Friday, January 15, 2010

New computer & tips for beginners

Sorry, it has been awhile. I was fully intending to update the blog shortly after my last post, but last week our computer completely died. So, we had to go through the whole hard drive recovery with geek squad and set up the new computer. It is nice to be on a laptop now though. Our old computer was legitimately a POS. It was about 5 years old and had maybe 50MB of space left on it. I guess it was time.

So in my last post I said that I would put out some tips for beginners, or for people who are jumping up to a longer distance in triathlon. Either way, I'm pumped up for you and wish you the best of luck. So, without further adieu, here are some of my tips and lessons learned.

1. Get your bike fitted by a pro. You should probably be spending around 50% of your training time on your bike (depends on the distance...more on that later also). A professional bike fit goes something like this; either through video imaging and analysis of your pedal stroke or by taking manual measurements of the majority of your body and watching you ride your bike on a trainer, the fitter will adjust your pedal placement on your cleat, your seat height & fore/aft adjustment, your handlebars and possibly stem and headset. This is a back and forth process and may require different parts being swapped our. It could easily take 1-2 hours. This will go a long way toward preventing injury.

2. If you are new to the sport or have not trained consistently for awhile, do NOT increase your volume by more than 10% per week. Volume is best measured in time for the bike and run and by yards/meters for the swim. The reason that time is used instead of distance is that depending on the profile of where you bike/run and how it may change from day to day or week to week, your mileage could conceivably be very different even if you trained the same amount of time.

3. Get the Triathletes training bible by Joe Friel. This is somewhat involved reading as you do get into physiology a bit, but it helps you understand the theory behind periodized training. Then, if you don't want to design your own training plan, you can pick up a book of plans already designed. You will have the background to know what the books are saying when they say "bike 1.5 hours with 3x10 mins in zone 4 with 5 min recoveries".

4. If you get new shoes, ease into them. Don't just change shoes and go out and put in 20 or 30 miles in your new shoes. Shoes are slightly different from pair to pair, so it is best to easy your way into new shoes over a few weeks. I believe part of the reason I had an IT band injury last year may have been that I got new shoes right in my high volume weeks of the base period and started track work at the same time.

5. Get a watch with a heart rate monitor. Heart rate isn't the best measurement to train by, but it certainly beats nothing at all. Ideally you would train with power on the bike through a power meter (around $900), a garmin on the run (real time pace - anywhere from $150-$500), and pace in the swim.

6. Practice transitions. This is free time saved. It doesn't take hard workouts that make you want to puke. It takes perhaps looking a little foolish as you run out of your shower in your wetsuit and out into the yard to practice T1, but trust me, it is worth it. On a similar note, figure out if you can go sock less or not. Personally I go sock less on the bike and the run and I haven't had any problems. It helps to use tri-slide inside your shoes very liberally. On that note....

7. Use tri slide from your elbows down to your wrists, on your shoulders and neck, and from just below your knee down to your ankles, and even on your feet. This really helps the wetsuit go on and come off much easier and prevent chafing during the swim.

8. Practice open water swimming in your wetsuit before the race. Even if you are an experienced triathlete it always helps to get open water swims in throughout the season. Practice sighting on a tree in the distance and swimming in a straight line. If you have friends as crazy as you, get them in the water with you and swim in a pack to get the feeling of being kicked, elbowed, splashed, pulled, etc because that is how the swim will be until around the first buoy.

9. Make sure you can change a flat quickly. Burden yourself with a few extra ounces by carrying more than one tube and more than one CO2. You never think that a brand new tube will have a small leak, but it can happen. In fact, I would suggest that you keep a race flat kit separate from your everyday kit that goes in your saddle bag. If you keep a tube folded up it weakens it. Not to mention when it is in your saddle bag it is constantly rubbing against your tire irons, CO2's, emergency $20, multitool and chainbreaker, powerlink, cell phone, and whatever else may be in there (this was 2 tips in one, since you now know what you should have in your saddle bag at a minimum).

10. Have fun and don't forget to enjoy the view from wherever you are training. The great part about triathlon is that most of your training will take place outside. Soak it all in and you'll almost forget you are "training".

I hope you find this post useful. If you have any questions at all, just reply to the post and I'll try to address them in future posts. I'm by no means an expert, but I've got a couple of fairly successful seasons under my belt, so I may be able to shed some light on things for you.

Take care and train hard,


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