Miles to go: 1305
Image by Pierre Éthier via Flickr
It’s inevitable that the dark days of November herald an ebb in the number and enthusiasm of athletes. Unless you play basketball, football, or wrestle, this is your “off” season. It takes a dedicated, hardy soul to maintain an outdoor fitness schedule when faced with the cold, rain and, eventually, even snow that accompanies winter (at least in these parts).
As such, while I was sitting at the club meeting, listening to a speaker from a local health club talk about cross training and weight training in the off season, my mind started to wander to a conversation I had with a grizzled veteran triathlete while warming up for Traknight a few weeks back. I mentioned that just didn’t think I had the body type to do a lot of marathons and that after the first of the year I was seriously considering starting triathlon training. He said that the whole reason he started triathlons was because all the cross training you have to do with the three different sports actually DECREASED the wear and tear on his body.
I had never thought of it this way… My vision of triathlon, like most people, is shaped by those images of the spectacle that is Ironman. My initial thought was, “If I can barely run a marathon, how in the heck would I ever do one AFTER swimming 2.4 miles and riding 116? That’s just crazy talk!”
However, learning more about triathlons and the different distances you can pick from, it is clear to me now that being a triathlete is different from being an “Ironman”. You can participate and enjoy the sport at many different levels without ever approaching Ironman distances. So for those of us just looking at the sport for the first time, this is a relief.
Then what he said made even more sense. Even if you are only doing sprint distance races, most normal human beings have responsibilities, families and life chores that limit the ability to train to an hour or two a day. There is absolutely no way you can get swim, bike and run time on a single day. So most trianing regimens have you do one per day, with the occasional “brick” of bike/run and a rare “training race” where you put it all together and even practice transitions. In the end, you run 2-3 days a week, ride 2-3 days a week and swim 2-3 days a week. Yes, I know there are not 9 days in a week, but remember those “bricks”… So it is actually possible to train 6 days a week and still get it all in.
So for the aging athlete (don’t cringe or take offense, it’s inevitable), switching from 6 days a week beating your legs to death on the roads as a runner, you drop to 2-3 days a week. How much better would your knees and ankles feel? It makes sense.
Last year taught me that I can’t abuse my body like I used to and that marathons may not be my thing. The rebellion cost me a year of fun and fitness that will likely take me another year to get back. So why not decrease the abuse while at the same time increasing the fitness? What about that is a bad thing?
So here is the plan:
November: Just have fun. Run when and how far I feel like. Start stretching.
December: Continue stretching and decrease mileage to 20 miles a week, tops. Add weight training specific to triathlon.
January: Stretch, lift and start swimming (by taking lessons). Ride a bit if possible. Run 2-3 days a week. Run a fun run.
February: Start a triathlon training program in preparation for my first triathlon, Race for Sight, at the end of April. Continue stretching and lifting.
March: Run a fun run, ease of on the lifting and add more bike time. Swim, swim, swim.
April: First triathlon!
May: Increase mileage in all sports if possible and start open water swimming.
June: First open water triathlon (end of June)
July-September: Train for nationals on September 19-20 (sprint distance)
October: Wilson’s Half Marathon!
November-December: Rinse & repeat
Does that sound reasonable?