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Triathlon Training

Posted by Marty Haught on Monday, February 07, 2011

Here’s my follow-up to my Triathlon Plunge post. If you haven’t read it and are curious for the story that led me to going for a triathlon please read it now.

One of the first things was to find a local program and coach to work with. Luckily the Longmont Recreation Center has a triathlon program and I talked with the man that organizes it, Jim Hallberg. After meeting with Jim, I decided that he would be a good coach for me. It’s been two months since that point and I’m very happy to have chosen a coach. There are so many things that I didn’t know about triathlons and Jim has been a great guide for all of them. He has kept my training level just right as well as helped me with my technique.

My training regimen started out fairly light. I’m doing roughly 2 runs, 2 bikes, 2 swims and 2 core workouts a week. The runs vary from 30 minutes to an hour. The bikes usually are an hour though some of my long rides have been closer to 2 hours. Swim and core workouts are all an hour. Core is a group class which makes it much easier to go a full hour doing strength and conditioning. The swims are a class as well called Beginning Masters. Megan, the coach, gives us a solid hour long workout and will give stroke instruction if asked. This is perfect as I can slowly improve my stroke while getting a great workout.

When you add up all my weekly workouts I’m averaging around 7-9 hours of training time. Though December wasn’t quite that consistent due to many factors, January has been solid. In a month that level of workouts have made a noticeable mark. I definitely feel more fit and my workouts are getting easier. I can also visibly tell I’m toning up my muscle mass. As we move closer to spring I’ll likely move into the 12-15 hours per week but I doubt I’ll go much more above that. I do have a family, work and social life to maintain. The great thing is Jim is really into effective training even if you can’t log 20+ hours a week. So I’ll be looking forward to being as smart as possible with my 12-15 hours.

Though I didn’t set out to lose weight or even have it as an important metric, I did end up losing 5 pounds in January. When you log that many workout hours per week, especially the ones heavy on cardio, you’re going to burn a lot of calories. It’s definitely the trend and goal for many triathletes to shed as much weight as seems healthy. I suspect I’ll still lose a bit more weight though I don’t want to lose more than 5 more pounds.

One really cool thing about my workouts is I’m using my new GPS Garmin watch to track my run and bike workouts. I bought a Garmin 405 after the new year. I’ve loved using it. You can actually check out my data here. It comes with a heart rate monitor so I can track calories burned as well as how hard I’m working on these workouts. I love the data. Not every workout is in there though. Most of my bikes are done on a trainer in my basement. A trainer, for those that don’t know, is a cool device that your bike locks into to let you pedal like normal and feel a realistic road resistance. I bought the CycleOps Fluid 2. Weather does limit what I can do but I have to say, I’ve never noticed how many 40-50 degree days we have in January. Colorado’s Front Range really does make it much easier to do many of these workouts outside than I would have imagined.

I’ve got my first race in May so I have another 4 months to go. Since I’m only going to do a sprint and olympic distance triathlons, I don’t need to be able to go really long distances. If I stick with this for another year I’ll consider doing a half ironman. For now much of my training is getting faster and stronger and not just able to go for longer distances. So far the interval training is making a difference. I can already feel it’s easier to maintain a faster pace than I used to with less work. What’s also excited is Jim hasn’t worked too much on my technique yet so there will be adjustments to allow me to race faster on less effort simply from a technique standpoint. I’m really excited to see where this will lead.

One final thought I have is on exercise in general. I feel so much better with regular exercise in my life. It’s really true that it will make you healthier and I believe happier. Everyone should be doing some sort of exercise. Though you don’t have to get crazy and dive into triathlons, you should do something. I’ve been really impressed with fitness swimming as one such way. The recent passing of Jack Lalanne made me think about this more. He was on a crusade to get all of us exercising with some sort of fitness. I get it. I agree and I think I will do better committing to some level of fitness for the rest of my life. I hope you do too.

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