SwimBikeRun – an update

I am two weeks away from my first triathlon, the Grantown Try a Tri. I’ve been training all summer for it, but have kept it all under wraps, until now. When you have so much information you want to share regarding primal eating, one gets distracted 😉

Swim

Although I’m a capable swimmer, having taken lessons and earned all my badges as a child, I literally hadn’t swam laps in a pool for about twenty years. I got back into it at the end of June, after entering my triathlon. Monday nights were designated swim nights in our house, where Pat and I would head up to Stonehaven to swim laps. The pool itself is 50m long, heated, outdoor and a combination of saltwater and chlorine, which makes for some very shriveled lips post session.

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My goal initially was to just survive a session. I started swimming straight laps of front crawl, with brief rests between each length; I managed 800m my first time. And I was exhausted afterwards! As the summer progressed, so did my swim fitness to the point where each session is easily 1000m (or 1km), without rests, and even incorporating some speed intervals into the mix. I’ve done either 5 x 50m one way with 50m back as my recovery, or 3 x 100m with 50m recovery. I genuinely enjoy swimming in the outdoor pool, especially on sunny days.

One thing I’ve just recently tried – something I will need to do frequently if I’m going to enter the Craggy Island Tri next year – is open water swimming. Pat does it weekly for his training and always asks me to join; this past Saturday, I finally did. I assumed the toughest part of open water swimming would be swimming in a lake, not being able to see the bottom and being scared of what’s lurking below the surface. I used to be afraid of the dark as a kid, so you can imagine what my imagination concocts! In reality though, when I got into the water, wetsuit and all, the toughest part wasn’t not being able to see the bottom, but rather dealing with the extremely cold water! Talk about brain, and hand and feet, freeze! The water was so cold it took my breath away, and made doing the front crawl very difficult. So difficult, that I had to resort to the breast stroke instead. Erin, my Iron(wo)man blog friend, reassures me that this is a start.

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Complete with neoprene head band to keep my ears warm

I swim once a week. The swim in my triathlon is 300m in a pool.

Bike

At the start of summer, I got a shot of Pat’s cousin Alistair’s Merida road bike. I was in instant #bikelove! I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a road bike, but once I spent a week with this one – clipped in and all – I couldn’t imagine life without it. Having to return it to its owner was tough, and I trawled the internet for something of equal calibre.

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I thought I would just ride an old Raleigh Clubman we had in the mean time, but after a 16 mile loop with my friend, resulting in an aching neck, back and awkward moments when shifting gears (the shifters were along the top bar of the bike, not on the handle bars), I quickly changed my mind and just hoped I found a new bike.

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Bike shopping with a limited budget is tough! Some prices have me thinking “Hmmmm, new road bike? Or plane ticket home to Canada, first class?” The thought of a brand new road bike as my first was out of the question, so I took to the internet to find a second hand one. The downside to buying second-hand from a private owner is the possibility of having to drive across Scotland to view a bike you’re potentially going to buy. Not ideal. Luckily, I found a used bike locally, in Laurencekirk! And it was also a Merida!

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Pat and I are now sharing this beauty until he starts venturing into half ironman and ironman distance triathlon training. The bike frame itself is a small, which fits me well, but it’s slightly too small for Pat and hurts his back. I like our compromise for now.

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I really enjoy cycling and the speed I get from it. It took a few sessions on the new bike – affectionately named Big White – to get used to how it works and changing gears effortlessly, but I’ve finally had a session where things just clicked, both literally and figuratively. And just in time to race 🙂

My plans for the bike include buying shoes and pedals so I can clip in. I really don’t like having to wear running shoes to cycle in, but money at this moment in time doesn’t allow for such expenditures.

I cycle once a week. The bike leg in my triathlon is 10 miles.

Run

It seems everyone that does a triathlon is already strong in one of its disciplines. Running is my discipline and, if you’re a loyal follower to my blog, you know I’ve been running for a while now. I’ve branched out into trail and hill running (aka fell running), just to keep things interesting and exciting. I’ve also been doing hill sprints once a week or once every two weeks. And just recently, I’ve again started doing long runs on a Sunday, through the countryside where we live.

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I run at least once a week. The run for my triathlon is 4.7 km, just under 3 miles.

Brick Sessions

These are workouts where you do two of the triathlon disciplines, one after the other. I’ve now done three brick sessions:

1. 500m swim then 5km run, which turned out to be a progression run, unintentionally.

2. 13 mile bike then 30 minute run

3. 500m swim then 15 mile bike

I enjoy these sessions because they’re something different that I’m able to do. I’ve been fueling between each discipline, with either a piece of fruit, a Nakd bar or I’ve made my own isotonic drink: 250mL water, 250mL sparkling water, the juice of one clementine orange, lime juice, 1 tsp salt. It worked for me!

I do a brick session every Saturday.

Weights

For the last six weeks, I’ve also been doing body weight exercises to help me overall. They are part of Primal Blueprint Fitness, Mark Sissons quick and easy fitness programme, designed to get basically make you look good naked as he says 😉 Joking aside though, his programmes, along with a primal way of eating, are designed to get you into maximum shape with little effort, and quick recovery. The body weight exercises consist of four basics: pushups, chin-ups, squats and planks (front and side). Each exercise has several levels in which you progress (levels 1-9), and your current ability in each exercise tells you where you begin; to move up a level, you must be able to perform the given exercise to the number of given repetitions.

I’ve progressed through all four exercises, and I’ve noticed big improvements in both my swimming and running. Swimming isn’t so tiring anymore, and I feel my strokes are much stronger. My running has come leaps and bounds, and this is all without the recommended intervals, threshold/tempo runs and regular hill reps, as recommended by running magazines. My easy pace is now around 9:30/mile (compared to a minute slower four months ago), and hills aren’t the tiring devils they used to be. I’m honestly amazed at how well my running is going. And primal eating helps greatly with recovery to do it all over again.

What does a week’s worth of workouts look like?

Just depends, really! Nothing is set in stone, I just make sure I get in one swim, one bike and one run a week + 1-2 body weight sessions and a brick workout, which is always on a Saturday. This translates into 5 days a week of exercise with two days rest; I try to go 3 days in a row of training then rest, but sometimes schedule and weather make it difficult. Regardless though, I feel I’m in some of the best shape of my life, and I feel very confident going into my first triathlon.

Beyond the triathlon, I’ve also signed up for the Loch Ness 10km (September 28th – Pat is running the marathon), and the Bennachie Hill Race at the beginning of October (an 8 mile out and back up Bennachie, about a 1500ft ascent). I’ll be entering the St. Andrews University Autumn Duathlon (October 26th), and the Templeton 10 (mile) road race in November. That’s enough, right? 😉 I’ve also joined the newly formed Montrose Triathlon Club.

Training is going very well, I’m loving all the new challenges, and as a result, my fitness has improved greatly!

Have you tried a tri?

What type of cross-training do you do?

What races have you got planned for the rest of the year?

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2 thoughts on “SwimBikeRun – an update

  1. I found this post really interesting as triathlon is something I definitely want to pursue in future so it was good to see how you organise your training. I’m trying to organise further swim lessons and am in the proces of buying my first road bike – I’m even going to go for it with being clipped in!
    Sounds like you’re in great shape and I’m looking forward to reading about your first tri 🙂

    • I like how you say ‘organised;’ I think they’re all over the place! As long as I do a swim, a bike, a run, a brick workout and body weight exercises once a week. But as a result, my fitness is great.

      I’ve also bought my first shoes to clip in 😉

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