February 11, 2007

Watch your step, because I'm about to drop some knowledge on you all...

For those of you who don't know, last year was the first year I took triathlon training seriously. I had signed up for an Ironman race in Florida, forked over my $465 entry fee and wasn't going to let that money go to waste. Now I had raced triathlons before, just not so seriously. I had trained, but never with a purpose. It was always the month before a large race and I'd say, "hey I gotta get in shape, that RACE is coming up...". So needless to say, I learned a few things from last year and I hate to be cliche and get all retrospective on you all, but you better watch your step, because I'm about to drop some knowledge about what I learned in my rookie year.

First thing first, consistency is the key to EVERYTHING...I cannot stress this enough. To be able to get out there day after day after day, you need to be consistent in your training. Maybe this is a little different for shorter events, but I am focusing on the longer stuff right now (ie. half and full ironman distance races)

In the shorter races, the training is all about getting out there and going at XX intensity for YY amount of minutes with ZZ rest in between sets. And that's good if you want to do a short event, but in the ultra and long distance races, you just seriously need to get out there and get the miles in. Rain, hail, sleet, snow, or shine, you just have to make that daily deposit into the IRON bank. I have tried to be as consistent as possible and I put a lot of pressure on myself to get out there and train and just go. I use the 3 weeks of increasing mileage and one week of drastically reduced mileage. I wish I could publish my Excel spreadsheets of training logs that I used, but I don't know how to do that yet. Seriously, the only way to exceed even your own expectations is to just make training a priority in your life (this was a little easier for me since I don't have a wife, or family, kids or other things that might distract normal people)

The second thing I learned was that you should set achievable goals and even if you are hitting one of them in a race, sometimes it is good to push your body that little bit extra and see what happens. In several races last year, I got "the fire" back... In particular, Keuka was a large race where going into the run, I was like 6th or 7th overall...I ended up placing 3rd on the podium because I saw the two guys in front of me, not 50 yards in front, and I thought to myself, "is the next 8 minutes of pain worth it to get your first ever podium finish?" Long story short....it was. I almost threw up in the bushes shortly after finishing, but it was GREAT to shock the system and surprise even myself as to what I was capable of. I held 6:03 pace and the first mile of that 10k was a 5:52 I remember. Sometimes you need to dig down deep and see what you are made of. You may surprise yourself.

Now I know triathlons are getting REALLY expensive IRONMAN. And even the shorter races like sprints are breaking the wallet at $70 a pop, but if it is possible, race AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! First off, it's fun as hell, you meet tons of great people, you get lots of free swag and did I mention its fun?!?! That's the reason that I train so much is to get out there and have fun and not be suffering my arse off on race day. (I mean if you do it right, you will be in pain and suffering a bit, but I always race with a smile on my face...see photo below)

Lastly, the final piece of advice I will drop on you all is to buy a good bike. This is a great thing to do. I recently got into biking 3 years ago (ironically when I did my first triathlon) and I know I have improved by leaps and bounds. In several sprint races last year I was able to hold above 23 mph as an average for the bike leg, when in years past I was lucky to be able to hold above 20. At Florida this year for 112 miles, I even blazed into T2 with a 20+mph average speed for the bike.

Lance was not lying when he said it is all about the bike. Of course you should save some legs for the run, but blast the bike too. The BEAST (the '06 Cervelo P2C) is a great ride and I highly recommend it. Get a good bike fitting and an aero helmet too. (you will look like a dork, but your splits WILL be faster, I guarantee it.)

Well that's it for now, training has been uber consistent with me as last week was a 9.5 total training hour week (not counting the rock gym) and next week should be 10+, I'm feeling good about where I am now. I've been heavy on the run training and am at about 30 miles a week now running lots of hills in preparation for Lake Placid. We'll see if I get in, but I'm still going to be training like I'm already there. Take care everyone, I'm out, see you on the roads. Cheers.


Spokane Al said...

Thanks for the reminder and the validation of the value of consistency. I needed that.

Matt said...

Great post. I feel ya, although I'm closer to the 6-7 hours a week in training. Training is a blast, but the races are so much better. It's time to show off what you've been working on.