Triathlon Training Ahead

I’m in a bit of a training slump for triathlon for the past few months. I had thought that signing up for Eagleman would help to get me back on track, but so far it has still been tough to find consistent motivation. I thought this would be a good time to step back and look at how I plan out my triathlon training.

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Swim exit at Eagleman

This Is Not Normal

So first of all, I don’t work a standard Monday through Friday job during normal hours. I work an average of three 13-hour overnight shifts each week. Right now they are grouped so that I work four shifts on one week and then two shifts the next. This might sound like I have a lot of free days to train, but it takes another day to recover from those night shifts, as well as some napping before heading in for the first night shift.

All of the triathlon training plans that I have seen so far assume that you have something close to a traditional schedule. The long workouts fall on Saturdays and Sundays, with a rest day on Monday in most cases. The workouts in the plan are structured in such a way that you’re rotating through sessions of varying intensity in the different disciplines in a way that makes sense. If you stick to the plan, it scatters the swims, bike sessions, and runs in an order that (probably) won’t overwhelm your legs all at once.

Add Some Swords

fencingpodium

Summer Nationals Veteran Women’s Sabre Team event – 3rd place.

On top of swimming, biking, and running, I have been fencing for over twenty years and practice for 1 to 2 hours twice a week. This adds another leg-heavy workout to my training, but I’m actually much better at fencing than at triathlon. Old injuries and just practical scheduling keep me from training more than that in a high-impact sport with a lot of repetitive hand and arm motions.

So how do I work around all of my scheduling weirdness? I pretty much make it up as I go. For some people, a triathlon coach may be helpful, but I don’t envision myself hiring one anytime soon. I also squeeze in at least an hour of weight training once a week with a personal trainer and that helps to keep me free from new injuries. I’d love to make it into the gym for that twice a week, but that rarely happens.

What Have I Used?

I started out my triathlon training by keeping it very simple. I already had some cycling experience but I had to learn to run and swim. I bought some real running shoes and started running only a mile at a time until I could tell if my ankles would tolerate it at all. Once that was going well, I signed up for swimming lessons at the local YMCA.

When it was time to do my first race, I had bought a Garmin 920 and used one of the sprint triathlon training plans on the Garmin connect training log. This was pretty simple and the workouts were all short, so I just squeezed them into my schedule where I could.

Garmin Connect

Garmin Connect features sprint and Olympic distance triathlon training plans. Access this by buying a Garmin device.

By the time I was ready for Eagleman training for my first 70.3 distance race in 2017, I needed something more. My husband pointed me toward Trainer Road, which is primarily a cycling platform that integrates with an indoor trainer. We had just purchased an indoor trainer because I was going to need to start my plan over the winter. Trainer Road has triathlon plans also, and while they don’t integrate into any specific device, I could read the workout listed there and then just go do it (for swims and runs). For the swim workouts, I’d jot down the sets on a small Post-It note and then tape it to my water bottle.

HalfBuild

Example of a triathlon training plan on Trainer Road. The bike workouts are used on a power-based indoor trainer. The swim and run workouts are text descriptions.

The plans on Trainer Road got me through Eagleman in 2017, and the Rev3 Quassy Half and Ironman Lake Placid in 2018. The site has options for sprint, Olympic, half, and full distance triathlons. Pick from three options of level and time commitment for each distance. The plans are built in blocks, starting with base fitness, then a build phase, and if you have time for it, a specialty phase. Look around at the plans and then count backward from your race date to see when to start each section. I had built in several extra weeks because I knew I’d have to take a break for certain travel weeks, fencing competitions, and a snowboarding vacation.

Going Forward

Now that I’ve signed up for Eagleman for 2019, I needed to think about how I planned to train again. I looked over plans on Trainer Road and found that it now offers a calendar option. This lets you pick a plan, decide which day of the week you prefer to start on, and then import it into those dates. From there, you can click and drag workouts to different days if you need to. The swim and run workouts also show up!

Trainingplan

This is an example of how a training plan looks after you import it into Trainer Road’s new calendar feature.

If you click on a swim or run workout in the calendar view, you can see more details. I think I’m sticking with Trainer Road for my training for Eagleman again. As the weather turns in the spring, I will do more of the rides outdoors, but the application even lets you import your outdoor rides into the calendar so it’s all visible in one place.

RunWorkoutTR

Close up view of a run workout as seen through the calendar view in Trainer Road.

So that’s my plan for this upcoming triathlon season. What other platforms have you used and found helpful for your training? Do you have an abnormal schedule that makes it more challenging to train? Let me know in the comments below!

Race Preparation and Predictions – It’s Almost HERE!

I started this triathlon journey almost two years ago when I watched my brother, sister-in-law, and cousin complete the Ironman 70.3 in Racine, Wisconsin. All of the race excitement and their hard work made me wonder if I could ever complete the same feat. In a few days, I’ll find out.

Drake Shorts

My brother in his signature flag shorts in Racine.

When I started trying to dabble in triathlon, I didn’t know if I’d be able to run very far, or for repeated training sessions after my previous ankle injuries and surgeries. I had to take it pretty slow, but I gradually built up the miles and fitness.

From my first triathlon (Rock Hall Sprint) in Maryland to a better effort in the NJ State Triathlon, I feel like I have continued to improve in all parts of the sport. My brother and the rest of my family was there cheering me on, as well. That first day was particularly tough, and their support was very much appreciated.

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Cheering me on in Rock Hall.

And now: Eagleman. In four days I will race my first Ironman 70.3.

Eagleman is a 70.3 mile race on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay. That means that I will swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles back-to-back. I have done each distance individually at different times, but all together? I expect it to be a special type of hell.

Oh, and it’s traditionally hot, sunny, humid, and windy at Eagleman every year. The forecast is currently calling for a high of 87°F, high humidity, and some sun and clouds. The wind will be tougher to forecast.

Why did I pick this race, you may now be asking? Well, it was reasonably close to home and fell on a weekend that I was free. Oh, and my brother needs revenge upon the course. He raced in Eagleman last year and did not finish. Apparently the run is brutal, with full sun and radiating black asphalt. Unless you’re really fast, you will enter the lava fields of Eagleman in the full heat of noon. At least the entire course is flat.

I thought this would be a good time to think about my goals for Sunday. I feel ready for either a wetsuit or non-wetsuit swim (this will depend on the water temperature on race day). There seems to be a good amount of overlap between my fencing leg muscles and cycling muscles, so the bike segment will be the strongest part for me. I have to resist the temptation to push too hard on the bike.

Running is still pretty tough for me, but I have completed two half-marathons (13.1 miles) in preparation for Eagleman. My running goal is to run the entire run, only walking to hydrate at the water stations. If I try to drink while running, I will probably choke or drown. I want to finish strong, and I’m hoping that I don’t puke.

For specific times, here is how I break it down:

  • Swim – under 1:00 hour, ideally 0:45 minutes, but this could change depending on wetsuit vs non-wetsuit swim
  • Bike – 3:00 – 3:30 hours, but this is where I feel like I’m guessing the most. I could probably do it in under three hours, but then will I be able to run?
  • Run – 2:30 – 3:00 hours. My PR for the distance is closer to 2:22. I blame short legs.
  • Transitions (the part where I swap out equipment between each event) – 5 minutes each? depending on whether I need a bathroom break or not.

So on the high end, I should finish in 7:30, but would really like to be done in under 7 hours. If things go surprisingly well, could I be closer to 6 hours? I have no idea.

Oh, and you can track my progress on race day, if you’d like. The main Eagleman site should have live tracking. My bib number is #1362 and my swim wave begins at 7:36 a.m.

I’ll check in again after the race!

See my Eagleman race report here.

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