specific sports more. I took most of August off from weights with some wrist/elbow tendinitis that I am not anticipating next year. I am also carrying around about 10 extra lbs, be it muscle or not. I will need to be leaner to be faster. No specific goal here, and definitely not a weight goal. I need to simply drop bf% and will do so with a variety of weight training, nutrition, and my tried and true methods of intermittent fasting and Bikram yoga. Unfortunately I have a cap for the speed in which I can build muscle in my recovering knee so the weights will be carefully monitored. But still - double kettlebells!! And I will train for the bike the same way I generally would train for running - speed and hills. I’ve broken the training into 4 specific chunks:
1 - Recovery/Weight training - I need to stop running for a few months to fully recover whatever is ailing my calf. It’s not a pull, I’ve had that before. So massage isn’t out of the question here. I will spend probably until January just in this phase, adding in the occasional swim and yoga class to keep things fresh.
2 - Endurance - work up to longer runs and some speed/hill work. I’ll begin biking here too, probably March/April. With the weigh workouts this will be the most effective for bf%
3 - Sport Specific Training phase - biking, swimming, running, with the sole intent of beating my time by the stated amounts about. Those times would put me in top 15 for my division this year. The focus will be on strategy, endurance, explosiveness, and obviously staying healthy. By adding this onto the first 3 phases this should work.
4 - Weight management - ongoing, self-explanatory. I need to be at an optimal bf% to do well in the run. No sense in carrying around extra weight.