What to expect from triathlon training
If I said, ‘just go swim, bike, run and you’ll be ready for your first triathlon,’ I’d be discrediting the complexity of the sport. I’ll explain what to expect from each discipline. There is an enormous amount to grasp when you start triathlon training. You’ll either love it, or it’ll be cringe worthy and not for you…..but at least you’ll know how it works.
A pool session can be completed in either a 25m or 50m pool or in open water. Most of your training will be done in the pool, but don’t under estimate the importance of open water swims. The distance you are training for will determine the length of your swim sessions. At Tri Life our swim sets are broken into a warm up, main set and cool down. The training block you are in will ascertain the type of swim training you’ll mostly perform. For example, Base 1 would be largely drill, strength and muscular endurance swim sets with focus on drill and technique and pull, paddle, band work. Where as in the Peak phase will see greater speed and anaerobic sessions. Expect to jump in and follow the black centre line initially twice per week building to 3 times once you’ve established a solid swim base.
Overcoming fear of the open water is the most common concern for newbie triathletes. Open water sessions should be conducted in safe swimming zones with others. It is alright to be a little unsettled about your first open water session. The first time, like anything, is always the hardest. However, with practice it will begin to feel more comfortable. Open water sessions focus on beach starts, sighting, swimming in packs, deep water starts, drafting, porpoise driving, treading water, exiting the water and swimming in a wet suit.
Back on dry land and onto the bike. Your bike skills will take time to master. Mounting, dismounting, clipping in, cornering, getting into an aero position, gear changing, braking, full pedal stroke, group riding, safety etc. Safety is paramount. Understanding how to use your bike and road safety etiquette will keep you upright. Use the bike lane and always feather the brakes at intersections, roundabouts, on the down hill and near pedestrian crossings. Don’t ride the freeway unless you know its legal to do so. Know how to change a tyre or ride with someone who does. Have your bike fitted with a flat tyre kit including small pump. Always carry your phone and wear your wrist id. If heading out in the dark use a front and rear light and wear reflective gear if possible. Expect a sore crutch and saddle sores. Gotta love this sport!
At Tri Life once you have the skills you’ll do isolated leg drills, practice one handed riding, cycle on flat to undulating terrain, complete seated and out of the saddle hill repeats, aerobic endurance rides, strength, tempo and threshold efforts and of course easy coffee peddles. Expect to cycle 2 -3 times per week. If you have a wind or electric trainer, wet weather will not impede your training schedule.
The third discipline is not just about turning the legs over. Running at the back end of a triathlon is very different to straight out running. Straight off the bike and into the run will have your legs feeling heavy like they are filled with cement. You’ll run faster then you think. It will feel strange at first. In training, brick runs are the stacking of two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other with minimal to no interruption in between. Brick runs will condition you to running straight off the bike.
At Tri Life we deliver drill based, aerobic base building, mixed paced, fartlek, hill strength, cadence, brick and negative split runs. Using a treadmill for some sessions keeps it interesting and excellent for certain hill or speed workouts. Expect to run 3 times per week.
Enlightened? Frightened? Excited? Either way, train with the fitness you have, not with the fitness you want.