Some quick bearings.
The average Olympic triathlon is comprised of a .92 mile swim (this can be up to 3 miles longer if you can’t swim straight in murky water or if you swim for the wrong buoy), a 25 mile ride (on a bike, not in a friend’s car), and a 6.2 mile run – in that order, on the same day, with one of the many counter intuitive goals being to transition from one sport to the other as rapidly as possible. No chit chat, no soodling, no nap, no espresso. In fact, the transitions are actually timed, which had I known, I would have spent a lot less time lying on the beach after the swim.
There are shorter ones called Sprints (1/2 the distance of the above) and longer ones – the ½ Ironman and Ironman. For those of you with great aspirations of becoming single (or remaining single) and/or who only need to spend approximately 37 minutes a day at the job, go for the Ironman, which involves swimming the English Channel, biking from Vancouver to Cancun, and then running two laps around the state of Colorado.
Theoretically, you start training for the Olympic about 6 months out from your target race, keep a daily workout journal, follow an increasingly rigorous training schedule (significant chunks of time), eat well (an entire series of blog entries unto itself), and get a lot of rest. For anyone with a job and family, it’s really no more demanding than adopting a colicky set of newborn triplets.
Driven this year by a somewhat inane fear that overconfidence from last year’s success (I finished) would sabotage my training, I got on the training ball a month ahead of schedule. I joined the local Tri club early (February), and dusted off Friel’s The Triathlete’s Bible the same night. More structure. More process. More planning. More miles. More spinach. More almond milk. More laps. More overall manliness.
The result of this year’s first foray into the Tri-zone was a migraine and an uncontrollable urge to lie down for several months. Periodization, training by heart rate, intensity vs. duration, proper nutrition, transitions, peaks, intervals, bricks – a bevy of basic concepts that can be readily summarized by the following formula:
That may be an oversimplification for many, but fortunately there are lots of helpful and detailed charts in Friel’s book as well, which also double as mappings of the trajectories of sub-atomic particles following collisions in the Large Hadron Collider. I gave the book to my 10 and 12 year olds (who will be running the “kids tri” the day before the main event) and told them to read up.
And then I went for a 6 mile run, which reminded just how simple the process can be: “Do.”
Run, swim, or pedal something, and make that a priority every day. Having mastered the first half of the “idiot savant” equation, I’m three weeks into that brilliant strategy, and I plan to have a serious training plan (a big fat complex one) no later than June.