I have spent the last 26 years getting strong, and now at 42 for the first time ever I’m obsessed with an endurance sport. I know some people think fitness is fitness but that’s like saying a defensive lineman can play hockey because if you’re an athlete, you can play all sports! Honestly I’ve competed in powerlifting, learned kettlebells and taught at certifications. I’ve spent time mastering calisthenics and even tweaked that to add size and strength. I’ve trained people from 12 to 80 years old and anywhere from complete beginners to doctors and even a high level NFL athlete! But triathlon? That’s like the moon to me!
To say I originally underestimated the learning curve is like saying you underestimated addictive power of donuts. I took out a swimming only membership at a local fitness facility, jumped in the water and barely made it a half lap. I was stuck death gripping the wall gasping for air. After receiving several unsolicited tips from guys double my age that were swimming laps around me I decided I needed a lesson. My instructor, Megan is pretty cool. She really knows her stuff and has helped a ton. She broke everything down, working on my kicking first and showing me how effective fins can be when focusing on the kick. Then she turned her attention to my stoke by tying my legs together and demanding I swim across the pool! Seriously I thought I was going to drown… However after I relaxed, I was able to hone in on my arm stroke and create more efficiency through my timing, pull, and lats. Once I put everything together my efficiency, distance and heart rate improved immensely.
How hard can biking be? After all don’t we learn this skill as children? In fact everyone compares everything to riding a bike! Well, I spent the first couple months riding the black top trails on a mountain bike, busting my butt to maintain 14-15mph over the course of a 40 min ride. That sucked! Finally I decided I needed to pony up the money and purchase a triathlon bike. That thing is like riding a rocket! Plus I’ve never ridden in that position before or clipped in. I have to be honest, clipping in scares the crap out of me! I’m riding around 20mph leaning over the front wheel on aero bars and you want me to clip in too!? I realize I need just man up and do it. On the plus side this new rocket like bike has greatly improved my speed, duration and efficiency, plus my legs don’t take a beating. It’s awesome!
I see why they put the run last. Swimming you can drown, biking you can crash, but running you just walk or stop… and that’s what your mind keeps telling you to do! Running is the ultimate mental hurdle. In Jesse Itzler’s book, “Living With A Seal” he learned typically when you want to quit you’re really only at 40% of what you’re capable of. This was the biggest problem I had! Listening to my own huffing and puffing, the feeling of my heart pounding and the aching in my lower body made me want to quit. But how am I going to run an hour nonstop if I keep walking when I think I’m tired? The best way I found to overcome this was Andrew Read’s Walk/Run Program2.0. Simply brilliant! I quit thinking about trying to gut out a certain distance at a random speed and just focused on running for a particular block of time, and speed didn’t matter. At my beginner level trying to achieve a certain pace is like worrying about desert before I even get to the restaurant! This has allowed me to build up my volume and consistently improve technique.
At this point in my triathlon training I’m simply building my work capacity. I’m not worried about intervals, pace, sprints, or anything like that. I figure I have till the end of the year before I need to actually set up a program and train for the event I’ve chosen. Now is the time for me to get better at each endeavor and build a strong cardiovascular base. In other words, log the hours swimming, biking and running while listening to books on audio. Plus this allows me to simplify my strength training to the simple stuff I need. It’s amazing how much improvement you can make when you eliminate the fluff. I may have lost my mind, but I’m going to do a tri! I will get out of my comfort zone, learn a new skill and become a triathlete.