Group training and some reading

70.3 Austin is 17 weeks away. I’m one week away from my training plan. The volume looks a bit intense, but this weekend, the advice I was given was to be careful on the run, but go ahead and up the bike volume. My swim will be 2x a week, about 1500 and 3000 yds, so nothing monumental there… Anyway, my plan is imported into Beginner Triathlete, and it’s on a spreadsheet. Because the volume looks a bit heavy, I will be making changes as I go if necessary. I have also told myself that I will not stress out if I miss one workout a week. If it was one of my long days though, I will make it up by replacing a short day with a long day… unless my body feels tired. I’m going to have fun, I’m going to get some good mileage in. I’m going to train safely. I’m going to succeed.

I’m going to have to pay some serious attention to my nutrition to help my body adjust to new demands.

I went to an open triathlon training session this weekend. It was sponsored by a local coaching group. I was curious to see two things: 1. If the coaches running the clinic were worth looking in to, and 2. if group workouts might be my thing.

1. The clinic was divided into A groups and B groups. I was in the A group for all three disciplines. For the swim, they had two paddlers out and sent the A group out to a buoy, north to the next buoy, and back. Then the sent us on the same route – southbound – into the current. They offered some tips and instructions. They talked about not rushing into the water on a swim start… but I would rather get spike my HR getting out there than spike my HR due to the frustration of having to swim around everyone. For the B group, they were way more personal.
The A group set out on a 30 mile ride, while the B group did a 10-miler. We had someone leading the group, and someone riding around within the pack. I was hoping for a little more one-on-one with one of the coaches, but the most feedback I got was to stay in aero.
We regrouped for the run, and I learned that I was almost the last cyclist in – the slower people in my group turned around early. So, I changed and got ready for a 3 mile run… The coaches said to head out on the run and get warmed up – and then they’d analyze form if we wanted it. I’m really big on the idea of what works for someone doesn’t work for everyone. My physical therapist told me my gait is fine aside from my right knee dropping inside when I step… so I honestly wasn’t interested. My running is slowly getting back on track and I’m making a conscious effort to bend my knee properly and avoid heel strike when possible. I’m happy with my form.

2. On the swim, I was right with a woman the entire time – on both swims. It was nice to be out there and practically be matched stroke-for-stroke with someone else. It’d really encourage me to hit the open water a bit more often if I had a comparable buddy. As for pool swims though, I’m content on my own. I like doing my workout on my schedule. I often go to the pool at the same time as Patrick, but we do different workouts.
We set out on the ride and I found myself leap-frogging with the same woman I swam with! I was pretty excited about it – until she bailed 10 miles in – 5 miles short of the turn-around. That’s fine, but it made the ride a little more lonely. On the way south after the turnaround, the wind got pretty serious. Some girl I didn’t know was drafting off of me. She wasn’t *right* behind me, but too close for comfort. It wouldn’t bug me, but I feel like she should have passed and let me draft for a bit. I tried to drop her a few times, but she’d catch up at stop lights. She almost hit me when I stopped at my car, too. I’m just not comfortable being that close to someone I don’t know who doesn’t really know what I’m doing.
As I said before, most runners were gone when I got there. I found two girls to run with. One quickly dropped us, and the other started walking around the halfway point. It was a little frustrating.

If the purpose of this event was to gain new clients, I wasn’t impressed. I don’t think I got personal attention except when I was hanging around after most people had left. With their Half Ironman coaching offered at $150/month, I would need more convincing… something as simple as a coach riding with me for a mile to chat, check form, and, well, coach. That would have been cool on the run, too – though not necessarily for an entire mile. Some personal feedback on the swim would have helped, too.

Their Sprint/Olmpic plan was MUCH more reasonable ($100 for a 9-week plan & support). If anyone reads this in South Florida (Broward County) and is relatively new to triathlons and looking for a coach for sprint or Olympic distance races, shoot me a message. I think that’s their niche.

As for group training – I think I’d get frustrated. I’m willing to compromise my workouts to a point… but the fact that everyone was either too fast – I’d get dropped – or decided to shorten their workout… it was discouraging. I think that group just didn’t hold the like-minded people I was looking for.

So, I’ll stick to my home-made plan and my solo training – occasionally accompinaied by friends that I can talk into joining me for some of the volume. Oh, and reading most things that I can get my hands on. So far, my shelf includes:

Be Iron Fit (Don Fink) – This book focuses a lot on time management. It’s inspired me to do their 21-day challange. Don explains that if you want to give morning workouts a try, you should stick to it for 21 days. It’s long enough that it gives your body a chance to adjust, but short enough to not be tortuous. I’m on day 1. I’ll let you know how it goes. The plans in the book are based on time and heart rate. It has training tips, and short stories of people who have a lot less free time than I do yet still find time to train. I like to use some of the workouts and HR Zones to plan my specific workouts.

Training Plans for Multisport Athletes (Gale Bernhardt) – It has really short plans (6-13 weeks) and really long plans (26-52 weeks), and not a lot right in the middle. I see this book as a benefit If you’re already swimming, biking, and running and want to find a plan to take you to your first or fastest tri that’s coming up quickly. It’s also beneficial to someone looking to really make multisport events part of their lifestyle. The 52 week plan is for an Olympic distance race! It does talk about deviations from standard tri plans for duathlons, off-road tris, and general endurance. It also has a section on individual workouts that I find pretty useful.

The Triathlete’s Training Bible (Joe Friel) – This book has a LOT of information. It was really helpful as I was trying to figure out the general structure of my plan. It can be a bit overwhelming if read cover-to-cover. It is definitely an excellent reference book when you have something specific you’re looking for. I just used it to try to dial in my bike fit after swapping my saddle. Most importantly, I used it to determine hours per week and how to divide those hours among individual workouts.

I think that’s about enough for now. This week is going to be crazy busy. I’m looking forward to a three day weekend!

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