One year later: My first triathlon training workout

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.

Spinning Away

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?


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  1. Congratulations on your one year marker!

    It is pretty amazing to see how far you have come in one year.

  2. You have sure come a long way in one year! Starting out with almost noting then going all the way to 70.3 in a few months is awesome :)

  3. You have come a long way!! Great job. Isn’t great not to be married. :)

    BTW, I saw you run into transition in the Nations Triathlon movie.

  4. Congratulations. You question at the end of your post says it all, “What have you got to lose?”

    Indeed, what do we have to lose?

  5. This is so cool. Our little Rainmaker is all grown up!

    Ah yes, I think you’ve seen the same stat as me. Only 10% of blog readership comments….

  6. SLB

    The pool water was evaporating faster than me…ROTFLMAO!!!

    Happy Birthday, have a candle on me.

    I think you, Audrey and I are in the same boat, check out my Social Networking post, due in day or so.

  7. Thanks for sharing your one year story! It really helps newbies like me.

    I can’t believe that it was only a year ago since you started – you’ve really accomplished so much in a year.

  8. Wow, you’ve really come a long way in a year! That’s awesome – congrats!

    It’s so true – you really CAN do anything you put your mind to, especially when you write it out and put it out there for the world to see. We tend to be a lot more focused when our goals are clearly stated and public. :)

    I was cracking up at your description of your initial swim and bike endeavors. Funny how our perspective changes once we get a little experience under our belts.

  9. Not so many weeks ago (like 2) I was having the same swim experience, also trying to follow the 0 to 1650 program. Time to get back in the pool!

    Congrats on such an successful one year and thanks for sharing your expriences! It gives those of us at the beginning of our tri journey, some encouragement!

  10. i’m not buyin’ this for ONE SECOND!!! i just swam with you two weeks ago and YOU ROCKED. you REALLY musta put your mind to it with triathlon. way to stick with it and become a speed demon!!!

  11. congrats indeed! very inspiring.

    but…are you saying… 12 miles at 12mph um, slow?!?

  12. you were in a movie?? do tell!

  13. Congratulations!!!
    I sow you leave comment on Thomas blog link to so I decide to visit yours also. And I was surprised to read your story you accomplished so much in one year. Well if you love what are you doing and if you have enough patience and strong will, you proof everything is possible.

  14. Arnaud

    I just discovered your website a few days ago and found it very interesting by the way.
    I am in the situation you were prior to start running. With dozens of pounds to lose. So the answer to the question at the end of this post is WEIGHT !
    Well, I will try to manage a short or oly tri in a year or so.
    I went to the swimming pool today to get some lessons in a few weeks as I start from zero. I ride my (brand new) bike daily to work (28km return) but it did not have any effect so far on my weight.
    I plan to start running when I am lighter.

    Bonne soirée !