General Discussion Triathlon Talk » New to tri. How best to proceed? Rss Feed  
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2019-11-10 7:50 PM


Kodiak, Alaska
Subject: New to tri. How best to proceed?
Hello all! Thanks for taking the time to read and weigh in.

A little about where I am at currently:

I have been attending a Masters swim group for a few months and feel like my swim has improved a lot. No previous formal swim experience. I recently swam 1k in 29 and a half minutes.

I have been running 1.5-2.5 hours 2-3 times per week at a low HR (Maffetone method) for a few weeks now. I ran a half marathon in mid October in 2:47 on a hilly course. This was my first race ever and prior to the event my longest run leading up to it was 7 miles so I was definitely under prepared. I feel like I could already run it a little faster and feel better doing it.

I did some (but not a lot of) road cycling over the summer. None of it was long distance. I now have a trainer set up which I plan to train on through the winter.

Short term:
-I am planning to do the local sprint (1k lap swim followed by 5k run, then 20k bike) in Late April/Early May (date TBD).
-I am thinking about doing a marathon in June and/or October
-There is another local event in Late May that consists of a 41 mile very hilly bike, 9 mile mountain run, 1 mile lap swim. I would like to do the triathlon, but I am concerned about being ready for the bike in time. If not, I will just compete in the run.

Longer term
-I would like to do a 70.3. I think in 2021 is a good timeframe, but if I found myself feeling ready I might consider late 2020. There aren't any locally, so I would have to travel to it. I will try to fit it in a time that would double as a family visit or family vacation.

I tend to work 6 days on (Thursday-Tuesday) and 8 days off. When I am working I can train about an hour a day most days. When I am off I can train 2-3 hours a day. I attend Masters swim Tuesday and Thursday evenings whether I am working or not and try to do a lap swim on weekends that I am off. Running and bike training can be whenever.

I feel like the lowest hanging fruit right now is to improve on the bike.

How would you all suggest I proceed from here? How many workouts dedicated to each discipline? Long and easy on the bike for now or mix it up? If I do hard efforts on the bike is it going to affect my Low HR training for the run?

2019-11-10 10:38 PM
in reply to: #5263976

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Subject: RE: New to tri. How best to proceed?
Welcome to the triathlon world! You’re running into one of the hardest aspects of training which is figuring out how to set up your training.

The good news is that you already have a solid swim and run base from the sounds of it. I’d stick with what you are doing for those two disciplines for now.

You are correct in that the bike needs consistent focus and work. I would start getting in 2-3 rides a week. You want one ride to be an endurance ride where you cover your race distance and then some. Nothing special, just time in the saddle and getting the body used to the ride. Another session could be a 10 minute warm up and then do some harder intervals to build your top end and follow that up with a cool down. Doing a hard bike workout won’t affect your easy runs. There are tons of resources out there for bike workouts. The good thing about the bike is that you can do harder sessions without the added risk of injury like you have with running. Every plan needs a bit of intensity as well. Z2 stuff is great, but you have to have some Z4 stuff mixed in to improve your top end. Bike intervals are a great place to do that. I do 90-95% of my bike sessions on the trainer. It’s a great tool for fitting in workouts. Check around where you live and see if there are any cycling groups. Most groups do a long ride on the weekends and usually have a “no drop” option for beginners.

Bricks are good to do a few times just to give yourself a feeling for running off the bike. After one of your long rides, go for a 10-15 minute run to see how the legs respond. You don’t have to do a brick session after every long ride, just enough to get a feel. Some people like bricks for convenience. They’re already out sweating so it makes sense to get in a run as well.

You should be well prepared for the sprint. See how you feel after it and decide about the other triathlon. It’s quite a step up from the sprint and sounds like it’s a challenging course, so definitely mull it over before signing up.

I think a 2021 70.3 is perfectly reasonable and a late season 2020 70.3 may not be unreasonable. The issue with one in 2020 is that it takes a lot of logistics to race them. Some races sell out quickly, arranging travel can be hectic, time off from work, etc requiring people to plan a year in advance which races they’re doing. It may not be impossible, but it may force you to register before you are 100% sure you are ready to do it.

At the end of the day triathlon is all about your aerobic engine. You are doing right by doing mostly Z2 running and adding in the swimming 2 days a week. Add in 2-3 bike workouts and you’ll see some big jumps in your fitness.

Don’t forget about two other important aspects of fitness: nutrition and recovery. Your body may need time to adjust to adding in 2-3 more workouts a week. Don’t overdo it at the beginning and build into it.

Good luck!
2019-11-11 8:56 AM
in reply to: 0

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McAlester, Oklahoma
Subject: RE: New to tri. How best to proceed?

Originally posted by naponthebeach  I now have a trainer set up which I plan to train on through the winter.


This will be a big help.  There is a winter bike training plan in the Beginner Triathlon Training Section.  If you follow it you will see a lot of improvements. 

Originally posted by naponthebeach  

- I am planning to do the local sprint in Late April/Early May.

- I am thinking about doing a marathon in June and/or October

-There is another local event in Late May that consists of a 41 mile very hilly bike, 9 mile mountain run, 1 mile lap swim. I would like to do the triathlon, but I am concerned about being ready for the bike in time. If not, I will just compete in the run.


This year I did Sprint triathlons in Many, June,  August, September and then a Marathon in October.  The original plan was to do a Sprint, Olympic, 70.3, then the Marathon, but schedules didn't work out for races.  I still followed the training plan for the 70.3 bike and run when I was training for the August and Septemeber races and did a 10% increased long runs on the 70.3 run plan to prep for the Marathon.  The Marathon went great.  It was my 3rd marathon and the first two I did on run training only.  I was much better prepared with the triathlon training than I was with the run training only.  When I did the run training I was running 38-55 miles a week for a total of about 5-6 hours a week.  When I was doing the 70.3 training I was only doing 20-38 miles a week running but I was doing in a 3-3.5 mile bike ride every week to build my endurance for the marathon and was going about 7-9 hours a week of total training. Many running plans encourage cross-training to prep for marathons.  Training like a Triathlete is a great way to do this.

Originally posted by naponthebeach 

-I would like to do a 70.3.

Start small.  If the Sprint Triathlon is too easy then you will be fine at a longer race.  If the Sprint half kills you, then continue to build your training volume but do some more short races to gauge your progress and fitness.  The best thing you can do right now and for most of the next two years is build your base.

Edited by BlueBoy26 2019-11-11 8:59 AM
2019-11-11 9:45 AM
in reply to: naponthebeach

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: New to tri. How best to proceed?
Going to add something that others seem to have overlooked. Unless my math is off, at nearly 3:00/100m, there is definitely some low-hanging fruit to be had on the swim--probably body position and/or breathing. Many master's groups don't do enough focus on swim mechanics for beginners, just provide workouts, with at most occasional tips on form. They're really oriented toward those who swim for fitness and/or competition, not people learning to swim. Maybe you could spring for some private lessons--most masters coaches can do those on the side for an extra fee. At your current speed, especially if you cannot hold that pace for a longer swim, you may be pushing up against time cutoffs for the swim, especially in a longer event like 70.3. Even if the swim isn't your strength over the short term, you don't want to start the race stressed that you can finish within the time limit, or wear yourself out for the next two legs.
2019-11-11 1:49 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner


Kodiak, Alaska
Subject: RE: New to tri. How best to proceed?
Thanks for all of the replies everyone. I definitely am not in a hurry to sign up for a 70.3, it is just a longer term goal so I thought I would list it in my original post to provide a little more back ground.

Parkland- Thanks for speaking to the idea of varying the intensities of the bike efforts. You kind of confirmed what I was thinking. In regards to the group rides, there have been attempts to start them in my town before but they have never stuck. I have a few acquaintances that ride so as I get faster and get close to their speeds I will probably start riding some with them.

Blueboy-I will check out the winter training plans for the bike trainer, thanks for the suggestion. I am focused on base building and am glad to hear that the workouts each discipline help to build the fitness in the other disciplines as well.

Hot Runner- I am also considering some swim lessons as suggested. My masters swim group is pretty small and usually only has 3-6 people show up, so I get a good amount of attention from the coach. I know that my 1k time is still quite slow, but I feel like I am making pretty good progress as I am spending much less energy swimming than I was and can swim faster and further than when I started. I will talk to my coach about lessons. I know he is an experienced swimmer and triathlete, but I am not sure how much teaching experience he has with the technical aspects of swimming. If he feels that he is not the right person, I might have to look for other options or wait until I am visiting family in a larger metropolitan area. For the moment I am satisfied with the progress I am making between the masters swim and watching effortless swimming on youtube. Its not ideal, but it has been helpful so far.

Thanks everyone for your input so far!

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