This past Sunday, I completed my first sprint triathlon.
The experience was eye-opening and extremely rewarding.
The event is broken into 3 parts, completed for time:
I don’t have a background in swimming. I grew up riding my BMX bike everywhere, but never have used a bike with gears. The most distance running I’ve been required to do in my athletic career was a 1-mile run for time. Aside from that, I mostly trained shorter sprints for my sports (football, basketball, baseball, track).
My goal was simply to finish the event. I didn’t have a specific time I wanted to hit, I simply wanted to test myself and get outside my comfort zone.
Training for the event…
Step 1 - Learn
For this event, I educated myself on the basics of how to train for a sprint triathlon. I didn’t’ want to go too crazy with my research, as I knew that doing the actual event would be a the best teacher.
Step 2 - Commit
After my initial research, I committed myself to swim and run 1-2x per week, and bike 1x every 2 weeks. The specifics of the training were less important to me than simply committing to the process of doing it. I lifted weights 2-3x per week to maintain my strength leading up to the event.
Step 3 - Do
Organizing each week and prioritizing this training was the hardest part. Once I planned the work it was easy to do. Knowing that I had a timeline until the test held me accountable on the days I wanted to skip a workout.
Competition and testing are essential because they provide brutally honest feedback.
Feedback is the only way to identify opportunities for improvement.
Once we receive that feedback, we can then continue the steps to progress all over again.
What did I learn?
Swim - I found out very quickly that open water swimming needs to be the priority leading up to the event. I probably spent 80% of my training in the pool, compared to about 20% of open water swimming. I never practiced swimming away from the shore. I did all of my open water swims along the beach. The psychological component of being completely surrounded by water when you’re physically exhausted can really send you into panic mode. I learned that I need to split my swim training into 2 parts: distance training and speed training. I spent most of my time doing intervals of 100-200m and only practiced the full distance 2-3 times. Moving forward, I’ll need to get in a pool 2x per week to train these different components. The offseason will be done nearly entirely in the pool to build the physical capacity. When I’m 2-3 months out from the next event I will shift the bulk of my swim training into the open water.
Bike - Luckily the leg training we do in CrossFit really translates to biking. I have a background of riding around so I’m comfortable enough being on the rode and balancing. What I noticed most was the difference a quality bike can make. Most competitors had legit road bikes, with an amazing working knowledge and skillset of operating those bikes. If I’m going to be competitive, I’ll need a real road bike.
Run - I need to get faster! My speed is limited to shorter sprints because that is what I’ve trained my whole life. Most of my training was long-slow-distance. I need to improve my 800m, 1-mile, and 5K times over this next year. This will require me to put in speed workouts at the track.
The next step becomes an honest evaluation of my commitment to improving for another sprint triathlon. I want to do a minimum of 4 CrossFit workouts per week. This means that I can commit 2x per week to developing my swimming and running in the offseason.
Over the next week I will be making a plan for myself to do weekly.
The journey to progress can be done by repeating the above-listed steps:
While my triathlon experience is just one example, this process can be applied to any aspect of your life.
Action Steps - pick an area in your life that you’d like to improve. What’s holding you back? Is it your knowledge of the subject? Is it your commitment? Is it your lack of action? Try this process out on yourself and email me if you need help!
EVERY 2:30 x 4 SETS:
15 Unbroken Deadlifts @ 50% of 1RM
Max Unbroken HSPU
Tabata Burpees (score is lowest round)
800m Run for time (sub 1,000m row if needed)