I enjoy training for triathlon immensely. The sport attracts me with multidimensionality and the numerous skills involved. There is so much room for growth. It’s an art really. I will regularly share some of my observations as I progress towards my next triathlon goal - completing a half Ironman.
After raving about Zwift and following its 4 month training program I chose to continue my training using TrainerRoad software instead. These two programs cannot be directly compared because they serve completely different purposes. While Zwift provides a 3D virtual world to make indoor rides exciting TrainerRoad focuses instead on a quality selection of training programs and virtual coaching.
What do I mean by virtual coaching? During each session TrainerRoad guides you with advice regarding correct technique and the training session itself. The implementation is very simple - just regular text messages. But for a newbie like myself getting bite-sized pieces of fundamental cycling wisdom is invaluable.
For example, I had a bit of a toe-numbing problem. My toes would get numb by the middle of the training session. I have partially solved the problem by sliding my feet forward in relation to the pedal spindles and also by moving the saddle slightly forward. However, numbing did not disappear completely. Out of despair I contemplated buying road-specific shoes and pedals. But during one of the first sessions TrainerRoad addressed the issue by explaining the correct kick-and-pull pedaling technique. The idea was reinforced by the single-leg cycling intervals. Numbing went away once and for all!
Same goes for other basics, like breathing and body position. Explanations are brief and to the point. The ideas are regularly reminded and reinforced through practice.
Initially, I chose a medium-volume training program and sticked to the assessed FTP value of 204 watts. After a couple of training sessions I realized this is above my level so I reset my FTP at 190 watts and chose the most basic training program. There’s no point trying to jump ahead of myself. Overtraining leads to exhaustion and loss of motivation. I’m in this sport for the long-haul so I must not torture myself if I want to go on.
I’m all set with cycling for the next 3-4 weeks. Afterwards I’ll choose a training program that builds on top of the current one. I feel TrainerRoad will provide me with sufficient training material for the next couple of months.
I started with swimming in October 2015. I went for a week worth of private coaching. I never trained so my form was as bad as it gets. At the time I had no idea how front-crawl works but I knew an efficient swimming form is vital for competition. Following that session I made a habit to visit a local swimming pool 3 times a week. I alternated sessions between doing crawl-related exercises and longish 2k breast-stroke swims. The latter also improved my breathing and endurance.
In March 2016 I signed-up for a front-crawl course. At the moment I can swim crawl 50 metres non-stop and actually feel relaxed and enjoy it! The next step is to do 200-300m stretches without any rest. During a typical training session I combine exercises (e.g. kickboard) and training intervals, typically 200m long. In a few months I’ll need further coach input to improve my form but at the moment I have plenty of practice to complete on my own.
This is the saddest part. While my fractured tibia seemed to be completely recovered it started to act up again. About two weeks ago I started with 4 short runs per week (each 3km long). After the 5th session I felt my tibia again. It’s nowhere close to the pain I experienced during the half-marathon when it actually fractured but I must be careful not to make it worse. I wouldn’t even call it pain. It’s more of a whining feeling.
I have decided to space out the runs until there’s no pain remaining. I’m looking at a run every two weeks right now. I definitely won’t make any aerobic advancements with such a tempo but my primary target is to get the bone strong again. I also consider incorporating intervals into the sessions. And by intervals I mean interleaving walking with running.
As I mentioned in the cycling section I wanted (already a wrong attitude) to buy road-specific shoes (likely black SIDIs) and road-specific pedals (likely Shimano 105). Better pedaling technique solved the problem so for now I can keep my trusted Shimano XT pedals and Specialized Rime shoes (which are walkable off the bike).
Despite previous discomfort I re-installed a proper racing seat – Brooks C13. Turns out I had incorrectly kept my body on the seat. The correct posture keeps both siting bones in contact with seat wings. Instead, I had been leaning my hips too much forward, causing too much stress on the pubic bone. Once I changed my posture comfort issues went out of the window!
I’ve done a first pass through “The Triathlete’s Training Bible” – an excellent book for anyone who’s seriously interested in the sport. It’s much better than a few titles I had previously laid my eyes on. The book is ripe with subtance and with experience distilled from a career of coaching. I feel I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself. Most of the advice in the book applies to experienced athletes with at least a couple of years of experience who are aiming at improving performance. My current goals are far less ambitious. I want to gracefully finish a half Ironman. But I figure there’s no harm knowing what lies ahead and avoiding common pitfalls.
Since I’ve started regular triathlon training (roughly January 2016) I’ve lost 5 kg. The current weight seems to be stable at about 74kg. I’m not yet doing anything special in regards to nutrition yet but I’m planning to introduce a post-training recovery drink next month.
That’s about it for now.