Scratching the Triathlon Itch

I was at the Chicago Cubs home opener today at Wrigley Field when a friend of mine starting giving me shit.  Ed, who is a lovely, funny, and very smart man, told me that I really had quite a different view of “leisurely” activities than he does.  I had mentioned that the upcoming 57 mile ride at Little Red would be pretty easy – all things considered – as there was only one really brutal climb, at Mile 54.  Ed pointed out that “easy” was sitting in a green seat at The Friendly Confines, not pedaling through the mountains of Utah.  And I had to agree.

But, if you’ve been struck by a desire to challenge yourself – or, to simply stay active – setting goals and trying to knock them down becomes a bit addicting.  I know, because I can’t go through a Spring season without signing up for new races, and trying to plan my summer around trying just. one. more. race.

If you’ve been bitten by THAT bug, you may be one of the ten people who’s asked me in the past few weeks how to get started in triathlons.  Perhaps I’m overstating the case, but all of the sudden, it feels like EVERYONE has found out about my favorite, secret sport.

And what’s not to love?  Triathlon is a great starter sport.  Aside from the mastering of three disciplines, and the sometimes overcomplicated lists of gear, if you can swim, bike, and run, this is a sport for you. 

But say, for argument’s sake, that you’re new to triathlon, and want to train.  Where should you get started? Do you need a training group if you’re only doing a sprint? Can you train and work – or even, travel – at the same time?  And what about the gear? 

In the next few posts, we’ll talk about some of the unique issues surrounding triathlon, but for today, I just want to share some online and print resources to help you understand the training approach, and how you might begin to accomplish a goal of completing your first tri.

Training Schedules and Guidance

When I first started doing triathlons in 1999, I pulled down a free, easy schedule from www.trinewbies.com . (at the time, it could fit in a single graph. It’s safe to say things have gotten a bit more detailed since then.)    I think I used an 8 or 10 week schedule, which called for morning and evening workouts of less than 45 minutes each.  I stuck to it, but not too close…and it got me through my first race. 

Today, there are a variety of programs out there, including free guidance at www.beginnertriathlete.com (Sprint programs here).

If you want a more detailed read, combined with a training schedule, and some advice on how to avoid purchasing too much gear, check out Joel Friel’s book, “Your First Triathlon”.  For less than the cost of dinner at your favorite restaurant, you’ll have a good guide to help navigate your new sport.

Do you travel for work?  Find it hard to work in a workout?  Looking for some additional detail about how to cross train (this is you, my running friends).  If so, I’d highly recommend “Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week”.  Sure, more than four hours will give you a better time, but if you’re working within some constraints (um, children?) this is a good book which will give you a ton of knowledge about core exercises and training, while letting you pick and choose from what you need.

Next up: finding a local training group – what to look for, and how to make the most of your training experience. 

Until then, read up, and take a look at that summer schedule. I’ll just bet there’s a race with your name on it.

9 thoughts on “Scratching the Triathlon Itch

  1. Hi sallie!
    I’m going to check out some of these sources you are recommending. Any books, such as, “Triathlon Training for those with a Broken Back?”. Check out my blog today if you get a chance. I’d love to get your opinion.
    LRRH is coming up fast!

  2. Have to agree those two websites are the best – helped me get through the confusion of creating the “right” training plan. I’ll have to see about getting hands on the Joel Friel book. Thanks!!

  3. YAY for Triathlons!!!! I am a tri-virgin, signed up for my first one in July: Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in MPLS. Thank you so much for posting this valuable information.!
    -Jesssica

    • Jessica –
      That’s perfect to start with Lifetime! It’s a great race, and you’ll LOVE the atmosphere….

      Good luck and keep us poste don the journey!!

      Sal

  4. Hi Sal:

    ok-you’re sticking in my head. I’m not up for a tri but I’m following your advice and taking on little bits at a time. I did a kickboxing class this a.m. to burn off last night’s margaritas-yeah 80 degree weather! I’ve got the bike all ready to go for pick up from school today. Will pull all 80 pounds of kids home 🙂

    • Thanks, Lisa! I am very impressed with the kickboxing – if I could do that once a week and still walk in heels, I’d be all over it. Alas, I think I’d look Frankenstein-esque after such a bout…

      Um, and how exactly does one pull 80 pounds of kids home? Very impressive. Very.

  5. Can I just say that I’m rapt about finding your blog!! Looking forward to reading more of it as I start my training for my first triathlon. 🙂

  6. Hi- been visiting your site for about 18 months. thanks for the great advice on clothing for the plus size athlete. Two great books for triathlete newbies that have been my triathlete bibles for the last 10 months are “Slow Fat Triathlete: by Jayne Williams and “Triathloning for the ordinary mortal” by Stephen Jonas. My first triathlon is this sunday 4/25 in Sullivan IL . cant wait

    • Linda,
      Thanks for the additions! (And for visiting!) I keep forgetting about Slow Fat Triathlete because it came out just after I started, but you’re right, it’s really well received.

      Good luck with your race this weekend! I will think good thoughts for all of you who are heading out there this weekend – just remember, you’re well trained and you WILL finish!!

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