Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Strength Training - A Triathlete's Best Friend

I've always included strength training in my training plan so it isn't exactly something new that I just started doing a couple of years ago.  What changed in my training in January 2011 is that I went from only doing strength training twice a week for 30 minutes to at least 5 or 6 times a week for 15 to 30 minutes.  I can't believe the difference it has made in my muscle strength and endurance.

I always thought in order to have endurance, I had to spend hours on the bike or in the pool or running for miles and miles.  I know I still need to do that if I am training for a half Ironman or Ironman triathlon or a half marathon or marathon.  You have to put the time in or it will hurt!  But for short distance, I am getting by with less time on my real bike and pool and more time in the gym doing weights.

And the difference is amazing.

One thing that helps is that I have been riding, running and swimming for years and years, probably 16 or 17 years now.  I can do transitions in my sleep.  I spent a lot of time on my bike, in the pool and on the road back in 2010 when I was training for Ironman Canada.  After the race, however, I was totally burned out.  This happened to me in 2004 after I did Ironman Florida as well.  I would love to be one of those triathletes that stay focused and motivated and can compete in one Ironman after another and several half Ironman triathlons in between, but I'm not.

Fifteen months is the amount of time it takes me to get over from burnout after I complete an Ironman. I've tried to trick myself into continuing on with training after an Ironman by signing up and committing to another one immediately, but it doesn't work.  I am so unmotivated that you would have to drag me to the pool and throw me in to get me swimming.  Biking for long distances too.

Running is about the only thing I can force myself to do and that's because it's easier, requires less planning and I love it. (besides there's the Running Nazi to contend with).    I love biking too, but it requires a little more planning and equipment.  And I am extremely lazy when I'm unmotivated.

After IM Canada in August of 2010, I had already signed up for Ironman Coeur d'alene for June 2011 and Hawaii 70.3, also in June of 2011.  I made it to Hawaii and was able to finish that race with very little training, but I knew better than to attempt to do a full Ironman with no training so I bowed out.

During that time after IM Canada, when I should have been biking and swimming in preparation for Hawaii half Iroman, I was in the gym doing weights and on the exercise bike.  I only rode my real bike three times during those months and I got in the pool a total of 5 times (okay maybe 4 times) to make sure I could swim the 1.2 mile swim without drowning.

One reason I was able to not only finish Hawaii 70.3 and not be so sore the next day I couldn't move, I blame entirely on the increase in weight training and core training, done every single day in the gym.  No 3 hour bike rides or 1 hour swim session.  I did 13 mile runs with the Nazi once a week and the rest of the time, I was in the gym.

I still haven't been on my tri bike much this summer or in the pool at all, but I did do a sprint triathlon last month and was only 1 minute slower than the last time I did that triathlon two years ago.   And my bike time was faster than ever.  It was my run time that was slower and it's the only thing I been doing consistently outside the gym.  I think that is because I haven't done speed work in a while and I've trained for and run two marathons which automatically slow me down.  Overall, I was very happy with the results and my first place age group finish.

I blame my increase in weight training on the Murph.  It's all he does and he's in great shape.  My job is to get him doing more cardio.  This hasn't worked.  He can be very stubborn and hates cardio.  It's amazing how he and the Boy can come up with a zillion excuses when they don't want to do something.

My new training schedule will more than likely have to change to include more time on my actual bike and certainly more time in the pool if I'm ever going to do an Ironman or half Ironman again (which I am),  but for now this plan is totally working for me.  I do 30 minutes on the exercise bike, elliptical or treadmill and then 30 more minutes on weights, stretching and core every single day.

I am loving not having to drag myself to the pool to swim mindless laps for an hour.  The sprint triathlon was a short 400 yard lake swim.  I wasn't fast, but I was the same as two years ago and my arms weren't tired at all.  They are very strong thanks to the weight training.  I love it!  Once I combine the two, swimming laps with the weight training, I should be a much stronger swimmer than ever.

Thanks Murph!

Add caption

1 comment:

  1. You really are incredibly disciplined. Very admirable!
    Weight training is working for you, obviously. Well done!