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Review of Mark Allen’s Strength Training for Triathletes

Review of Mark Allen’s Strength Training for Triathletes

(updated May 5, 2020)

In January 2020, we all learned about a new and aggressive coronavirus, COVID-19. The virus resulted in all gyms closing for several months. If you are like me, you do not have the equipment and free weights in your home to continue Mark’s program while quarantined.

Wanting, actually needing, to continue strength training, I found new ways to do so while my local fitness center remained closed. The training I have been following (and some that I have not yet implemented) and lessons learned are found in “What If You Don’t Have Access to a Gym?” (below).

 

Original post

After competing in sprint triathlons for eight years, my training had become sloppy. I had lost the discipline of the early years. I had nearly stopped strength training, focusing instead on cardio and endurance training. And to top it off, my performance was poorer. I was slower than ever and struggling with knee pain while running. At this point, I could have looked into using cannabis as a way of relieving me from my pain. I saw the mini bongs from FBG and read lots of success stories involving cannabis for pain relief online, but was worried that it may further reduce my energy levels.

 

Credible References for Strength Training

The article entitled “Mark Allen’s 12 Best Strength Exercises” jumped out at me as I skimmed my emails on a recent winter morning. Having read about triathlon for over eight years, I knew of Mark Allen and considered him a credible source of information.

I became even more interested in the plan once I realized that this strength training plan had also been a turning point for Mark. In the first full season after following this strength training program, Mark won the three international multi-sport endurance events, including IRONMAN World Championship in Kona-Kailua, Hawaii.

Around the same time, I read about Judy Cole, a 73-year-old ultra runner. Judy had started running every day during her early 30s. However, early on, she had problems with her knees. Following the advice of her running partner to strengthen her quads and hamstringsbecame a game changer”.

Judy’s experience sounded oh-so-familiar, so I committed to Mark’s plan.

 

My Initial Experience with Mark Allen’s Strength Training Program

This post is a journal of my experience with Mark Allen’s strength training program.

I first published this post after completing four sessions of the first, or adaptation, phase. I eventually finished eight sessions.

Now in the second, or endurance, phase, I am continuing to feel stronger. Exercises that were especially difficult in the first sessions are now easier. And, for the first time in months, I am running without knee pain.

 

Mark’s Best Strength Training Exercises

The table below lists the twelve exercises in this program. The table also shows the triathlon event(s) most impacted by the exercise. The original article includes videos that show how to perform each of them correctly.

Exercise Helps most with . . .
Lateral Pull-Downs Swim
Leg Extensions Run
Leg Curls Bike, Run
Bench Press Swim
Squats Bike, Run
Lateral Dumbbell Raise Swim
Calf Raises Run
Dumb-bell Pullover Swim
Backward Lunges Run
Bicep Curls Swim, Bike
Tricep Extensions Swim
Leg Press Bike, Run

 

 

Strength Training Restarted – Warmup and Cooldown

I start each session, no matter the Phase, with core exercises and 10 minutes of cardio to warm up. In August 2019, I made some changes to the core exercise routine based on the recommendation of Tri Swim Coach.

The latest core exercise portion includes one minute each of:

  • Plank – one minute.
  • Side plank – one minute on each side.
  • Bridge – one minute.
  • Abs – one minute of bicycle crunches – go to 3:00 in the Tri Swim Coach video. (Before August, I did a static crunch sitting up on the floor with the back at about 45 degrees off the floor and legs extended and on the floor. This is an alternative to crunches that have recently fallen out of favor with trainers.)

Before starting with the weights, I spend 10 minutes to finish warming up. This involves walking, jogging on an elliptical machine, or riding a stationary bike at an intensity high enough to break a sweat.

Throughout the journey, I have recorded the number of repetitions and weights for each of the exercises of each session in a Google Sheet. I have also noted when I could use a heavier weight in the next session and any pain or soreness I felt during or after the session.

After each session, I complete another 10-15 minutes of cardio. I then complete a sequence of static stretches of my hamstrings, quads, calves, and upper and lower back.

Progress is coming – slowly but surely. I have increased weights while doubling the number of repetitions. The amount of soreness in the days after the session has been much less. And, I have started to run again.

Periodically, I re-read the original article and watch the videos to make certain I perform each exercise using the correct form and breathing.

Leg exension exercise machine

Machine used for the leg extension exercise. Mark Allen’s program involves a mix of exercises that use free weights, weight machines, dumbbells, and body weight.

 

Endurance Strength Training – Phase 2

The main difference between the first two phases is that Phase 2 involves two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions (“reps”) of each of the exercises with 90 seconds rest between sets, rather than one set in Phase 1. As in Phase 1, I completed two sessions per week with at least one day, but usually three days, between them.

During Phase 1, I selected weights for each of the exercises for which I could complete 15 repetitions with good form. For some of these, I was able to increase the weight slightly during the four weeks.

In transitioning into Phase 2, I used the same weights as at the end of Phase 1. However, in the first two sessions, I completed only 12 (rather than 15) repetitions in each of the two sets (except for the squats for which I completed 15 repetitions). I did this following the principle of injury prevention that calls for increasing intensity gradually.

Increasing the intensity, time, or type of activity too quickly is one common reason for a sports injury. To prevent this, many fitness experts recommend that both novice and expert athletes follow the ten percent rule, which sets a limit on increases in weekly training. This guideline simply states that you should increase your activity no more than 10 percent per week. That includes distance, intensity, weight lifted, and length of your exercise session.” Source: Very Well Fit

Continuing with this principle, I increased the number of repetitions to 15 for the first of two sets in week 2; the second set still involved 12 repetitions. In week 3 and beyond of Phase 2, I completed 15 repetitions for both sets.

 

Restarting to Run

Also, early in Phase 2, I ran indoors on the LifeTime Fitness track for 10 or more minutes after weight lifting and before stretching. Another pleasant surprise has been the absence of knee pain during the run. This seems to confirm the theory that my knee pain resulted from weak hips and other leg muscles that are being strengthened in this program. How motivating!

Throughout this phase, I have increased weight gradually when appropriate following this guideline – whenever a weight is ‘easy’ in two consecutive sessions, I will increase the weight for the next session by 10% or less. I have increased the weight for some, not all, of the exercises balancing adding more weight and avoiding injury.

During this phase, I took a two-week break from the program because of illness, not injury. I have since resumed running on a regular schedule.

 

Lessons from Strength Training for Triathletes

I have learned some important lessons while using this plan:

  1. Be patient – the results one should expect from this training, and all training may seem to come slowly. Keep at it and you will eventually see results.
  2. Become familiar with the specific equipment you will use in the program. I did not seek an introduction from a trainer and found that I was learning how to adjust it by observing others, experimenting. I learned some things by accident, like how to add weight in 5 lb. increments on the machines.
  3. Add weight when after a few sessions (minimum of two) the weight seems easy. You can tell that it is easy when you can maintain good form throughout all the repetitions.

 

 

What If You Don’t Have Access to a Gym?

For many, the recent closure of gyms and fitness centers has put a halt to strength training with free weights and weight machines used in Mark Allen’s program. That is, unless you have these in your home, which I do not. While the gyms are closed or access to them is limited, you can consider the following approach to strength training.

 

Training for the Run

During a recent Stryd “For the Love of Running” webinar, Dr. Jinger Gottschall presented “six at-home exercises for a strong 3D core and improved run mechanics“. The exercises are best performed after the day’s run.

The six strength exercises include three bodyweight moves aimed at improving run mechanics. These are:

Dr. Gottschall recommends performing 100 repetitions (50 on each side for the lunge and abductor exercises), though I have gotten to 50 reps per session two times per week. I you want to increase the challenge, you can add weight. And, if you don’t have free weights where you are, then grab an empty water bottle or milk jug and add some water to it. Water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon (1 kg per liter).

The second part of Jinger’s session includes three core exercises (front plank, side plank, glute bridge) included among the five core exercises (one minute each of front plank, side plank on each side, glute bridge, and boat pose) that I perform.

 

Training for the Swim

During the quarantine, I also joined Tri Swim Success Online Triathlon Swim Training Program. As part of the membership, I received access to video with ‘dry land’ weight training exercises specific to swim fitness. Learn more about the video training here.

The dry land exercises make use of resistance bands. Since I have a limited selection of resistance bands, I have not completed all the exercises. Beyond that, I will soon be back in the open water; living next to a lake makes this convenient.

Interested in Joining Me?

If you would like to join me in following Mark Allen’s strength training program for triathletes, comment below or email me at seniortriathletes@gmail,com. I will share the Google Sheet with you so you can record your results and we can track our progress.

 

New to Strength Training?

You may be interested in this article from Silver Sneakers with advice on how to begin a strength training program.

 

To Be Continued . . .

This post was first published on March 14, 2019. The latest update was published on May 5, 2020.

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My Favorite Triathlon Websites

My Favorite Triathlon Websites
Running in the USA Home Page

The internet abounds with information about training, preparing, and planning for a triathlon. Through my years taking part in the sport, I have come across many websites, among the best websites for triathletes, especially those age 50 and over.

As its title implies, this post includes information about the websites I have found to be the ‘go-to’ sites for my triathlon journey.

Favorite Websites for:

Best Website for Planning Your Next Triathlon

RunningintheUSA.com is my first choice when searching for triathlons across the USA.

running-in-the-usa-dot-com is the best-website-for-triathletes-looking-for-their-next-triathlon

Running in the USA Multisport Events menu

Why I Started Using It

As soon as Joy and I decided to do triathlons in each of the states of the USA, I started searching the internet for websites that listed various races. I found several sites, some with a regional focus. Over time, I found that I relied more and more on Running in the USA.

Who is Behind the Website?

RunningintheUSA.com is the product of hard work and commitment of the husband and wife team of Bill and Mary Flaws of Waukesha, Wisconsin. According to the website:

“Mary is an avid runner, and Bill is sane. Mary does the website programming. Bill takes the pictures that are featured on the home page. We work many many many many hours scouring the internet, maintaining the information in the directories. This is our full-time life work. We don’t have other jobs. We barely do much else besides maintain this website. It is our life, and we love it.”

Video Demo of RunningintheUSA.com

Key Features

The site can currently be used to search a database of over 41,000 running races such as 5k, 10k, half marathon, and so on and over 2,700 multisport events like triathlons.

  • Search for triathlons by
    • Region
    • State
    • Type of multisport event (e.g. Triathlon, Duathlon, Aquathon)
    • Distance (e.g. Supersprint, Sprint, Olympic, Half Ironman, Ironman)
    • Date (e.g. month, date range)
  • Search for races in adjacent states on consecutive dates

Apparently, there is an important population of those who share an interest in completing races in multiple states. For this group, the site developers included a feature under the Multisport Events tab called ‘Double Stater’.

double-stater-menu

The “Double Stater” menu is used to search for triathlons held on consecutive days in adjacent states.

Other Sites for Finding Upcoming Triathlons

This review was first published in January 2019.

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Best Website about Sleep and Your Athletic Performance

Whether you are stepping up to the plate at a softball game or waiting for the starting gun at your next triathlon, the quality of the sleep you have had will affect your performance.

And as a triathlete, sleep will have played a critical part in your training. As I have noted in the post titled ‘Rest and Recovery – Why It’s Important for Senior Triathletes, sleep should be a key part of your training plan.

Tuck.com is a valuable website for those who are looking for better sleep or have questions about getting the rest needed for proper recovery. If you are someone who is passionate about health and fitness and are looking to start a blog of your own, but want to improve your social media accounts (Instagram for example) first, finding ways to get followers on instagram could be a good place to start. Following this, you can then start thinking about creating a blog which can give people advice when it comes to health and fitness.

Video Tour of Tuck.com

Pages Highlighted in the Video Tour

Pages of the Tuck.com website highlighted in the video review are:

Please check out Tuck.com and share your comments below.

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Best Website for Swim and Other Triathlon Training Gear

Triathlon is sometimes referred to as a rich man’s sport. This comes in part from the expense of registration fees, even though there are race organizations who are offering reduced fees. But that’s a story for another time.

Another reason that triathlons can be an expensive sport is because of the amount of clothing and equipment one needs purchase for training and racing in three quite different sports. Of course, much of it is unnecessary. As long as people have basic training wear, they should be fine to train and compete in triathlons. People can get some athletic clothing from websites like Imprint, they offer custom t shirts that are ideal for sports. Runners can get their clothing customized with their name or the marathon name, for example. That’s a great way of letting people know that you’re running the marathon. Perhaps seniors should just look for basic training wear, they don’t need to splash out lots of money on unnecessary clothing.

Meet SwimOutlet.com

SwimOutlet.com is the first place I go when looking for a new or replacement item for triathlon training or racing. This is also where my wife, kids, and grandkids go for their swim clothing and equipment. This comes from several years of shopping many sites and ending up purchasing items from the Swim Outlet site.

page on the SwimOutlet.com website for triathlon gear, one of the best websites for triathlon

SwimOutlet is a USA Triathlon certified multisport retailer.

While you should shop around, I have consistently found Swim Outlet to offer a full range of products in a range of quality and price points. And, prices are competitive and, many times, the lowest. Plus, they offer a price match.

Following is a quick tour of the SwimOutlet website.

If you prefer, you can watch the video on YouTube.

Video Script

Here we are at SwimOutlet.com website. To help you get started on your journey here, I want to highlight a few areas in which triathletes may be most interested.

First of all, at the ‘Gear’ then ‘Swim Gear’ tab, you can find everything imaginable for swimming no matter if you are a beginner or professional triathlete. With so many products to choose from, Swim Outlet helps shoppers zero-in on the right ones using product-specific filters such a size, brand, color, material, and price.

The site also includes several guides such as the one for sun protection shown here. You can find the link to this and other pages in the SeniorTriathletes.com post about my favorite triathlon websites (this post for those watching the video on SeniorTriathletes.com).

The ‘Triathlon’ link beneath the ‘Gear by Sport’ area under the ‘Gear’ tab, takes you to pages where you can find triathlon, biking, and running specific items. By the way, Swim Outlet is a USA Triathlon certified multisport retailer.

And if you are a Value shopper looking for the best deals, click on the SALE tab from the Home page. Here you will find good quality at the most competitive prices. For example, if you are looking for low cost jammers for your swim training, check out their grab bags by typing ‘grab’ in the search bar.

Take a stroll through the SwimOutlet site. I think you will enjoy it and be amazed at the wide range of products and their good prices.

Thank you for watching.

END OF VIDEO SCRIPT

Featured SwimOutlet Pages

Pages of the SwimOutlet website highlighted in the video review are:

Disclosure: Please note that SeniorTriathletes.com is a participant in the SwimOutlet.com affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to SwimOutlet.com. As an affiliate, I will receive a small commission for any purchases made at SwimOutlet.com when you use the link in this post.

Sales are common on SwimOutlet.com

SwimOutlet.com offers quality products at competitive prices.

Please check out SwimOutlet.com and share your comments below.

This review was first published in May 2019.

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Best Website for Nutrition and Hydration

If you have done a triathlon, there is a good chance you are already familiar with Hammer Nutrition since they sponsor many triathlons and endurance sporting events. In fact, you likely received in your swag-bag a sample of a Hammer Nutrition product – a Hammer Gel, Endurolytes Fizz, or one of their Energy bars.

Hammer Nutrition home page

I was introduced to more of the Hammer Nutrition products and how to use them by Senior Triathlete James Chapman at the Rocky Gap Triathlon in Maryland.

Then, when training for my first half marathon, I exchanged emails with Steve Born. Steve laid out a fueling plan for both my training and the race itself. Without the right fuel, an otherwise enjoyable challenge can become a disaster. I don’t go out on a long bike ride without a few Hammers gels – just in case.

Since I sweat a lot during exercising of every kind, Hammer Endurolytes capsules are also great for maintaining electrolyte levels.

You can take a quick tour of the Hammer Nutrition website by clicking on the frame below.

Video Review of the Hammer Nutrition website

If you prefer, you can watch the video on YouTube

Video Script

I am on the Hammer Nutrition website. You can see its contents by hovering over the four top-level headings – Top Sellers, Fuels & Supplements, And More, and Education.

Hovering over ‘Fuels & Supplements’ shows you the range of products for training and racing and for daily consumption. You can explore these further by clicking on one of the red sub-heads.

The ‘And More’ shows you ‘Gear’, including Clearance items and Electro Stimulation products which I have used and really enjoy. It also includes ‘Clothing’, ‘Coffee’ and ‘Body Care’ products with which I have less experience.

The fourth heading is ‘Education’ which contains a whole host of articles and quick-read advice pieces to help you learn about and fine-tune your fueling and hydration approaches for both training and racing.

As you can see, the site is easy to navigate. I recommend taking at least a few minutes to take a look around it. I am confident you will come away with some new and useful information.

Thank you for watching.

END

Featured Hammer Nutrition Pages

Pages of the Hammer Nutrition website highlighted in the video are:

If you want to receive a 15% discount on your first order with Hammer Nutrition, enter Customer Number 203519 when prompted.

To be transparent, that Customer Number is assigned to me. I will also receive a credit on my next order under the Hammer Nutrition Referral Program. If you like, you can also participate in this program once you have become a customer.

Please check out Hammer Nutrition and share your comments below.

This review was first published in July 2019.

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Coming Soon: Favorite Websites for

  • Triathlon Training
    • Swim
    • Bike
    • Run
  • Racing Advice
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Product Review: Nose Clip for Triathlon Swim Training

Product Review: Nose Clip for Triathlon Swim Training

Does water in your nose during swimming lead to sneezing or a running nose after your swim? How about congestion?  If you share any of these symptoms, you will also find my experience with a nose clip useful for your triathlon swim training.

 

I Love Swimming Except For Water In My Nose

I am comfortable when swimming, whether in a pool or the open water.

My breathing during both pool and open water swimming is comfortable and relaxed.  I exhale through my mouth and nose while my face is in the water.  This keeps me from taking in much water during the swim.  But, there is always some water that gets into my mouth and nose.

The pool water that gets into my nose will invariably result in a runny nose and sometimes sneezing over the next few hours.

When I swim in lake water, even the slightest amount of water in my nose will leave me with a plugged nose, making sleeping the next night difficult.  I blame it on an allergy to the algae in the lake water.

While a nasal decongestant will help reduce the congestion, I avoid using one until it is necessary.

In the past, I had tried a nose clip that I dug out of my wife’s gym bag.  However, it was more hassle than help since it slipped off my nose after a short time in the water.

 

Rethinking the Nose Clip for Triathlon Swim Training

Recently, I came across an article about Olympic swimmer and gold medalist Missy Franklin.  The article showed her wearing a nose clip.

This got me thinking.

Since I live near a lake, open water swim training is very accessible.  I decided that I wanted to solve the problem.

I took to the internet to review various nose clips.  For every positive review, there was an equally negative one.  In most cases, the reviewers with negative comments wrote of the clip falling off their nose.  Several even lost their clip during its first use.  No brand seemed to be immune from this.

In the end, I went to local sporting goods stores, finally finding a clip at a local REI.  I purchased the last unit of the only model they had in stock, the TYR Ergo Swim Clip.

You can also purchase the TYR Ergo Nose Clip at SwimOutlet.com.

Tyr Ergo nose clip for triathlon swim training

My experience with the TYR Ergo Swim Clip has been positive, especially with the clip attached to my swim goggles.

 

Protecting My Investment

The nose clip is inexpensive (around $5) so it would not be terrible if I lost it in the lake.

However, losing it would mean that I would be back to square one, getting water in my nose.  Also, I preferred to not be running around shopping for another if I were to lose this one.  Remember, my experience with nose clips was that they fell off.

I decided to find a way to keep from losing the clip in the lake.  The first attempt was to use some good quality dental floss to secure the clip around my neck (like a necklace).  This was similar to the design of the clip that I had borrowed from my wife, except that hers used a rubber strap.

I secured the floss to the clip using a loose knot around the bridge of the clip.  The knot was smaller than the ends of the clip so that it would not come off.  For reference, see the inset in the picture in this article for which the caption begins with “Here is what worked for me“.

 

First Open Water Swim

In my first open water swim of one mile, the clip came loose two times, the first time after swimming more than a half mile.  Since the process of coming off my nose was relatively slow, I could stop and reattach the clip before it came completely off.

 

Pool Swim

The second time, I used the clip in the LA Fitness swimming pool.  Again, I found that the floss holding the clip around my neck would catch on my face, occasionally tugging on the clip.  I was certain that this is the reason the clip started to come off my nose.

While in the pool, I also found that the nose clip did not sink to the bottom of the pool when dropped in the water.  Instead, it floated somewhat below the surface of the water.  Still, I was not giving up on securing it.

 

Second Open Water Swim

The next time, during an open water swim in a nearby lake, I attached the floss holding the clip to my goggles (see picture below).  The floss was still the original length; throughout the swim, I could feel the floss dancing around my face, occasionally catching momentarily on my skin and tugging on the clip.

Tyr-Ergo-nose-clip-attached-to-goggles-with-long-connection

Swim goggles with TYR Ergo Nose Clip connected by dental floss. In this case, the floss is longer than needed which caused it to catch on my face during the swim.

However, over the course of a mile, the nose plug came loose, but not completely off, only once.  Progress!

 

Third Time’s a Charm

Before the next lake swim, I reduced the length of the floss holding the clip to the bridge of my goggles so it was not brushing against or catching on my face.

Tyr Ergo nose clip for triathlon swim training

Here is what has worked for me for triathlon swim training. Swim goggles with Tyr Ergo Nose Clip connected by floss. The floss is secured to the nose clip by a knot that prevents the floss from passing over either of the two larger ends of the clip.

 

The result was exactly as I hoped.  The clip stayed on my nose throughout a one mile lake swim.  And, more importantly, there was no runny nose or congestion.

Not Used in Racing—Yet

I have not worn the nose clip in a triathlon.   However, I know I would have benefited from it in races involving open water swims, especially those in which the algae-filled water led to post-race nasal congestion.

An Inexpensive Aid for Triathlon Swim Training

If you have problems with water getting in your nose during swimming, the swim clip may be the solution.  You can avoid losing it—or worrying about losing it—in the pool, lake, river, or ocean by clipping it to your goggles using a short piece of floss or string.

 

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Book Review – Train to Tri: Your First Triathlon

Looking to complete your first triathlon? Want to inspire and motivate your children, grandchildren, parents, friends, or co-workers?

If so, Train To Tri: Your First Triathlon by Linda Cleveland and Kris Swarthout is for you.  This 246-page guide provides the essential information needed to prepare for your first triathlon.Cover of "Train to Tri - Your First Triathlon"

Authors: Linda Cleveland and Kris Swarthout, both USA Triathlon Level 2 coaches with lots of experience competing in triathlon and coaching triathletes.

Publisher: Human Kinetics

Who is this book for?

Train To Tri is written primarily for those considering or already committed to completing their first sprint or standard (formerly called Olympic) distance triathlon.

Even though it is aimed at first-timers, it is not just for those doing their first triathlon.  While I have completed over 40 sprint triathlons, I found several useful training tipsI have already put some of them to use.

 

What does the book cover?

The book opens with a 24-question Triathlon Readiness Assessment.  Results of the self-assessment help the future triathlete identify with one of three categories – bronze, silver, or gold – and select the training plan included later in the book.  This initial section also provides guidelines for choosing the specific race for your first triathlon.

I like the basic strategy of the first triathlon training plan laid out by the authors – to focus most of the training effort on your weakest leg.

You should focus the most time and effort on [your third strongest sport] to develop strength and endurance as well as improve technique. (page 9)

Gear

Once you decide to do a triathlon, you will quickly learn about the incredible amount of clothing and equipment (called ‘gear’ in the triathlon world) surrounding the sport.  Since not all the gear is necessary for your first triathlon, the authors distinguish between the ‘necessary’ and the ‘nice to have’ or ‘you can wait and decide after your first race’ gear.

 

Your Triathlon Support Group

Training with a group can provide the extra motivation needed to push through a training program and reap the rewards of completing your first triathlon.  A group can also help you to improve your technique more quickly.

In this chapter, the authors suggest ways to create a support network for your training in swimming, biking, and running that includes various clubs and your family, friends, and co-workers.

You may have various support group options.  For example, if you live in a retirement community, such as The Villages, Florida, you have a built-in support group in The Villages Triathlon Club.  Members train and race together with encouragement galore.

If you are working in an area without a triathlon training club in the area, you can create your own support group through a local fitness center, community pool, bike shop, and running store.  This provides flexibility to follow your specific training plan while enlisting the support of instructors and others with experience from which you can benefit.

Swim

The chapter on swimming covers the basic elements of an efficient stroke with illustrations for a proper freestyle technique.  I appreciated the suggestion for traveling and swimming, especially the advice for making use of the typical small hotel pool.

Interestingly, many triathletes find swimming to be their weakest sport.  If you are in that group, get comfortable being in the water and with swimming with other people as you will experience on race day.  Whether swimming in a pool or in open water, you will inevitably come close to, if not in contact with, other swimmers.  Staying calm is the key to finishing the swim.

If the race you choose includes an open water swim, you will want to practice swimming in open water to become familiar with ‘sighting’.   For safety reasons, I recommend adding the ISHOF Safe Swimmer (see also below) to your list of gear.

 

Bike

Most of us know how to ride a bicycle.  However, many have never ridden in a large group at speeds associated with a triathlon.

Therefore, the focus of this chapter is safety.  According to the authors, safety in biking begins with a review of the various components of the bicycle to make sure that they are each in good working order.   They also describe the most important cycling skills and suggestions on how to hone these, both individually and in group rides.

When riding on the road in traffic, you need to follow the rules of the road as if you were driving a car. (page 78)

Run

We all know how to run. Right?  Well, not necessarily in a way that is the most efficient or that minimizes the possibility for injuries.  About half of this chapter is dedicated to proper cadence (steps per minute) and body form.  The rest of the chapter introduces training with a heart rate monitor and training involving the three-run types included in the weekly training plans.

If you take one thing from this chapter, remember to progress slowly (the ‘10% per week’ rule) to minimize the likelihood of injury.  Unfortunately, we need to be reminded of this every so often.

 

Strength and Flexibility

Building strength and increasing flexibility are two keys to increasing your performance in triathlon.   For many of us who spend a lot of time sitting during their workday, lack of flexibility can be the major root cause of injury.   The authors show that a relatively small amount of time spent in strength training and stretching can lead to better performance and fewer injuries.  Plus, these are another way to ‘mix it up’ and keep the training interesting and fresh.

 

Nutrition and Rest

If we all know how to run, most of us are even better at fueling (aka eating).  The challenge is to eat properly.  It becomes even more complicated when we are exercising, burning more calories, trying to build muscle, and recovering from the stress of training.

Triathlon training can be a great way to shed pounds and improve your health.   Eating the right foods in the right amount and at the right time is the focus of this chapter.  The authors are clear: “Although your daily caloric burn will certainly increase based on your training volume, you don’t have a license to hit the buffet for every meal”.

The chapter begins by showing us how to calculate two important numbers related to exercise – resting metabolic rate (RMR) and caloric burn rate.  The authors discuss how to eat (or ‘fuel’ as they define it) throughout the day. This includes eating before, during, and after workouts.  Sample menus for triathlon training days help to illustrate the principles of proper fueling.

The chapter concludes with a discussion about the importance of rest within a process known as periodization.  The authors even provide a simple test to help us determine when our body is telling us to take a day of rest.

If you do not get adequate rest, the muscles will fatigue and eventually fail, resulting in injury. (page 139)

Training plans

It’s now time to put the information from the previous chapters together and begin to train for your first triathlon.   Sample 8-week training plans are provided for bronze-, silver-, and gold-level athletes for both sprint and standard distance triathlons.    I appreciate that the authors show readers how to tailor the plans to meet their particular strengths and weaknesses and their individual schedules.

 

Preparing to race

I love this section.  Here, the authors take the new triathlete down the ‘home stretch’ to completing their first race.

Filled with practical advice, the authors walk us through the two weeks leading up to the race.  With greater detail for race day, you can feel the thrill that begins upon waking and includes crossing the finish line and heading to the refreshment area for a cold drink and banana.

 

Why get this book?

Train To Tri is pragmatic and focused.  It includes essential information for each of the sports of triathlon.  The authors season the information with the nuances of practicing them within a triathlon.

You can trust the USAT-certified coaches with this ‘no-nonsense’ guide.

 

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This post was originally published on January 21, 2018.  It was updated on September 20, 2019.

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