Well…I made it through my first ‘year’ of triathlon training. It was this week one year ago today that I did my first training for a triathlon (exactly one year ago yesterday). I had decided to signup for a 70.3 Half Iron race in September…but I decided to signup before I biked my first mile or swam my first lap.
My first cycling workout was out on my old school (no seriously, from middle school) mountain bike. I hadn’t really ridden it since I was a paperboy in middle school.
It was April 7th, 2007 that me and my trusty mountain bike went out onto the GW Parkway trail and ‘hammered’ out 12 miles. 12 miles at 12 MPH. I was a rocket! A superstar! And then my ass hurt. A lot. And my mountain bike seat was (well…still is) like a Cadillac – big and comfy. After some reading on the internets, people were saying I needed to get a road bike which included a slim bike seat that could quite possibly get lost up my ass with one wrong bump. Yikes I thought, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all. Plus, I hadn’t told anybody of my aspirations yet – so perhaps I can just back out now?
But after much research I went out and got a road bike. I was terrified at first about remembering to unclip. However I actually managed to not once forget to unclip (of course, now that I write this – tomorrow I’ll forget and fall over). And slowly but surely over the next few months my speed and distance increased. And most importantly – my ass no longer hurt.
Bubble Bubble, Double Trouble
But I still had that little problem of the aquatic portion. Sure I could float around the pool or play in the ocean – but swim laps? Ha! That would be like watching a one-winged bird try and fly.
On April 11th, 2007 I went to the pool for the first time. I wore big baggy swim trunks that could probably be used as a parachute for an airliner. I didn’t have quarters for the lockers, because I didn’t even consider the fact that I’d have to put my stuff anywhere (I hadn’t been to a gym/rec center in years). I crept into the pool – but determined & confident – and took off across the 25 yard cross section. Things were going great!
And then I realized I was still on my third stroke…and I couldn’t breath.
No problem, I’ll merely brute force this to the other side. And I did… not one breath for 25 yards. Who needs breathing anyway? Amateurs they all must be I thought.
At this point it occurred to me that I probably wouldn’t be too successful in trying to swim 1.2 miles on a single breath. So I formulated a plan to both stroke and breath – brilliant! I took back off across the pool and tried to breath during a stroke. And I got air! As well as about half of the pool’s water. I then imploded into a water chocking/coughing fit roughly 1/3rd of the way across. Stylish & Sexy I was.
My log says that it took me 40 minutes that day to go 700 yards. Yes…14 laps. That would put it at about 3 minutes per lap. I believe the grandma’s doing the water aerobics at the end of the pool were moving faster than me. Kids on floaty toys were moving faster than me. The pool water was evaporating faster than me.
But the good news is that I got faster over time. I followed what I outlined here, and then started to learn how to breath and swim (brilliant concept). After a while I was able to swim back and forth without imitating the pool filtration system – and without stopping.
I needed a plan
I put together my own little training plan. It had me running 6-7 days a week, cycling 3 days and swimming 3 days. It worked great for about two weeks. And then I started to get really tired. I started to get worried that perhaps I was a wimp and maybe this sport wasn’t cut out for me. So I do what I always do when I’m confused – I got to Barnes and Noble and see what the books there have to say.
They said pretty clearly that apparently I need a ‘rest day’. Go figure!
I then realized that I needed a real plan. I knew how to train for running events (I had started doing that a year earlier) – but I had no idea how to train for a triathlon. So I bought a big pile of of those books and brought them home. The vast majority I never read. But I did follow one of them to the letter. I followed the this day by day, week by week guide to doing a triathlon. It included details training plans for every level of triathlon and from beginner to expert.
From there I got into a predictable training schedule and began to get faster and more efficient in all three sports. A few months later I did my first Sprint Triathlon, followed by an Olympic a month after that and then another month later my goal 70.3 race – which I completed successfully. And the rest after that, as they say…
is history. is mostly in my blog.
But the point of this post isn’t to say what I accomplished in a year. Nope – it’s to prove what you can do if you set your mind on it. While there are many folks who read and comment on my blog regularly (mostly already triathletes)– there is also the silent 90% of my daily readers that I’m sure contain folks who have never done a tri before. And some of you wonder whether or not you too could finish a triathlon. I was no different 366 days ago than you. None. Zip. Zero. I couldn’t swim and I couldn’t bike – the two biggest fears of most triathletes.
But the answer is that if you set your mind to it and specify a goal – I think anything is possible. As long as you’re willing to try hard and give it your all, nobody will ever fault you for going out and giving it a shot. What have you got to lose?