Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Triathlon Training

By: Janell

Recently, I have started to train for my second triathlon. Girls Run the 901 will be participating in a few Start 2 Finish triathlons this summer including the Mightymite Triathlon, the Annie Oakley triathlon, and possibly more! I have found that for me the training is much more enjoyable than just running during the summer. With shorter runs and incorporating biking and swimming into my training it lends itself the rising temperatures in Memphis. I am also thankful to be on my bike when I encounter critters (like the snake I saw the other day) that come out when it's warm! 

Additionally,  I feel that training for a triathlon has great benefits for your body in incorporating more than a single sport. Running tones your legs and stomach, and burns a lot of calories while swimming concentrates on toning your upper body, working your chest, shoulders, and back.  Swimming also greatly increases your lung capacity and helps circulation, surprisingly just as much as running.  Biking builds and defines your legs. 

For me, I follow a training schedule made by Lesley Brainard. She is an All American triathlete and an amazing coach. I attended her swim classes last year when I did the Memphis in May Sprint triathlon and will attend this summer. One of her many strengths is swimming so who better to take a swim class from? Seriously, if you are interested in improving your swimming skills, even just a little bit, I highly recommend her class. She will take you from square one and work with you at your pace. Swim for me will always be my challenge and while I can feel myself being more relaxed in the pool, it will always take a little more time and practice.

My weekly workouts look something like a 60 minute swim drills, and hour or so bike, a run, or a run and bike (brick-a term I learned because of how your legs feel while trying to run after a bike!). 

We have also have a group of girls who plan to meet and train together to get some experience in open water and transitioning from swim to bike and bike to run. What a great way to learn new skills and meet new people.

Here are a few tips when training for your first triathlon:
  • When training for your swim, make sure you go a little farther then your needed distance.  You will definitely have confidence then.  Swimming can be scary - especially if one can't touch or see the ground.
  • Remember, you can resort to your 'easy' swim stroke if need be such as the side or the breast stroke.
  • Do some open-water training if possible.  At least 1-2 times prior to racing.  Open water swimming will be more challenging.  Just make sure you have somebody looking out for you if you get into trouble.
  • Like the swim, do a few bike or runs over the distance needed.  Confidence again.  Try racing a duathlon OR race a 5 or 10K run.
  • Make sure to do a few 'brick' workouts several weeks before your first tri.  These will help you immensely for the bike to run (T2) transition.  For more on 'bricks', see Bricking It
  • Try to get familiarized with the course.  If you can, obtain a map of the course days beforehand.  Optimally, train on the different parts of the course before the event.  Don't do all the events on the same day, but separately.  If you can't train on the course before the tri, then at least drive and walk most of it.  Just being familiar with the course will rid you of a lot of butterflies.
  • Either at home or at the course, try to mentally visualize your set-up at the transition areas and how your sequence of doing things in each transition area.  This is key or you will blunder through the transitions losing unnecessary minutes.  Write your transition steps down on paper will help you.
  • Don't train hard the last two weeks before the race.  It's too late for improvement.  You can see this during the last few weeks of my Sprint Training Program and the Olympic Program
  • Get plenty of sleep several nights before.  (You should always be doing this though)
  • Do not change your diet before your first triathlon.  Keep things exactly the way they were during training.  Some people ask me if they should carbo-load a few days before.  NO!  Eat like you always do.  Do not try to pull a change-up to your system.  You are doing a Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon.  You should have plenty of energy reserves so long as you haven't been starving yourself.  When you move up to Half or Full Ironman, then you might consider a pre-race diet.
  • Check out the USAT Triathlon Rule Book.  Very detailed, probably a lot won't pertain to the beginner BUT has some good ideas.  Probably would be a good idea to get a rule book for your particular triathlon (if not a USAT sanctioned event)
  • Above all, REMEMBER:  If it is not broke, do not try to fix it.

    Article found here. 

    Here is another great article from Runner's World for tips as well!

Ready to race your first triathlon? We would love for your to join us in training and and at the race. Let us know if you are interested!


  1. Great tips! Best of luck in your training endeavors.