I just finished a very helpful book called Triathlon 101, by John Mora. Because this is my first triathlon and I have about a zillion questions, I picked up several books on triathlon and the various sports (running, cycling and swimming) from my local library in hopes that I could read my way to success. What’s that? You have to work out too? Ah, right… Well I’m doing that too.
I really enjoyed reading this book as I sipped my morning latte before work. It always seemed to give me this anxious excitement to get through the day and put my lessons to work in whatever work out I was doing that evening. It also seemed to work that I was reading about running on run days and reading about biking on bike days, etc. At any rate, it made me want to “get out and do!”
I wanted to share some of the quotes and interesting tidbits from the book with you and hey, guess what? whether you’re into tri already, you’re considering doing on, OR you couldn’t think of anything you’d rather do with your time – there are some words of advice that apply across the board
“triathlon is like one big adventure that we’re addicted to. every race is a different course, kind of like when we were kids and the obstacle courses at school were always a fun challenge. It’s this sense of adventure that gives us passion for the sport.”
~ Greg and Laura Bennett (husband and wife, competitive triathletes)
[if only we approached all difficulties in life with such optimism!]
When I am flipping through a book I typically take note of the chapter titles and can gain a pretty good idea whether or not I want to read further. Instead of trying to write up a big long book report, I thought I’d share the chapter names and a brief snippet of something I took away from each chapter. That way, you can decide if the book is something you want to peruse further and who knows – maybe you’ll learn something!
Chapter One. Introduction to Tri
A brief history of the sport as well as some information about the types of races and training plans. I’ll admit this chapter was pretty dull and sort of reminded me of those crappy speeches where people start out “Webster’s defines triathlon as…”
Chapter Two. Planning to Race
Take a personal inventory of your skill set. “to get where you want to go, you must first know where you are.”
What type of race will you do? Sprint, Olympic, Relay – all explained.
The importance of goals and keeping a workout journal. “goals, in themselves are important. But if you don’t have a clear idea of why you are setting those goals, you might find your motivation waning at critical junctures.” (see, I told you this would apply outside of TRI)
Chapter Three. Getting the Right Stuff
This chapter had lots of helpful tips on items you might want to buy, how to set a budget, etc. All of this is so incredibly personal and I still have a lot of research to do should I decide to buy anything. For this first tri, I’m buying nothing! I’ll be wearing bike shorts and a tight top, riding my hybrid and running in my typical running sneak’s. Nothing fancy here folks!
Chapter Four. Swim Training
I really loved the opening to this chapter: “I’ll always consider learning to swim one of my greatest personal achievements. Not just because it enabled me to finish my first triathlon, but because I managed to look in the eye a personal demon that had stared me down for 13 years.” I could make this same statement myself – learning to swim, becoming a capable runner – these are accomplishments because they are personal victories.
But the chapter had lots of good tips on swimming as well such as direction to “minimize the swim” and “make it less intimidating” by thinking of it as a mere warm up to the harder parts of the race.
“The key to swimming is balance – not buoyancy, body fat or upper body strength” really hit me too. He’s talking about how, as a tall person, he’d always thought he had a disadvantage in the swim but once he learned balance he was able to turn that supposed “hindrance” into a positive. (Again, how many times in life do we find that achieving balance is the key to our success?? And that our negative qualities can often be turned into some of our most positive?)
Another big take away from the swim chapter is that at least 25% of swim training should be drills. Whereas with running and cycling conditioning comes with distance – in swimming “conditioning is something that occurs as a result of practicing technique.”
Chapter Five. Bike Training – Putting in the Mileage
“Use your gears!” Holy cow you wouldn’t believe how eye-opening this was for me. Yes, I know how to use my gears and I do find myself needing them quite a bit. However, I have always tried to avoid using my gears thinking that down shifting was a means of giving up – of copping out – taking the easy road. Apparently, I’m an idiot. The point I was missing is that with tri, you need to keep your legs strong for the run. Instead of trying to push myself through the pain, I need to take advantage of those gears and save my legs up for the run. After all, the strength will come whether I shift down or not – but this way, I avoid injury and undue pain.
Chapter Six. Run Training – Putting One Foot in Front of the Other
You should be increasing your runs (distance and speed) by 10% for three to four weeks, then backing off by 10% for a week.
“Make your goal consistency” and try to maintain an even pace throughout the run – rather than burn out at the top or bottom. Intervals are for the pros! In a day when HIIT and everything intervals is all the rage, this was a tough pill to swallow. Rather than making your run look like an EKG reading, the book recommends building your speed by 10% each week but keeping the same pace throughout the full distance.
There was also some great advice on types of run training, how to run hills and when to introduce intervals if you’re ready for that level of training.
This chapter also introduced the idea of “Brick Workouts” explaining that the best way to prepare your legs for race day is to put in “bricks” that combine biking and running.
When coming out of the bike leg of the race you should run with a shortened stride for the first half mile, gradually easing your way back to full stride – this gives your muscles time to stretch and will help with post race recovery.
While training, you should be running at a 6 on a scale of 1-10 – this is your comfortable pace and where you should be running at during practice runs.
Chapter Seven. Training for All Three
“Triathlon training should be part of a well balanced lifestyle, not an obsession that hinders your family life or puts your career in danger.”
This section also had little worksheets to help put together a training schedule.
“Figuring out just how triathlon fits into everything else in your life is just as relevant to your success as all that technical know-how.”
Chapter Eight. Fueling Up for a Triathlon
A really great run down on proper nutrition, not just for tri training but in general as well. Energy comes in three food forms and all three are necessary for proper body metabolism and to efficiently use that fuel. You need Carbs, Proteins and Fats to be your racing (and everyday) best And don’t forget to drink lots of fluids!
Chapter Nine. Staying Healthy
Possible signs of overtraining (here’s an intersting one: having a sweet tooth!) and how to break the cycle of over training, injury and sickness. Eating right and training in moderation will leave you happy and healthier.
Chapter Ten. Peaking to Race
“your progress toward success depends on a fundamental question: where are you going?” ~ Napolean Hill
Pre-race checklists, what to pack, things to do during race week, common mistakes and how to avoid them (prep for a flat tire!) – this chapter really resolved a lot of my “mental jitters” regarding the race. I’m sure I’ll still get butterflies in my tummy on the actual day but my head is a lot quieter in the meantime. The incessant question of “how this” and “how that” has ceased.
Reality check: “How important is your race time compared to the benefits you’ve gained from the experience of training for your first triathlon..?”
Chapter Eleven. Nailing the Big Day
“It’s all right to have butterflies in your stomach. Just get them to fly in formation.” ~ Dr. Rob Gilbert
“Ready to swim, ride and run alongside a tribe of common people with an uncommon commitment to fitness & life.”
Things to do immediately after the race that will help aid in recovery and reduce the risk of “post race illness” including drinking liquid throughout the day, eating the same type of meal as your pre-race days AND walking immediately after the finish line to reduce lactic acid build up.
Chapter Twelve. Tri, Tri Again
Being a triathlon lifer (or as I would like to call it, possible side effects) has it’s natural benefits: eating healthier, more energy, new relationships, better clarity and ability to balance life.. the list goes on.
I also really loved that, in a throw back to 007 he says you have a “license to tri” or rather, a license to call yourself a triathlete. You can call yourself that for a year BUT if you don’t do another race and it’s been more than 12 months – sorry friends, you’re no longer in the club, your license has been revoked. Sort of like those old college football guys who really shouldn’t be calling themselves “athletes” now that the only football they play is fantasy
So that’s the book! Still interested? Well than you should probably get yourself a copy of John Mora’s book or see if it’s available from your local library!