I am new to this tri thing. I want to do a Sprint Triathlon in 6 months...HELP!

author : acbadger
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I am new to this tri thing. I used to run quite a bit and worked up to a 13 mile run once, did some 10’s, as well as a lot of 10K and 5K races. That was 7 years ago. Now I am older, fatter and without a partner. Enough of the sob story, PLEASE advise me. I want to do a 5K next month and I can now run about 1.5 miles at a 9:30 pace. My bike is brutal. I do about 6.5 miles on hills with a department store mountain bike at 12 mph. I think my swim is good (bust my bubble if its not)…about 800 yards in a pool under 18 minutes. I want to do a Sprint Triathlon in 6 months…please give me some pointers. Oh, I’m 43 years old and about 25 pounds overweight.



OK, first thing is first…lets roll up our sleeves and dig into this with reckless abandon!

First, with your upcoming 5K, I strongly advise you to check out the “Couch to 5K” training schedule that BeginnerTriathlete.com provides to its viewers. This training schedule is a GREAT way to get back into running safely and wisely. You will want to take your time and gradually build your endurance. Once you get to a point where you can run the 5K consistently and no aches/pains, perhaps plugging in a once-a-week—and once-a-week ONLY—bout of interval training/pick ups wouldn't hurt either (since it is the shorter 5K distance for which you are looking to train). Just make sure no nagging injuries creep in and your body can handle it. 


Keep the intervals simple until your fitness level improves. Try running Fartleks out in your neighborhood. They are easy to do and don’t require a track or fancy machinery. I also recommend intervals for you since you have a running background already. Just listen to your body and don’t push too hard your first few weeks out. Graduate to your 5K pace sprints/intervals when your cardiovascular/skeletal system feels stronger and more capable of handling the quicker pace.


For now, work on picking up your pace (5 to 10 seconds faster than your normal pace) for anywhere between 30 seconds to a quarter mile sandwiched with a good 5 to10 minute recovery (SLOW JOG) on your next short run.

As for your bike…I have to be honest with you, I started out on a pretty rough bike too. My bike actually broke during my very first triathlon, so I feel your pain! My advice is take it to a local bike shop, get a tune up and be sure it is safe for riding. If you find you really like competing in triathlons, you can upgrade to a road bike or triathlon bike when you feel you are ready. Just be sure to get out and ride it on the terrain you’ll be riding in competition. A mountain bike is a lot heavier than a road bike and will take more effort to use for training.


You can also break up your bike training by doing some work in a spinning class (offered at local fitness centers) where your instructor will cue you on adding resistance to simulate hill work, doing speed (sprints) and working on endurance (flat) rides. It’s really a great way to get in shape, get a good sweat on, and work on sport-specific training. Just don’t get dependant on the indoor classes. Remember, there aren’t any wind, traffic or road hazards to contend with when you are inside attending a spinning class. Keep it as real as possible.

Your swim is not bad—not bad at all. Just be sure, when you start training for your sprint in 6 months, that you take some of your swims to the open water. I know you’ve probably heard me say this a million times, but swimming in a clean, chlorinated, weed- and fish-free pool is an entirely different world than swimming in a lake, pond or ocean which is filled with wildlife, currents and vast temperature changes! Check out the USAT (www.usatriathlon.org) website for wetsuit rules as well. You may also want to purchase a swim workout book to get an idea of what you should be doing when you are pool swimming. Some of the books also include VERY helpful swimming drills that will improve your stroke, form and overall swim time!! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!!

Now, as for the age and weight issue you addressed…age is just a number my friend! You are only as old as you feel. Snap out of that “I’m too old” mode…after all, 43 is young and FABULOUS!! Once you start getting more cross-training into your schedule you’ll see your body start to change and your weight will start to drop. You also have to be sure to get a couple days of resistance training on your schedule. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn throughout your day, even at rest! This, too, will add to your weigh loss process. '


Keep in mind that you have to watch what you eat as well. Always have breakfast, eat a SMALL meal every 3 hours after breakfast and don’t eat 2 to 3 hours within bedtime. Take baby steps to start. Use this advice I gave you and let me know how it goes. Give it 2 to 3 months of dedication and hard work and I guarantee you will see results and feel like a new person…oh and did I mention, you’ll be twice the triathlete you ever thought you’d be!!




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date: October 30, 2005



Four Sprint Triathlons and 2 Olympic Distance Triathlons. Several marathons and Boston qualified. Because of my new found love of these sports, I got my Personal Training Certification and USAT Level I Coaching Certification so I could help others attain their goals!



Four Sprint Triathlons and 2 Olympic Distance Triathlons. Several marathons and Boston qualified. Because of my new found love of these sports, I got my Personal Training Certification and USAT Level I Coaching Certification so I could help others attain their goals!

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