General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Conflicting feelings of a beginner Rss Feed  
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2019-02-08 9:37 AM


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Subject: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
Hello tribe!

Wanted to know if any of you more experienced triathletes struggled with feeling overwhelmed or like a fraud when you first got into doing triathlons?

Specifically, I joined my local triathlon club and will be attending a few of its swim clinics over the next month. Part of me is like, "this is great, it should be really helpful," and yet the other part of me is like, "what are you doing? You don't belong there!" Even though the swim clinics are for beginners, like me!

I keep telling myself that 8 weeks ago I couldn't even swim a few metres, but after 10 lessons with a swim coach I can now swim a few laps freestyle (and a wonky breast stroke I'm working on), even though I have to stop and catch my breath for a minute or so at certain points.

My first triathlon — a Try-a-Tri — is June 2. That swim is 350 m. My goal race, a sprint, is July 21. That swim is 750 m. My thoughts lately have ranged from, "Oh my god, I'll never be ready to swim that length continuously," to "Will you calm the f*** down, it's only FEBRUARY and your endurance will improve with training!"

Is this type of thinking normal/anyone else experience similar?



2019-02-08 10:12 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be


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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
Self doubt is a natural part of challenging yourself. Being positive about uncertain outcomes is a key life skill. It requires practice. Following through on your commitments and goals will quell those voices in time. Self doubt starts to be replaced with belief in yourself. Keep doing the small things, they add up
2019-02-08 10:32 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
I'm not that far ahead of you in being a beginner, I remember those feelings & I was over trained for my first tri because that was the level I FELT I needed to be at. If you have a training plan, stick to it, and you won't have any problem with a try-a-tri or sprint in 5-6 months.

Remember there are exceptionally few people born able to swim/bike/run. Your tri club is probably excited to have a new member & to share their experience with you.

I do feel a bit like a fraud when people at work start asking me about my "Iron Man training". I sheepishly explain that I do the 5k version of Iron Man.
2019-02-08 10:44 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
I felt the same. Still do at times. My swim group is definitely 3 tiers and thankfully we have enough lanes at the pool to divide us accordingly. My coach and the others training are super helpful and have never made me feel like I'm out of place. Most of them started off the same way you did. They've been through it all and are usually very willing to make you feel welcome and help in anyway possible.
2019-02-08 11:19 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner

Honestly, I feel more like a fraud now than I did in 2005 when I started triathlons.  I haven't participated in a triathlon since 2014.  

Some of what you describe comes from our mature brain where new and unknown is considered risky and therefore scary.  Immature brains don't suffer this same limitation which is why 5-year-olds climb trees and jump down steps and run into the street without looking.  Some of that "maturity" is warranted, but sometimes, it gets in the way of further growth and that's what you're experiencing now.  Get reacquainted with your 5-year-old brain at least a little.  

Each club may have it's own dynamics.  Some are like BT, generally friendly and welcoming of newcomers and excited to have new recruits.  Others are like Slowtwitch (assuming it's still around) where more advanced participants may appear intimidating and even hostile to newbie questions.  I hope your's is more like BT.  (As an aside, we had a lady in our club who was Xterra WORLD CHAMPION in her age group, but she was very unassuming.  It was often months into being part of the club that new members found out about her accomplishments.)  Hopefully, your club is more like BT.  

 

2019-02-08 12:15 PM
in reply to: McFuzz

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
No worries, the best ...life changing decisions... and questioning your choices will come on the race day
All of the "what the hell am I doing????" at the beginning and middle, to "when is the next race?!?!?" at the finish

Enjoy the process!


2019-02-08 12:53 PM
in reply to: #5255161


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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
I remember not feeling ready for my first 70.3 until I hit the water. There will always be nerves when doing something new. Only way to get rid of those nerves is to show up and do it. Don’t let worry and nerves distract you from the fun and accomplishment of the training.
2019-02-08 2:47 PM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
Totally normal. You belong in a beginner swim class. You'll be fine.

Honestly, reading your post brought back memories when I started out - I miss that feeling. It's all exciting and new - enjoy it!! The sport is addicting in a lot of ways and after your first race you'll be hooked. Just focus on finishing and having fun for now.

I'm at the point now where the novelty has totally worn off (started in 2001, done a lot of races, all distances, nothing fast - just a mid-pack finisher). So much so that last year I trained as if I was going to do a Half IM and never registered. Didn't do a single race. I'd rather just train. And this year, I haven't even bothered to get on my bike. I still love to swim (!!), run and I lift once a week. And that's enough for me right now. Who knows, in a few years I may get the urge to race again.

But those first five to seven years or so? The best!
2019-02-08 3:17 PM
in reply to: Parkland

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
Welcome to triathlon! You are not a fraud. If you were a great swimmer then I would be more concerned with you being a triathlon fraud! JK. Seriously, enjoy your journey, enjoy the fitness, and have fun. I have really never met anyone in triathlon that wasn't welcoming and helpful to beginners. This is the ultimate team sport in a way that we are all trying to improve together. Your club will be lucky to have someone that wants to improve. All you need to have is the desire. You have come to the right place. Lots of great people and information here to help.
2019-02-08 3:36 PM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
It's typical, but I was so naive I didn't even think about it much in my first tri.

500 yard swim in my first sprint tri. I had been mtn bike racing and did some on road duathlons before, but wanted to to the full tri.

Thought I'd be ok and ended up side stroke, breast stroke, back stroke, some doggie paddle... it was UGLY and even though I "practiced" I had no clue. Even though about jumping out on the other side of the pond and quitting. Somehow made it in to shore in dead last... ignorance was bliss as I would not have done the race if I knew it was going to suck that bad.

That was 15 years ago. I've now done 6 full IM's, 13 HIM's and several other distances.
Consistently can swim 1:40 per 100 meters for 3000 meters continuous... while not elite, better than average.

Just takes time and dedication and you have to start somewhere!
2019-02-08 6:35 PM
in reply to: TriJayhawkRyan

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
Like a few of the other posters in this thread, I've been at it for a while. Even so, the memory of feeling like I was crashing the party when I showed up for those first few races is totally fresh in my mind. I can only recommend what's pretty obvious; do your training, show up at your club events/training sessions/when you get to registration on race day, walk in like you own the place..

Good luck with your training and let us know how it's going...


2019-02-09 9:47 AM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be


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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
When you race, go in the water late in the pack and you won't worry about keeping others back. My first triathlon, I breast stroked the 400 yard swim (another reason I chose to go in later and stay away from other swimmers).

Triathlon is great because everyone of every ability can participate. No one is choosing teams and leaving anyone out. I know of no other sport that a rank amateur can be out on the field / course with pros. You can't go out and take batting practice with your local pro baseball team nor will you do any shoot arounds with NBA guys. But you will be on the same course and cross the same finish line (albeit a bit later) as pro triathletes. I think that's pretty cool.
2019-02-10 6:50 PM
in reply to: HaydenHunter


21

Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
Thanks everyone for your feedback and for sharing your experiences.

The first swim clinic yesterday was great! The coach filmed us all swimming, which was very helpful, and we left with solid drills to work on until the next clinic.

It was good to actually be among other beginners. There I was wondering if I'll have built up enough endurance to swim 750 metres in July while another swim beginner attendee is taking part in an Ironman in the same month!

Another note to self: Trust this training process. Rome (or triathletes) weren't built in a day.
2019-02-11 4:22 PM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner

You'll get there.  Can you post a video of you swimming?  It just seems like you have some technique issues that are causing you to have to stop and catch your breath. Just some random thoughts that might strike a chord...

1. You might be over-kicking for your fitness level.  That will wear you out.

2. Are you breathing every 2 strokes?  Air is good.  Some coaches want you to breathe every 3 strokes (it helps to balance out the stroke) when you're developing your technique but if you are racing or going for distance you need to breathe as often as you feel the need to.

3. Are you holding your breath when you put your face back in the water.  Carbon dioxide will build up in your body if you hold your breath and tire you out.  Turn-inhale, turn-exhale.  It takes a little while for a beginner to time the exhalation rate to the coincide with the stroke rate. 

4. Are you lifting your head to breathe or rotating to the side?  Lifting your head will drop your legs...you'll end up having to work harder if the front half of your body is higher than the back half.

2019-02-11 4:39 PM
in reply to: #5255184

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
Why can someone go from 0 to sub hour IM swim within a single year? Despite hard work, is he really talented as well?

I'm already putting more than 7 km per week swimming, doing intervals, technique and also OW every week for at least half a year, and recently joined a squad as well, and my 1.5 km time only decreased from 35 to 31 - 32 minutes, very far away from sub hour IM swim (I joined an OWS competition of roughly that distance and need 86 minutes). Even people just finished the beginner class joining the squad for the first time are faster than me.
2019-02-11 4:54 PM
in reply to: triathlete_to_be

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner

Well...I did a Sprint Triathlon 8 years before the race that I consider my first Triathlon.  I had friends doing a spring Triathlon and they wanted me to do it with them.  I didn't have a bike and I didn't have access to a pool to train in.  I wanted to say no, but I figured that I could fake my way through a triathlon and still have a good time at the event with friends.  So I signed up for the race and did my favorite 16 week half marathon training plan so get in as good of shape as possible for the race.  Did I feel like a Fraud?  NO.  I just felt like a runner who was doing a one time cross training event on a borrowed bike and jammer swim trunks, googles and swim cap that I had bought the night before the race. 

 

You are lucky that you have a pool, swim lessons, and a Tri Club.  The only year round public pool for 50 miles of me is a 15 yard exercise pool with no swim lane.  The closest Tri Club is 2 hours away from me and I don't have a clue where I could find someone that could offer me swim lessons (and trust me I need them).  

The race that I consider my first Triathlon was the April 25, 2015.  It was a local race with the starting about 10 minutes from my home.  It had a 1.2 mile open water swim in a large lake.  I got a 4 month gym membership on New Years day (in a different city/state than where I live now that had a 20 yard pool with two swimming lanes) and started swimming.  My first day in the pool I couldn't go 20 feet without panicking for air and having to stop.  I didn't give up through.  I watched dozens of youtube videos to try to figure out what I was doing wrong and figure out how to improve.  After my first time in the water I spent the next two weeks at the pool with my hands on the wall the whole time doing breathing drills.  Once I got the basics of body position and breathing down I spent the next 6 weeks doing drills in the water.  With 8 weeks to go before the race I could swim about 800 yards.  I then spend the next 8 weeks building my swim endurance.  I didn't care how slow I was.  I just cared how far I could swim.  On race day the furthest I have completed in a single swim workout was about 1500 meters.  My only goals on the swim was to stay relaxed, swim as smooth as possible, and to stay in the front crawl the whole time.  I was not worried about beating anyone else.  I was just there for the experience.  seven hours later when I finished the race (which was 3 hours longer than anything else I had ever done in races or training.  I felt as good as if I had won first place.  Did I feel like a Triathlete.  NO.  Did I feel like a fraud NO.  I never told anyone I was a Triathlete.  I just told people that I was going to do a triathlon and that is what I did.  Triathletes were people that could swim/bike/run.  I was just a runner showing that I could set goals to do hard things and complete them.  



2019-02-11 5:29 PM
in reply to: miklcct

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner

There are very few people that can go from 0 to sub 1 hour IM swim in one year.  If they have done so, I would guess they are either genetically gifted and/or they were on a swim team in their youth.  1:33/100 meters = 1:25/100 yards for an hour is not something someone can just plop in the pool and do.  Those per 100 times are not exceptional for someone that grew up swimming on a team, but they are exceptional for adult onset swimmers.  Btw, a 3-4 minute in your 1.5k time is huge!  Nice work and keep at it!  You'll keep improving as long as you put in the work (although it might take about 20k/week to really jump forward).

 

2019-02-11 5:50 PM
in reply to: miklcct

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner

Originally posted by miklcct Why can someone go from 0 to sub hour IM swim within a single year? Despite hard work, is he really talented as well? I'm already putting more than 7 km per week swimming, doing intervals, technique and also OW every week for at least half a year, and recently joined a squad as well, and my 1.5 km time only decreased from 35 to 31 - 32 minutes, very far away from sub hour IM swim (I joined an OWS competition of roughly that distance and need 86 minutes). Even people just finished the beginner class joining the squad for the first time are faster than me.

First answer is that person swam competitively as a child and *knows* how to swim fast even if they haven't swam in years.  
Guys that could go 16 minutes for a mile in high school can be 50% slower (24 minutes/mile) and still do the IM distance in an hour.  

Second answer is that person is naturally gifted to swim fast and worked hard to exploit that talent.  

Third answer is the swim was short.
IM distance in 60 minutes works out to 1:25/100 yards.  Certainly within reach for a previous competitive swimmer or the freak.  
If it was 400 yards short (10%), the pace could be 1:35

Fourth answer is the swim was current aided.  
I did B2B in 2014 and finished the swim in 48:00 where my other 2 IM's were 1:10ish.  The fastest swimmer that year was 31 minutes I think.  

 

2019-02-11 10:48 PM
in reply to: McFuzz

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
Originally posted by McFuzz

Originally posted by miklcct Why can someone go from 0 to sub hour IM swim within a single year? Despite hard work, is he really talented as well? I'm already putting more than 7 km per week swimming, doing intervals, technique and also OW every week for at least half a year, and recently joined a squad as well, and my 1.5 km time only decreased from 35 to 31 - 32 minutes, very far away from sub hour IM swim (I joined an OWS competition of roughly that distance and need 86 minutes). Even people just finished the beginner class joining the squad for the first time are faster than me.

First answer is that person swam competitively as a child and *knows* how to swim fast even if they haven't swam in years.  
Guys that could go 16 minutes for a mile in high school can be 50% slower (24 minutes/mile) and still do the IM distance in an hour.  

Second answer is that person is naturally gifted to swim fast and worked hard to exploit that talent.  

Third answer is the swim was short.
IM distance in 60 minutes works out to 1:25/100 yards.  Certainly within reach for a previous competitive swimmer or the freak.  
If it was 400 yards short (10%), the pace could be 1:35

Fourth answer is the swim was current aided.  
I did B2B in 2014 and finished the swim in 48:00 where my other 2 IM's were 1:10ish.  The fastest swimmer that year was 31 minutes I think.  

 



16 minutes for a mile is world class for men and faster than world record for women! I mention "from 0 to sub hour IM swim", i.e. I have already excluded the set of athletes doing competitive swimming in high school. Even 25 is a dream for me, and I can't even think of reaching the elite standard of 20 minutes for a mile even I totally focus on swimming combined with little running. (I'm not a serious triathlete but I am an elite orienteer, and training to become a marathon swimmer as well)

I think my rate of improvement is too slow, I dropped only for about 3 - 4 minutes in my 1.5 km time in half a year given my beginner speed, I was expecting 1 minute per month improvement until somewhere around 28 minutes. Therefore I am disappointed on this.

Am I using a wrong training method on my intervals? Initially I was doing 100 m intervals on 3', and I improved gradually from returning on 2'11" on average to 2'0"; then I decreased the interval time to around 2'30" and eventually 2'20" and still OK on keeping it (my latest set of intervals is 15 x 100 m on 2'10" returning on average 2'1", but it is in a short course pool). I simply failed to sustain anything below 2'0" / 100 m even with longer rest.

I'm really looking forward to resume my USRPT training next week when the pool I use reopens. Last year before the pool closes, I was working on USRPT sets of 100, starting every 2'20" and returning within 2'5"; the first time I tried I got my first failure at the 8th rep, 3 days later I improved to 24, and another 4 days later I actually completed the set without a single failure. The feedback is fast enough that I can see improvement within a week!
2019-02-14 8:11 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Conflicting feelings of a beginner
I would go shorter than 100’s if you’re focusing on improving your speed. Ie. 25’s and 50’s with equal rest. Maybe something like 25’s on 50 secs trying to hit 25 secs for each one.

Edited by JoelO 2019-02-14 8:14 PM
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