April Mileage Update

ImageParty / Pixabay

Continuing on my trend of MORE DATA for 2017, I’m still tracking all my mileage.  I was a little afraid of this number because the past week has not been great for me.  I had to put a lot of extra hours in at work, and since I’m really trying my best to stay healthy, I prioritized sleep over workouts.  It’s not an ideal situation, but I’d rather go into my first race of the season slightly undertrained but healthy than properly trained but risking injury or illness.

Work will ease up after this week, and I’ve got a race and Swimfest this month – so there will be plenty of swimming happening in May.  So very much swimming.  Quite likely my highest month, if I make it to all the workouts.  Which I intend to, barring injury or illness.

March Mileage
Swimming – 4.4 miles
Biking – 178 miles
Running – 47 miles

Not my highest totals, but not far off.  Considering this includes some missed workouts, I’ll take it.  I’m really surprised at how many bike miles I put in every month.  Of course, much of this is trainer riding, which doesn’t exactly equate to outdoor miles, but it’s how I get in my mid-week workouts.  Plus I really love riding my trainer.  Somehow, it’s a very different type of suffering than a treadmill run.  It’s also a very disgusting sort of workout.  Seriously, make sure you have a mat or a towel under your trainer, because the sweat is really impressive.

Year to date
Swimming – 14.7 miles
Biking – 760 miles
Running – 181 miles

Wednesday Workout Recap

I saw this cool bird while out on my Sunday run. He seemed pretty unconcerned by all the people and dogs passing him.

It’s as if my brain doesn’t realize that I have a race coming up pretty darn soon.

Monday – Rest Day.  I’m really good at these.

Tuesday – Team Fight Swim.  So many sprints.  I definitely pushed too hard on these.

Wednesday – Switched it up since my bike was in the shop.  Did Thursday’s five mile run.

Thursday – Went to get my bike from the shop, thanks to traffic, I didn’t get home until late.  But at least they managed to figure out the clicking.  Apparently continually splashing Tailwind from my terrible aero bottle is not so good for a bike’s inner workings.  But $35 later, it’s all fixed.  And I have a different aero bottle.

Friday – Swim in the morning, then a super long day at work.  Hooray for morning workouts.  Though I was still an old lady and went to bed early.

Saturday – Weirdly, I couldn’t sleep Friday night.  I don’t know if it was stress from work or what, but around 3am, I gave up on the plan to get up early to go to the Key to Keys sendoff at 6:30 in Baltimore and turned off my alarm.  Due to weather, I then did 30 miles on my trainer, which is not ideal.  I was also totally exhausted, so it took FOREVER.  But I got it done.

Sunday – After a proper amount of rest, I went on an 8 mile run.  This went much better.

Open Water Practice

This guy might be at your open water swim, but he looks friendly enough, so it’s probably okay. ArtsyBee / Pixabay

It’s that time of year!  Open water race season is starting.  And with that comes open water swimming practice.

If you haven’t already figured it out, open water swimming is very different from pool swimming.  Most notably, you don’t have a handy line at the bottom that you can follow to ensure you’re swimming in a straight line.  In fact, you probably won’t even be able to see the bottom of the body of water.  I know that most of my races aren’t that clean, and even if the water is pretty clear, once you get a bunch of triathletes churning it up, it gets pretty murky pretty fast.

So no matter how much you swim in the pool, I really recommend getting some open water practice before your first race.  I make a point to get in the water before my season starts every year.  I want to get practice in while wearing my wetsuit, and I want to remind myself how much the first minutes in cold water really really suck.  Then it gets much better.

Locally, there are a couple of practice swims that I’m planning to attend.  If you’re in the DC/MD/VA area, check out the practice swims at Fort Ritchie and Luray.  Wave One also has a couple of clinics available.  I’m sure there are others I’m missing.

If you aren’t in the area or can’t make any of these swims, definitely look for a body of water where you can swim before your season starts, even if you can’t swim very far.  Even just swimming around a dock can help you get used to the weirdness of open water.

Barring all of that, if you’re doing a race in a wetsuit, get in that wetsuit and get into the pool!  Unless it’s an outdoor pool that’s still pretty darn cold, you shouldn’t do your whole workout in the wetsuit because you’ll overheat, and no good comes from that.  Even just a few laps are better than nothing.

 

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?