Great job on finishing your first week of triathlon training! How are you feeling? You may have noticed some new muscle soreness from doing more activity than you are used to. Did you feel organized? Fitting in a short workout each day doesn’t take a lot of time, but it does take some organization. And how was your nutrition and your sleep? Now that you are a triathlete in training, it’s time to take these two things seriously. I’ll present a few tips in this article to help you keep your new workout habits on track, and then I’ll walk you through week 2 of the training plan. Next week and the week after, we’ll talk about sleep and nutrition as well.

Sore muscles
Muscle soreness is caused by small amounts of damage to the muscle fibers from performing new activities. It is generally a good sign at the beginning of an exercise program indicating that you are giving your muscles new challenges. Muscle soreness shouldn’t last more than 2-3 days, and if it lasts longer than that, it’s a sign that you may have gone just a little overboard on your initial workouts. If that’s the case, learn from the experience. Make your next few workouts very gentle, just enough to get the blood flowing and wake up the muscles, but not so intense that you risk doing additional damage to muscles that have not yet fully recovered.

Sore joints?
Ligaments and tendons take longer to adjust to new levels of physical activity due to relatively less blood flow compared to muscles. This is one of several reasons why you should begin a new exercise program slowly and ease into it. Soreness around your joints is not something you should try to “work through” by continuing to progress your exercise program. Take some additional time off, decrease the length of your next workout or skip the next workout entirely. When in doubt, slow down or leave it out!

Being organized for your workouts is no different from being organized in other areas of your life. If it takes extra time to gather your workout clothes, find your running shoes, biking helmet, water bottles, stop watch , etc, you will lose precious workout time and probably your motivation to workout as well.

Take the time each evening to prepare what you’ll need for the next day’s workout. This is especially true if you are trying to do a workout in the morning. For running, set out your running shoes, clean socks, a workout shirt, hat, sunglasses and your ipod (if you use one). For swimming, have your (clean, dry) swim suit, swim cap if you have long hair, goggles, your workout and a dry towel ready to go in a mesh duffle or bag. Biking requires the most equipment and searching for these items is likely to zap the motivation for your workout as well. Be sure you collect the following items in one place: Helmet, cycling shorts, cycling shoes, gloves, bike computer, water bottles ready to fill, and pump up your tires to an appropriate pressure the night before.

Immediately after each workout, change your clothes putting your dirty workout clothes in the hamper, place your shoes where you can grab them for the next workout, empty and rinse out your water bottles especially if you used a drink mix, put your bike away and hang your suit and or towel up to dry.

Following these easy steps significantly improves the possibility of you completing your workouts rather than skipping them due to disorganization.

Before the weekend comes I have visions of rising early, putting in a nice long bike ride, getting home feeling a healthy sense of accomplishment by having my workout already accomplished. The rest of the day is mine, free to relax, read or hang out at a coffee shop.

But what usually happens is that I sleep in, take a shower, put on a comfy tie dye & sandals, fix a cup of tea, read the paper and dream about the perfect bike ride I’ll take later in the day. More often than not, I never get changed into my workout clothes and end up stressed about fitting in my 2 hour ride before the sun goes down. Assuming it doesn’t rain in the afternoon.

Costume is the simple solution to this problem. Rather than think about your long workout as you struggle to get out from underneath your cozy covers, just think about putting on your “costume”. Instead of slipping into your favorite Saturday T-shirt & jeans, slip right into your biking shorts and shoes. Once your that far, sitting down for a cup of tea is just a nice prelude to your morning ride, rather than another step in procrastination. Getting onto your bike and out the door is easy once you’re already dressed for it!

Try out each of the previous tips this coming week to see which ones improve your motivation to train or give you more time. If you have more ideas, please share them in the Forums! Now onto the training…

Week 2
Week 2 requires about two hours and fifty minutes of workout time.

If you struggled with last week’s swimming workouts then repeat each of last week’s workouts. If they seemed difficult, but you were able to accomplish them, it’s time to move on! This week calls for two swims of a total of 500 and 600 yards. Don’t try to swim these continuously, break up your swimming so that you can concentrate fully on good form with each lap. You should be swimming slowly enough that you are not gasping for breath. If you find yourself struggling to catch your breath at the end of each 25 yards, slow down just a little. You will get far more benefit from swimming slowly with good form than swimming quickly with poor form. Good swimming is all about technique so don’t be shy to ask a swimmer whose form you admire if they can give you a quick tip. (be sensitive about interupting their workout). Here are the suggested workouts for the week:

Swim #1, 500 yards:
Warmup: 4 x 25 yards as follows: 25 kick, 25 pullbouy*, 25 swim, 25 swim. rest as needed between lengths. Repeat once.
Main set: 4 x 25 with 10 seconds rest between lengths. Rest 60 seconds. 4x 25 with 5 seconds rest.
Cool down: 50 easy kicking, 50 easy swimming

*When using the pullbuoy, focus on the feeling of having your torso horizontal in the water with your hips close to the surface and your head just under the surface of the water. On the subsequent swim, focus on reproducing this feeling by pushing your upper chest down into the water letting your hips rise to the surface.

Swim #2, 600 yards:
Warmup: 50 easy swim, 25 kick, 50 easy swim, 25 kick
Main set: Ladder: 25, 50, 75, 75, 50, 25
Cool down: 50 swim, count strokes & try to minimize, 50 easy kicking, 50 easy swimming, focus on long smooth strokes

If you find your are unable to swim the 50s or 75s, be patient and continue with sets of 25s. Challenge yourself to complete the distances, you’ll be surprised at what you can do!

These rides continue to be at an easy pace. If you find yourself breathing harder than a level that would let you carry on a conversation, then slow down. These workouts help prepare your body for endurance riding, not finish line sprints!

Ride 1: 40 minutes of easy riding. Continue to practice changing gears frequently to become accustomed to how they work. Practice pedaling fast and slow and note the relation ship between your gear selection and how fast or slow you can pedal. Strive to ride in an easier gear with your pedals spinning faster. Biking this way with a cadence between 85 & 95 rpm spares energy in your legs. Don’t forget that during the triathlon you will have to run after you get off the bike! Enjoy the ride, try to find a smooth trail for this.

Bike #2: 50 minutes of easy riding. For this ride, focus on staying in a gear that lets you pedal at a cadence between 85 & 95 rpm. Remember, you don’t need a fancy bike computer for this, just count the number of pedal revolutions you make in 10 seconds and multiply by six. Fifteen revolutions in six seconds equals 90 revolutions per minute. Practicing “spinning” pays off in the long run. If you are a “masher” and spin slowly in a big gear, you will be doing your joints & muscles a favor by practicing this new technique.

Since running is the highest impact of all three triathlon sports, we are beginning slowly and increasing the duration gradually. If you had any trouble with last week’s runs, repeat both of those workouts for this week.

Run 1: Another easy 20 minute run. You should keep your effort at a “conversational” level. If you are breathing too hard to say more than a few words at a time, you need to slow down. If you are not able to run for 20 minutes continuously, then alternate running and walking as needed. If you opt for the walk/run option, try to increase the time running and decrease the time walking. Try this: 5 minute brisk walk to warm up followed by alternating 3 mintues running & 2 minutes repeated once, followed by a 5 minute cooldown will add up to 20 minutes with 10 minutes of warmup/cooldown. Treat yourself to a tall glass of water when you are done!

Run 2: A 30 minute run. If you are doing walk/run, do a 5 minute warm up with 20 minutes of alternating running & walking followed by a 5 minute cooldown will add up to 30 minutes. Try to gradually increase the amount of time running.

Congratulations on finishing week 2! Next week we’ll discuss a few more training tips and go over the schedule for week 3.