“I did my first triathlon this year!” Rachel told me. “I haven’t been swimming since.”
She’s not the only woman who stopped training after crossing the finish line. With the countless training guides available to coach us through our first triathlons, many women have attempted one. But fewer return for seconds. So how can we gain enough momentum to continue training and racing?
Here at the Specialized Women 2011 launch, Rachel and I (plus a dozen others) have learned from Canadian Olympic coach Barrie Shepley. He offered world-class coaching and shared the secret of life—as a triathlete. Now it’s my turn to share. Here’s the magic formula that will reel any girl into triathlon for life.
Skill: Learn good form and technique for running and swimming. It’s slightly less important for cycling. Barrie recommends a triathlete dedicate at least five years of race experience to really “get” triathlon and to feel fully confident in each sport.
Strength: Train well—not necessarily with more intensity or for excessive distances but rather strategically.
Endurance: Gain it gradually and safely. Race the distance you trained to complete; sprint-distance workouts won’t build enough endurance to sustain you through an Olympic distance.)
Flexibility: Barrie recommends dynamic drills before workouts and yoga after runs.
Speed: This aspect may be excluded for some athletes, depending on goals and ability.
Other tips from Barrie:
Train for your body type. We cannot stress it enough. Determine whether you’re an endomorph, a mesomorph, or an ectomorph and train accordingly. For example, an ectomorph with narrower shoulders will not be able to swim the same distance that a mesomorph will right away.
Practice transitions. Even world champions have been disqualified for forgetting (in all the excitement) to wear their helmets.
Do brick workouts beginning about 10 weeks before your race.
Avoid injury by mixing it up. For example, run three times a week—maximum. It’s better to fit in three quality runs each week than to beat your body through several miserable runs. Try for about three swim and bike workouts each week (if you can) too.
Set goals you can manage considering your time, talent, and current fitness level.
If you’re like me, the first race may be enough to hook you. After completing my first triathlon three years ago, I threw up (too much energy gel; not enough water) then cooled down and immediately asked my training buddy, “When do we do that again?”
Today’s practice sprint-distance triathlon with the other women here was my sixth.