I’m now into week 5 of being a ‘triathlete’.
I knew I’d enjoy training for a triathlon. I love running, don’t get me wrong, but I used to swim heaps, and have always really liked cycling, so I had an inkling that doing all three would suit me well. Training for the marathon this year meant that I had little to no variation in my training (which was fine, Hansons is amazing), but the past 4 weeks have been ace. I’ve loved being on the bike, loved being back in the water and I am really feeling the benefits of all the miles I did for the marathon. I may be jumping the gun a bit: it’s still nearly 10 weeks until the big race in Marlow, but so far, so good. I’m tired, hungry and sore pretty much everywhere, but I am loving playing at being a triathlete.
What I have found the hardest about training for the bike and the swim is the total reliance on other people not to be d*cks. When you’re running, you can run away from everything. You can choose a route where you don’t have to be bothered by anyone else. Even on the dreadmill, you are in your own – somewhat hellish – bubble. Maybe I am just super intolerant (probably true, I can’t handle gluten or dairy, so certain types of people is a strong possibility) but I can get awfully bothered by others on the bike or in the pool.
Pool etiquette is a tricky one, I get that. Apart from ‘no heavy petting’ and ‘no bombing’ there is little instruction out there on how one should behave when swimming up and down a pool in a straight line. But some people get it very, very wrong.
1) It’s not OK to stop just before the end of the pool. The lane rope turning to red doesn’t mean you’ve finished.
2) If there’s a girl in the lane, it doesn’t automatically mean you’re faster than her, just because you’ve got speedos on and she’s in a flowery hat. If she catches you, let her pass.
3) It’s worth practicing swimming in a straight line before you head into the narrowness of lane swimming: just sayin’.
4) No standing around chatting at the end of the lane, it leaves no room for a-turning.
5) Washing your bits in plain view of us all at 7.30am is wrong.
But Drewbies, I hear you all cry, how can other people wind you up cycling? Surely it’s just you, your hat, your chamois, your snacks and your clippy shoes? No, sadly this is not the case. Have you ever tried cycling along a cycle lane that runs parallel to a pedestrian walkway? Walkers seem to lose the ability to stay in lane when the sun is out and they have an ice cream in their hand. Car drivers hate us, roundabouts are terrifying and the sight of a bus makes me feel a little bit sick in my mouth. Also, people drop glass and other hazards in my path.
However, I promise I am enjoying the transition. I am hungrier than I have ever, ever been before, my legs hurt, my arms hurt and I am in bed by 10 every single night without fail, but I love it. Mark is training too, which means we try and time our sessions to be at roughly the same time, so we get so see each other occasionally. Much as I really didn’t like all the faff that comes with cycling, I am starting to really look forward to long rides, and I had such a brilliant day out cycling from London to Brighton with the gang – a journey we couldn’t have run quite so easily (or with as much snacking).
My body is starting to get used to the change in training too. For a while, cycling just made my quads BURN and in the days after a swimming session, I couldn’t move my arms, but slowly, surely, I am getting stronger and things hurt less. I am also getting my upper body back, which is exciting, even if I do look like a man in drag when I wear a dress and heels now.
I would recommend triathlon to anyone who is even considering doing one. It’s fun, it’s varied and you get less injured (so far!). I’ve got my first race in 2 weeks’ time in Burgess Hill (all about the location, me) and I’ve seen enough improvement in my swimming to ask the organisers to move into a faster swimming start.
For those that care, this is what my training looks like each week (and me being me, it doesn’t change much week on week, and I rarely skip a session…)
Monday – am: gym session (deadlifts, squats, that sort of thing)
pm: run speed session on the treadmill (I am following the Hanson marathon speed sessions)
Tuesday – am: swim (around 2K – 2.5K, mixture of drills and intervals)
pm: indoor bike (different interval sessions that I have stolen from a variety of sources and am rotating. I have also made some of my own up, which are particularly horrible)
Wednesday – am: swim (around 2K. 2.5K, mixture of drills and intervals)
pm: tempo run (building to a max. of 9 miles)
Thursday – am: indoor bike (as Tuesday)
Friday – am: weights (more throwing heavy things around)
pm: steady run (6 or 8 miles)
Saturday – am: cycle to parkrun (smash up parkrun) cycle home
Sunday – long bike ride (2 -3 hours)
I also cycle to and from work every day, which means I have so far totted up over 550 miles in 4 weeks – I could have swim, biked and run to Dundee from Brighton. Which is cool.