Scratching the Triathlon Itch
I was at the Chicago Cubs home opener today at Wrigley Field when a friend of mine starting giving me shit. Ed, who is a lovely, funny, and very smart man, told me that I really had quite a different view of “leisurely” activities than he does. I had mentioned that the upcoming 57 mile ride at Little Red would be pretty easy – all things considered – as there was only one really brutal climb, at Mile 54. Ed pointed out that “easy” was sitting in a green seat at The Friendly Confines, not pedaling through the mountains of Utah. And I had to agree.
But, if you’ve been struck by a desire to challenge yourself – or, to simply stay active – setting goals and trying to knock them down becomes a bit addicting. I know, because I can’t go through a Spring season without signing up for new races, and trying to plan my summer around trying just. one. more. race.
If you’ve been bitten by THAT bug, you may be one of the ten people who’s asked me in the past few weeks how to get started in triathlons. Perhaps I’m overstating the case, but all of the sudden, it feels like EVERYONE has found out about my favorite, secret sport.
And what’s not to love? Triathlon is a great starter sport. Aside from the mastering of three disciplines, and the sometimes overcomplicated lists of gear, if you can swim, bike, and run, this is a sport for you.
But say, for argument’s sake, that you’re new to triathlon, and want to train. Where should you get started? Do you need a training group if you’re only doing a sprint? Can you train and work – or even, travel – at the same time? And what about the gear?
In the next few posts, we’ll talk about some of the unique issues surrounding triathlon, but for today, I just want to share some online and print resources to help you understand the training approach, and how you might begin to accomplish a goal of completing your first tri.
Training Schedules and Guidance
When I first started doing triathlons in 1999, I pulled down a free, easy schedule from www.trinewbies.com . (at the time, it could fit in a single graph. It’s safe to say things have gotten a bit more detailed since then.) I think I used an 8 or 10 week schedule, which called for morning and evening workouts of less than 45 minutes each. I stuck to it, but not too close…and it got me through my first race.
If you want a more detailed read, combined with a training schedule, and some advice on how to avoid purchasing too much gear, check out Joel Friel’s book, “Your First Triathlon”. For less than the cost of dinner at your favorite restaurant, you’ll have a good guide to help navigate your new sport.
Do you travel for work? Find it hard to work in a workout? Looking for some additional detail about how to cross train (this is you, my running friends). If so, I’d highly recommend “Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week”. Sure, more than four hours will give you a better time, but if you’re working within some constraints (um, children?) this is a good book which will give you a ton of knowledge about core exercises and training, while letting you pick and choose from what you need.
Next up: finding a local training group – what to look for, and how to make the most of your training experience.
Until then, read up, and take a look at that summer schedule. I’ll just bet there’s a race with your name on it.