Sometimes it takes years to make things simple. Anxious over the endurance aspect of sprint triathlons, my workouts became laser-focused on volume. My thinking was based in logic. My max distance has always been a 5K. My fastest ever was a 16:48 at Franklin Park, Boston in high school. The triathlons I was running, however, took about an hour and twenty minutes. I had to make sure I transformed my engine into one that could rev its way through an hour-plus workout. What’s more, though I did four years of cross country in high school, running about 42 miles per week, I had followed that up with four years of decathlon in college. That means I’m a lot closer to heavy squats, sprint workouts and miniscule mileage than to my past years as a long distance runner.
I needed to make sure I swam, biked and ran for enough time and distance. But it’s clear, looking back, I gave short shrift to speed workouts. The proof: Last year, a post-triathlon 5K where I finished slower than the year before. My triathlon race, time and finish was proof that I had put in enough work in 2015. It was my best triathlon yet. But the 5K run two weeks later showed me how I couldn’t hit the next, higher gear to run a fast (for me) 5K. Looking back, I hadn’t done enough speed workouts on the track, roads or hills. I hadn’t pushed the intensity during swim workouts or bike rides. It’s no wonder my body felt stagnant and unable to push a pace I needed to run a fast 5K.
So the goal this year is to be more of athlete. Put in more speed workouts. Hit the incredibly uncomfortable redline where quitting seems the only option. Throw in some light Olympic lifts, too. It’s working, so far. A hill workout and a Fartlek run reminded me that adding speed makes workouts more interesting and fun. Plus, it’s not like you’re leaving mileage or cardio on the table. You’re incorporating it into a better training program.
Very excited to have finished 56th in the 2015 Kinetic Sprint triathlon. I've done the triathlon three years in a row. The new aero bars clearly worked out well for the bike portion this year. My 2015 swim was one minute slower than 2014 because I got boxed in, which took a toll on the final swim time. The 20:32 5K was tough, but gave me the 20th fastest run of all 568 finishers. The race was made up of a 750 meter open water swim, a 15.5 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run.
After a brief hiatus, which included an extended period with little training, I've recently increased my biking/running/swimming in preparation for a May 10 triathlon. I'm most excited about this new piece of hardware from Redshift Sports. These removable aero handlebars are half of the Switch Aero System. The aero bars are truly quick-release, which is awesome for when I don't need them. I went to a dedicated triathlon shop planning to buy aero bars to turn my natural fit road bike into a better racing machine. I was prepared to buy any product they had on the shelf. The employees at the tri store excitedly highlighted the Redshift product as newly on their shelves. I paid $180 for the aero bars, plus $20 to have them installed (well worth it, in my opinion). I have yet to buy the seat post, but I probably will eventually.
Apple Watch will sell like crazy, there's no doubt about that. I've been shocked at how great the screen looks in pictures. But for fitness enthusiasts, there are a more intriguing options. I've recently started using the Garmin Vivoactive ($250) and it's been a revelation. It has GPS, is waterproof and has a battery life of up to a few days (even while using GPS). It is a smart watch, too. You get simple notifications, like texts. It's been incredibly useful to track workouts and the online software, Garmin Connect, has a ton of useful details. It's true, Apple could add GPS to its future watches, making the Vivoactive a little less competitive by comparison. But Garmin already has some amazingly advanced watches, including the Garmin Forerunner 920 XT ($450). It certainly seems to earn the description of "the most advanced multisport watch ever." In the end, the competition will be great for athletes. I plan to use the Vivoactive at least for the bike portion of my triathlon this Sunday.
At 8:59 a.m. this past Mother’s Day, I was standing on the beach at Lake Anna in Spotsylvania, VA, surrounded by dozens of other men who, like me, were wearing black wet suits and purple swim caps. I stared at my waterproof Timex. The digital seconds passed by. I nervously pressed my goggles hard against my face to make sure they were secure. At 9 a.m. sharp, a loud horn blared, quickly followed by a mad splash into the cool water. My second-ever triathlon had begun. There was no time to enjoy the pristine spring weather. I had 750 meters to swim, 15.5 miles to bike and 5 kilometers to run.
Second ever triathlon is in the books. Slashed 3 minutes off last year's time. I improved the swim and bike, as well as both transition times. Slightly slower in the 5K. This was only a sprint tri, but it's draining. Took 1 hour, 27 minutes to complete. One takeaway: open water swimming is awesome.
Happy to take swim form advice. This is me recently in the pool, after a steady routine of trying to learn better form. Triathlon is this Sunday. So the swimming technique I have now will have to do.
A collection of some of the gear I use. Yesterday, got a flat bike tire about a half mile away from my place. Slipped off the bike shoes and walked along the edge of the street the rest of the way home. One week from today I'll be racing.
Here's my first ever pair of bike shoes. Pedals were about $100, shoes about $120. Just booked a wetsuit rental for $50. As you can imagine, triathlons get costly. However, I've needed the shoes for a while. I think that a sore achilles I've had was caused by riding in sneakers (with bike clips). The rigid plastic bottom of these shoes seems to take the pressure off my achilles during the ride today. Yesterday, I did an untimed 3 mile run that had to be my fastest and smoothest in the past three months. Another note: I've been in the pool around 21 times since early January. Last year, I swam a total of 3 times before the triathlon.
Yesterday, caught a Nats game in amazing weather. Couple days before, did a bike/run double and the legs felt great. Right off a 47-minute bike ride, my legs were fresh as I did a quick run for 16 minutes. Very good sign closing in on race day. Hit 47 miles per hour on the bike, according to my Strava app. Sheesh, that is crazily fast (and I know people go much faster). Just bought a new pair of bike shoes and my bike is getting a full tune up. And today, did a 5 miler in excellent weather at a brisk pace. Photos of all the equipment I have are coming soon.