Wednesday Workout Recap

I am really bummed that this weekend’s weather is supposed to be cool and rainy.  I was planning to go ride Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park for their car free day on Sunday, but it looks like the weather is going to be cold, wet, and foggy, and not at all conducive to a good training ride.  I’m going to wait and see what the weather looks like come Friday, but I may give up my spot, try to get in a good training ride Saturday morning before the rain comes, and do my long run on the treadmill (blech).  With race season coming up soon, I want to make sure all of my outdoor rides are quality.  I also don’t want to ride in the cold and wet if I don’t have to.

Last week was kind of hit or miss workout wise.

Monday was a rest day, and we had a Coeur Team Captains call, which was super helpful and a reminder that I’m on a team with some very incredible ladies.

Tuesday was a scheduled swim, but the pool was closed for Spring Break.  I considered hitting the pool before work, but with an 8:00 meeting, that wasn’t an option.  I did a quick run and some strength work instead.

Wednesday I had another FTP test.  I was exhausted and didn’t expect this to go well at all, but I surprised myself.  I wasn’t quite up to my most recent max, but I was darn close.

Thursday called for a five mile run.  I remember when 5 miles was my long weekend run.  Those were the days.

Friday I went back to the pool in the morning for the first time since September.  It was good to be back, though it was also my day off work, so I didn’t have to be there ready to jump in the water right at 6am.  This week is going to hurt.

Saturday I went out and rode 25 miles, my first ride outside this year.  I went for an easy route, just to make sure I remembered how to ride.  Followed it up with a 1 mile run.   I was hoping the ride would be faster, but you can’t win ’em all.

Sunday I had a 7 mile run on the schedule, but I was absolutely exhausted and probably fighting off some sort of bug.  Saturday after my ride, I actually laid down and watched tv, which is something I never do, so I should have expected that I was fighting something.  Thankfully, a full rest day seems to have done the trick.  I mentally struggle with skipping workouts because I feel like I’m just being lazy, but when my body is really pushing back, I do my best to listen.

What do you need to do a triathlon?

skeeze / Pixabay

A friend of mine is interested in getting into triathlons (yay!) and he asked me what things you need for a triathlon.  I gave him a few tips, but it got me thinking.  What things do you need to do a triathlon.  And I’m not talking about the intangibles, like grit and determination and a bit of crazy, I mean the actual stuff.  So I’m going to break it down into some categories for you: Needs, Definitely Nice to Have, The Next Level, and You Don’t Need This, But It’s Cool.

Needs

  • Something to swim in
  • Goggles (thanks, Kecia!)
  • Bike
  • Bike helmet
  • Clothes to wear on the bike and the run
  • Shoes to bike and run in*
  • Bike hydration method

*I guess technically, if you’re a barefoot runner, you don’t need run shoes, but you will still need shoes while on the bike, so put something on your feet.

You don’t need to have clipless pedals or special bike shoes.  Those will appear in the next section.  Your bike doesn’t have to be fancy.  It can be a road bike or a hybrid bike or even a mountain bike.  Whatever you have, that works.  I have seen people racing on cruiser bikes.

What about clothing?  At triathlons geared towards beginners, you will see everything.  Wear what works for you.  Some women will do the entire race in a what is essentially a bathing suit (including elites).  I am not one of those women.  You will see ladies get into the swim in a bathing suit, then pull on shorts in transition.  It’s an option, but I would worry about chafing.  At the bare minimum, for women, I would recommend a pair of triathlon shorts, a sports bra, and a shirt to put on at transition.  For men, I would recommend the same, minus the sports bra.

What are triathlon shorts?  Basically, they are spandex shorts with a bit of padding in them. Not quite as much padding as bike shorts.  They’re designed so you can swim, bike, and run in them.  If you tried this in bike shorts, the padding would fill up with water on the swim and be quite uncomfortable, and you would feel like you were wearing a diaper on the run.  Technically, you can wear whatever shorts you want, but I would very much recommend tri shorts.

In most triathlons, you will find water stops on the run course.  Sometimes you will find them on the bike course, sometimes not, but either way, you’ll want to have some sort of hydration plan for riding the bike.  This doesn’t have to be fancy.  A bottle in a water bottle holder.  If you struggle to pull out a bottle on the bike, wear a Camelbak or similar hydration device.  Hydration is very important.

Definitely Nice To Have

  • Tri Kit
  • Socks (for me – others will disagree)
  • Clipless pedals
  • Bike Shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Chamois Cream to prevent chafing
  • Flat Repair Kit

A tri kit is either a two piece or a one piece outfit that is designed so you can wear it the entire race.  You know what’s hard after getting out of the swim?  Trying to pull a shirt on to your wet body.  If you wear a tri kit, you don’t have to worry about changing at all during the race.

You don’t have to ride or race with a flat repair kit, but I really recommend it.  If you’re out for a ride and you get a flat tire, you’re going to need to fix it, right?  Sure, you could also just call for a Lyft, but that’s not going to work in a race.  So I recommend getting a repair kit and learning how to use it.  I will talk more about this in a later blog post (and if you’re local, will be doing a flat clinic in July).

One thing that scares a lot of cyclists is clipless pedals.  These are confusingly named – they’re called clipless because they don’t have toe clips (which are really old school).  However, you do clip your shoes into the pedals.  So you have special bike shoes with a very hard sole that have a cleat on the bottom.  This cleat will attach to the pedals so that while you ride, you get the full force of motion from your legs.  You’re not just pushing down, but you’re also pulling up.  It’s amazing how different riding feels.  Will you fall over?  Probably.  From a complete stop.  Usually in front of people.  But you will mostly just hurt your pride.

The Next Level

  • Aero bars
  • Wetsuit

If you’re taking your racing to the next level, you might want to have aero bars put onto your road bike.  This lets you ride in a much more aerodynamic position.  You will see lots of people without them, but it’s an inexpensive addition to your road bike.

I struggled with where to put “wetsuit” on this list.  Technically, you can be a triathlete and race multiple times a year and never ned a wetsuit.  They’re only absolutely needed when the water is exceptionally cold, making the race wetsuit mandatory.  You can just avoid those races.  But there are also races where the wetsuit is an option.  In these cases, I like wearing my wetsuit.  It adds buoyancy, and “free speed,” as my coach calls it, plus it makes the cold water seem less awful.

You Don’t Need This, But It’s Cool

  • Tri bike

You will see lots of triathletes with really cool bikes.  And you know what?  Every single one of them wants a newer and cooler bike.  You see, the proper number of bikes to own is n+1, where n is the number of bikes you currently own.  Tri bikes put you in a more compact, more aerodynamic position.  The geometry lets you use your leg muscles in a way that helps save your legs for the run.  It’s not a requirement by any means, but if you’re in the sport for a while, eventually you’ll find yourself looking at tri bikes, doing the math, crunching the numbers, and deciding if it’s for you.

There are plenty of things that triathletes use that aren’t on this list: Sunscreen (wear it), towels, different little products that people use on the various legs of the race, but these are some of the big things that came to mind, things that people need or wonder if they might need.

Anything I missed or miscategorized?

Do The Hard Things

AstroPic / Pixabay

Starting this week, my training schedule has me back to swimming twice a week.  Pool workouts are always my most dreaded workouts of the week.  I do not know why.  I think part of it is because it has to be so meticulously scheduled.  For running and biking, I can sort of do them whenever I want, but when it comes to swimming, I’m either going to a pre-scheduled group swim or I’m swimming in the morning before work, which means I want to get to the pool as early as possible to ensure that I’m not super late for work (though I’m technically on a flexible schedule, so even when I’m “late,” I’m not really late).

Going to the group workout isn’t actually that bad.  I’m meeting up with a group!  It’s fun!  They’re fun people!  And all I have to do afterwards is shower and go to bed.

Morning swims though, I think I find them awful due solely to the logistics.  Get to the pool fast, hope I can get a lane, get through my workout, shower and make myself presentable, and then rush off to work.  But while I’m actually swimming, it’s not bad.  I don’t mind the workout itself.  In fact, I really enjoy swimming.  It’s a great workout, as evidenced by my wobbly arms and legs after the fact, but it doesn’t feel as rough on my body as running or biking.

But somehow, in my brain, swimming is the hard part of the three sports in triathlon.  Not the one that I’m worst at (that’s probably running), but the one that I struggle the most to train.  I’m trying to get it through my head that going to the pool isn’t that bad, that it’s great to have my workouts done early in the morning, and more importantly, the more I train my swimming, the less time I spend in an open water swim.

So I have to make myself do the hard things.  It doesn’t matter that I don’t want to.  I have to do it.  And we all have those hard things that we don’t want to do that we have to do.  So get out there.  Do the hard things.

Wednesday Workout Recap

sleeping fox

Shingo_Nono / Pixabay

This was probably the last really easy week I’ll have for a while.  Hello, spandex season… I mean triathlon season.

Monday – Rest Day.  Due to some work commitments, I had to pull out of singing my next choir concert (though I will be at the concert as a volunteer) which means that I no longer have long, late rehearsals Monday nights.  It’s an actual rest day.  I almost don’t know what to do with myself.

Tuesday – My schedule said “Go to swim if you feel like it.”  Let’s be honest, I rarely feel like going to swim.  Also, I was still pretty sore from the race, so I just did an easy walk through the neighborhood and called it a day.

Wednesday – 60 minutes on the trainer

Thursday – 4 mile run

Friday – Strength work, plus a 30 minute walk.

Saturday – Had to flip up my schedule this weekend, so I did my first brick of the season.  20 minutes on the bike trainer, followed by a 10k run.  I pushed the 10k faster than I should have for a training run, and I paid for that on Sunday.

Sunday – 90 minute FTP based trainer ride.  Wasn’t sure I was going to survive this one, and yet I really love these sorts of workouts.

Virtual Races – Worth It?

Virtual races seem to be all the rage lately.  What is a virtual race?  Simply put, it is an event where you can participate from wherever you are.  On the day of the race (or weekend, or week, or however long the organizers give you), you go out, run the distance, and (usually) report back on your results.

Well, that sounds like the training I do all the time.  The difference with a virtual race is that there is often swag involved.  Medals are the most popular swag, but some races have t-shirts, race bibs, and other items for those who sign up.

So obviously, a virtual race with swag isn’t free.  Frequently, there is a charitable aspect to the races as well.  Sign up and a portion of your entry fee will go to charity.  I’m all about fun fundraising ideas, so this is a great one.

But virtual races get a lot of negative comments in the running community.  Some people claim it’s not a real race.  And it’s not a traditional road race, that’s true, but that doesn’t make it any less of a race.  Can people cheat?  Sure.  Can they sign up and get the medal and never run?  They can do that too.  But that’s not the point.

Virtual races are a great way for many people to motivate themselves to run.  Not everyone enjoys the traditional road race.  I know plenty of slower runners who find races intimidating, and prefer to participate in virtual races only.  (I wish they weren’t so intimidated, but I’m glad they have an outlet for their running.)  Some people like the flexibility of virtual races.  If you work weekends, you might not be able to run the local 5K, but you can do a virtual 5K on your Tuesday off.

One virtual race series with some pretty sweet medals is the Hogwarts Running Club.  Seriously, check out that bling!  I already spend enough money on races, so I’ve not done one of their virtual races, but if you’re a medal person, this looks like a great group to be in.  (I hear their community support is also pretty sweet.)

A screenshot from the Zombies Run race. Yes, I was listening to a cast recording while running.

Over the weekend, I did the Zombies Run Spring 2017 Virtual Race.  For me, the pull wasn’t the bling, but rather the story that comes with the race.  I really like the app, and having gotten to try out the previous virtual races for free as part of their 5 year anniversary celebration, I wanted to give this one a try.  I also have been using and enjoying the Zombies Run app since it was first released, and by paying for a race, I could make a small financial contribution as a thanks.  I really loved all the hype that comes with the race.  There are two training missions that are released prior to the race, so you get some lead-up to the story.  It definitely builds the excitement and the race made my weekend training run a lot more enjoyable.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m going to be doing a ton of virtual races.  I’m already spending enough money on racing as it is!  But if you’re looking for some added motivation, check out some virtual races and get running.