Triathlon Training: I’m Feeling Less Than Mortal
Over the past two years, I’ve competed in three sprint triathlons, but my times haven’t improved very much. So I’ve decided to take a different approach to training. By that I mean I intend to actually train now. Normally I would wait until a month before the race to start flailing away in the pool. I’d also make a few painful, last-minute bike rides and try to run enough to avoid collapsing on the course.
This summer, though, I’m going with a more structured plan. I’ve joined Tri Gulf Coast, a club that offers a weekly training program called “Mere Mortals.” We meet at Pensacola Beach at 6:30 a.m. on Sundays to swim, bike and run. It’s a great group of experienced triathletes and I’ve learned a lot already.
Here’s a taste of the wisdom I’ve received in just two sessions:
- I have a bad case of “muscular dementia.” Occasionally, my arms and legs seem to forget exactly where they’re supposed to be and why. For example, instead of kicking and helping me swim, I noticed last week that my legs were just casually drifting along behind me. Once I got them moving correctly, my arms had stopped working.
- Speaking of swimming, I learned that it only take a few weeks of loafing to undo several months of training. Apparently nothing else I do uses the same muscle set as swimming and these muscles shut off completely once you get out of the water for a little while. (This may also be a symptom of the muscular dementia.)
- It’s important to have a good training partner to hold you accountable for making it to training every week. I learned that if you leave your partner drinking in a bar late on Saturday night, it decreases the chances you’re going to see him early on Sunday morning. Also, if he’s married and it was his wife’s birthday, I learned that he’s probably going to blame her for skipping out.
Notice that I’m not wearing a Speedo.
- Even though Mere Mortals meets on Sunday mornings, I learned that other people also work out a lot during the week, and that they expect you to do so as well. That’s because the workouts get progressively harder over the summer. (See, this is the kind of thing they need to tell you right up front.)
- I learned that lots of women and even some men train for triathlons in very skimpy outfits. Side notes: I enjoy seeing most women in skimpy outfits. Men in Speedos make me want to pluck my eyeballs out.
- Finally, I learned that Mere Mortals doesn’t cancel training on account of a tropical storm. We did skip the swim portion of the training, but not the bike or the run. For the record, riding a bike into a 20-mph headwind is like trying to pedal up a tree.
And for anyone who has never gone running immediately after a bike ride, well, let me just say that it’s almost as painful as seeing a fat guy in a Speedo.