General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Newbie completed first Olympic! Rss Feed  
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2019-07-10 11:45 AM


Subject: Newbie completed first Olympic!
Hi all!
I am relatively new to triathlon and completed my first Olympic Tri last weekend. There were a lot of positives that day. I somehow remained super calm that morning, I was able to swim steady and not get my heartrate too high even though my goggles were leaking and I stopped 3 times to try to fix them! I used advice I read on here to not be dizzy at the end of the swim which worked (thanks for that!) The bike felt pretty good. It was challenging but doable for me. The run was a bit of a mess. I couldn’t get into a groove. I think I would do things a little different from a nutrition stand point, and probably need to run more in the day time. The temps were not crazy hot, but still 25-30 degrees hotter than when I workout at 5am and I think it just got to me. Overall it was a great experience. The 2 things that are nagging me is the run (I came from running, so it was a bit disappointing) and the fact I finished 10th to last. I didn’t expect to even be in the top half, and I wish it wouldn’t bother me, but now I have been bitten by the bug and want to get faster.

My stats were 2:42/100 for the swim, 14.7 MPH for the bike with 1100 ft elevation gain, and 10:40 min/mile for the run. I could have easily been a minute quicker per mile for the run. I am eyeing another race on September 8th, so 8 weeks away from next week. I thought I should narrow it down and pick one thing to improve, and I was thinking it should be the bike. The reason I didn’t pick the swim is because I did hire a coach in February, I worked with that person for 2 months before she closed down her business. I had a hard time fixing my breathing position, and it is much better now, but still not perfect. However, I didn’t gain any speed from it. I’ll work on it in the off season and probably get another coach because I know that time is just terrible.

So with all that said, I’m trying to figure out the best way to use my time. It’s really hilly around where I live, so I haven’t followed any of the prescribed bike workouts. I just go for the time or distance it says. I honestly couldn’t figure out how to have high or low cadence when I’m constantly climbing or descending. I did find a route about a month ago that is less hilly. So should I just start doing the workouts the way they were designed and that will help? Should I add in an extra bike day? I wouldn’t be able to do it every week, but hopefully can manage to do it most weeks. I’m balancing working full time and a 2 year old and 5 year old. Should I strength train? I’m a bit loss as I know there are a million things I could do and I don’t know which one I should do at this point. It’s a bit overwhelming. Thanks in advance!

2019-07-10 12:15 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Newbie completed first Olympic!


I'm sure you're going to get plenty of ideas on what you should/could be doing.  But honestly, with a 2 and 5 year old to deal with, and that being your first Oly,  I'd just keep doing what you're doing.  Your fitness will improve, you'll enjoy it more if you aren't worried about hitting specific workouts, and your next time will improve if you pick a flatter course.  In other words, as a newbie, you have plenty of time to let triathlon make you crazy.....enjoy the ride right now. 

Consider this.....back in the 80's when we trained for triathlon we just went on rides and runs.  Sometimes we swam in master programs at the YMCA, but mostly we just swam.  There were no coaches, no websites, no garmin watches, blah,blah,blah......maybe a book or two that nobody read, and TRIATHLON magazine.  My point is this.....we just swam, biked, and ran as much as we could put up with.....not a single plan.  Everybody who stuck with it got faster, and it was a hell of a good time.  I eventually got a plan, and had kids, and worried about getting my workouts in and what I was doing wrong so that I could try to get faster.....but I never had as much fun as when we just did what we did and then raced.

Edited by Left Brain 2019-07-10 12:26 PM
2019-07-10 10:45 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Newbie completed first Olympic!
Congratulations! Doing a triathlon is no small feat, finishing a triathlon is no small feat.

I've been doing sprints, I'm going to do my first Olympic in September, so take my advice as you will.

The good news is you're a beginner, almost anything you do other than quit, will probably make an improvement. Stopped 3 times to adjust your goggles? That killed your swim right there. That should be an easy adjustment for next time. My swim is pretty bad, so I don't have much advice there.

On the bike, I'm a big proponent of training over gear, especially for beginners. That said, what kind of bike did you use? If you used a Mt bike or cruiser, borrowing a road bike next race should make a big impact. (just be sure to borrow it for a couple of training rides first) I wouldn't go out and buy a tri bike until you have a couple of seasons under your belt. I use an old steel frame road bike, but I still beat plenty of guys on carbon tt bikes.

I think the best triathlon purchase I've made was a magnetic trainer for $50 on Craigslist. I bought it because I was missing a lot of rides due to rain. Then I realized it was convenient for other reasons, I have two little ones too. Wife is out, youngest goes down for a nap, older one has some snacks, a juice box, and TV; I can get in 45 min or better ride without leaving the house. (On the other hand, if you're home to be interrupted, they WILL interupt you) Finally I have to admit that my sessions on the trainer are usually better quality than my outdoor rides.

And loosing weight. If you have 6 pack abs you probably don't need to loose any, but if you're like me, loosing a couple lbs will help. Just try to loose slow and steady, you don't want to loose muscle, or not have energy for your training.

Cadence; it probably isn't that important that you nail 90 rpm in a race, probably not realistic if its hilly. Find a fairly flat mile or two and do it at 80 rpm, again at 90 rpm, again at 100 rpm, just get an idea of what your shooting for. You can use a metronome app on your phone if you don't have a cadence sensor. A higher cadence (assuming yours is low) should help some with your run.

Running it sounds like you have some background, but here's a link to BerryP's write-up, an excellent resource.

If you aren't incorporating brick runs into your training, they should greatly help with your run off the bike.

A little Strength training is great if you can fit it in. Look up 30 min (or whatever time you have) bodyweight HIIT on YouTube if time/equipment is a challenge. I really need to start doing those again.

Triathlon has a lot of "best practices", "best gear", and "but the pros do..." For most beginners and age groupers consistant training, recovery, & nutrition are key. You can build up your gear while you're working on nailing those, and mostly ignore the rest until then.
2019-07-11 1:49 AM
in reply to: riles32807


Subject: RE: Newbie completed first Olympic!
Congrats !
2019-07-11 10:47 AM
in reply to: stephbaxter2

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McAlester, Oklahoma
Subject: RE: Newbie completed first Olympic!

I was right where you are 5 years ago.  Now I have a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old and have cleaned up the messy run at the end of my races.


My first triathlon I was 63 rd out of 90 people overall, 48 out of 65 males, and 7th out of 8 people in my age group.  I had trained for 8 months and was in the best shape of my life on race day.  My swim was what I was most worried about and I actually was 5 minutes under my goal time on that leg of the race.  I would have probably done okay on the bike leg if I didn't get two flat tires, but the run was brutally hot.  The race was in April and was done on the first day of the year in the 90's.   I was 25% over my goal time on the run.  It took me about 2-1/2 years before I could get my run under control and like you, I came from a running background.  


After my first race season, I did a 16-week bike-focused training plan when I did four hard bike work-outs a week.  They were all done outside on hilly terrain.  The hills didn't ruin the quality of the workout.  I felt that if anything the hills improved the quality of the workout.  During the bike focus, I did really really slow 5-mile recovery runs twice a week on the days that I didn't ride.  At the end of the 4 months, my run was terrible and my bike was about where I had started.  After adding regular running workouts back  I was running better than ever in about 8 weeks.  My second season my bike time didn't get much faster by and my run times didn't either.  I kept at it though and in my 3rd season seemed to turn to lightning on the bike overnight, and I while still not where I wanted to be on the run I was only about 5% over my goal times instead of 25% over.  In my 4th year, I saw more improvements on the bike and started to hit my goal times on the run.  

One of my running coaches told me that from coaching distance runners for 25 years he had learned that it takes about 3 years from people to peak in endurance sports.  So... don't get frustrated if you don't see immediate results.  For me, I was doing all the work for 2-1/2 years and didn't see much better results from what I saw after 8 months of training for my first race.  Then it was like a light had been switched on and all of a sudden all the things that I had been struggling with in races all can together at once.

The recommendations that I in my first year or two all said to focus on the bike.  I did that but after do a bike focus between my 1st and second season, then a swim focus between my 2nd and 3rd season I considered going back to the bike or back to the swim since my run was still by far my strongest leg.  I instead had a coach put me on a run focus.  I was happy with that because running was what came easiest to me.  looking back I think if I would have put more into my run in the first two years it probably would have been a good thing.    

2019-07-11 6:40 PM
in reply to: BlueBoy26


Subject: RE: Newbie completed first Olympic!
Thank you all for the well thought out comments and advice. I do agree that I should just enjoy it as much as I can and not worry too much. It's just an overwhelming sport to get into and I can spin my wheels about it at times. I'll try a few things for the next race and come up with a plan for the off season. I really enjoy triathlon and really appreciate the variety from each workout instead of running so much. Thank you all again!

2019-07-11 9:33 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Newbie completed first Olympic!

Originally posted by stephbaxter2 Thank you all for the well thought out comments and advice. I do agree that I should just enjoy it as much as I can and not worry too much. It's just an overwhelming sport to get into and I can spin my wheels about it at times. I'll try a few things for the next race and come up with a plan for the off season. I really enjoy triathlon and really appreciate the variety from each workout instead of running so much. Thank you all again!

There you go......Excellent!!  Carry on!

Remember, you already won when you completed your goal of an Olympic triathlon.  First or last, it makes NO difference.  I get the idea of wanting to be faster and finish higher, but just be comes with a price tag in money and injury of you get too crazy.  You're not going to the Olympics, and neither you, nor anyone else, will end up being more impressed if you finish faster.......your time doesn't even mean anything to anybody but you and a very small handful of people who show up on the same Saturday, and those folks will understand your accomplishment no matter your finish, or how expensive your gear ran an Oly distance triathlon, 99% of the population will never be able to say that!!  Enjoy the accomplishment.......or you'll miss all the joy of it.

Good luck in your next race!


Edited by Left Brain 2019-07-11 9:44 PM
2019-07-16 6:18 AM
in reply to: Left Brain


Subject: RE: Newbie completed first Olympic!
yes it's interesting too
2019-07-16 1:03 PM
in reply to: stephbaxter2

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Subject: RE: Newbie completed first Olympic!
Congratulations, I remember my first Olympic Tri was the Chicago Tri at the end of August 2017. What I did that following week was sign up for another Olympic tri the first weekend of October. So, pretty close to the same time frame as you. My plan in between the two was to swim bike and run as much as I had time for. It worked out pretty well and I was faster in every segment (by a little bit). I had a ton of fun with it and am still happily racing triathlon. I started working with a coach and following a structured program with a good amount of intensity. I have seen much bigger gains this way and enjoy the process.

In addition, It's never a bad idea to practice in the conditions you expect to see on race day. So, if you have time on a weekend to do a few runs in the heat that will help your mind and body adjust. Overall, do what you want to do. You already have the fitness to complete another Olympic distance and you will get faster. Enjoy the process because we spend a lot more time training than racing.
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