New year, new thoughts. Time to look back at a year’s worth of workouts and races for my top 10 endurance sports lessons. I started last year in a big hole thanks to an interstate relocation and return to full-time employment. Essentially my off season never happened. I found myself struggling to start some meaningful training, lose some weight and pick out new races in unfamiliar territory.
My season consisted of three, count them, three races last year: Hartwell YMCA sprint in June, Greenville sprint in August and Beach2Battleship 70.3 triathlon in October. So the focus was on triathlon and running took a backseat. While I’m disappointed that I only raced three times, I definitely upped my game moving up from sprints to the half iron distance.
The Upstate of South Carolina has treated me pretty well so far. I’m beginning to know my way around and hope to do more training with area triathletes this year. So what did I learn last year? I’m glad you asked.
Cook Better, Eat Better, Live Better
12. There are amazing recipes available online. My favorite recipe from last year was Nutella protein bites from the Healthy Aperture blog. They are easy to make and versatile making a good on-the-go breakfast or pre- or post- workout snack.
Learn from mistakes. They don’t have to be yours.
11. I read several blogs and listen to a couple podcasts about triathlon and running. I’m always interested when everyday runners or triathletes are featured or the hosts share mistakes they made in training or races. Below are some excellent podcasts. I commend them to you. For some interesting blogs check the blogroll on my home page.
Tri Bikes Aren’t for Everyone
10. This will probably be my most controversial statement for the year. I’d really rather ride a road bike. I tried a triathlon bike last year, a 2009 Specialized Transition, and it just didn’t work for me. It got squirrelly with me a couple of times when I was in the aerobars, and I was done. I know I’m passing up some free speed and putting out more watts than absolutely necessary. But I’m happier and more stable on a road bike. So for now that’s how I roll. Please feel free to disagree and smile as you pass me. Most importantly, ride what works for you.
Get to Know Your Wetsuit
9. One of the best moves I made in my preparations for the Beach2Battleship 70.3 was the six or seven wetsuit swims I did in the weeks before the race. It really made a difference in my comfort and confidence levels during the swim. Take that shiny new wetsuit out for a few rides before your big race.
Swim Navigation = Free Speed
8. You hear a lot about free speed. Interestingly enough it usually involves buying something like an aero helmet or race wheels. Honing your sighting and swim navigation skills can definitely cut your swim times. I swam 1.4 miles at Beach2Battleship. I did the math. Swimming 1.2 would have been faster.
You Aren’t Home Again Until You Find a LBS.
7. If you’ve relocated during your tri career, you know that one of the first things you look for along with a gym, running trails and local triathletes is a good bike shop. A shop that offers excellent technical support, good information and people who will put up with oddballs like you. Thanks to Dave, Mark and Arden at the Speedshop for keeping me rolling.
CompuTrainer Classes Are a Plus
6. I’m about halfway through my second 8-week CompuTrainer class this winter. I have to say that I’ve enjoyed them more than I thought I would. Yeah, you do kind of show every week to get your butt kicked by a killer interval workout but there is something to be said for suffering with others being more fun than suffering alone in your garage. You meet other people. Sometimes you talk. Often you grunt in unison during the workout. Good times. Another plus if you’re a slow triathlete like me, is that you don’t get dropped like you would on some rides. So if you need some winter motivation, check out your local CompuTrainer studio.
Learn to Think of a Triathlon as One Event Not Three
5. My thinking on triathlon continues to evolve. My strategy used to be survive the swim, max out the bike and try not to crawl during the run. It’s an OK strategy for sprints but is not going to work too well for longer distances. It can be freakishly uncomfortable for sprints too. I’ve started dialing down my perceived exertion on the bike from 99% to about 90% and my runs are way more bearable. Now I’m trying to think more about setting up the run than maxing out the bike. So far it’s working better for me.
Running Strong Means Lifting Strong
4. If you like me have moved into that 50-something age group, you probably noticed that swim, bike and run workouts by themselves aren’t enough anymore. I’ve noticed it most in running. My run times were moving from slow to glacial. So I started work on strengthening my legs with weight workouts, drills and targeted rehab exercises. It’s early in the season but I am beginning to see positive results. See you in the weight room. I’m the chubby, older guy with blank expression and the red headband.
3. Well if #4 wasn’t depressing enough, I have another ray of sunshine for you. You probably need more core work. You’re welcome.
2. I go out too fast, a lot, repeatedly, almost always. I’m trying to stop. So this year I’ll be trying to achieve a negative split at all of my races. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
A Tri Coach Is a Good Investment
1. Last year I worked with Triathlon Coach, Jamie Church of TYB coaching for Beach2Battleship 70.3. It was my first half iron distance triathlon, and I felt like I needed all of the help I could get. He definitely pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself and gave me workouts that were different from what I done on my own. Most importantly he got me to the start line uninjured. Getting to the finish line from there was just a matter of a little luck and a lot of stubborn.