Olympic Triathlon Training Part 2: Why Triathlon?

So I’ve told a few people that I’m planning on completing an olympic triathlon this year. Their first question is how long is that? And their second is why? So why would someone WANT to complete a triathlon? Ps you can do it too with this olympic triathlon or sprint triathlon training plan.

Injury Prevention

I put this first because it’s my number one reason all the stuff after is actually secondary. I’ve had a few overtraining injuries over the years and 6 weeks later like clockwork I was back up and going. But last year I battled runner’s knee all season and through the winter. Through the winter I even had to upgrade to the big ass knee brace. It stems back to when a car backed into my left hip at really low speed when I was 16. I didn’t get medical attention at the time for a whole lot of not really good reasons. It wasn’t until I developed bursitis I had X-rays  and found out I had a healed hairline fracture. It would act up for a few days after a rescue for and every now and then for a few years. I joke, sort of, that it would be nice for something on my right side to hurt for a change.

Studies consistently show that athletes who cross train get fewer injuries and spend less time off. Triathlon is the fastest growing sport right now in no small part because of injured endurance runners. Cross training is built into the process. I’ve also done A LOT of reading about runners knee, like a lot over the last year. There is no consensus on what actually causes it, one of the main theories is muscle imbalances usually in the hip, so that makes sense. I hope and dream that I will be pain free, and maybe even brace free if I spend three months or more legitimately cross training hardcore. I would be pretty happy to just get back to the little band brace really. But running again brace free seems like I would feel like a gazelle romping freely in a nature preserve with out a care in the world who just reached nirvana and graduated from university debt free with a job offer. But also 10% better than that.

Boredom in Training

Last year I ran on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. I checked the cross training box on Wednesdays and rested on Sundays. That is it, that is all. To shake it up speed runs on Tuesdays and long runs on Saturdays, which is not shaking it up AT ALL! It’s cool though I finally got the platinum high mile trophy. But this year can not be only running again because I will die, of boredom. I will die of boredom! I’m gonna bike and swim and run and wear so many different outfits like helmets, wetsuits, tight padded shorts, bikini tops, sports bras, hydration belts. I will not only be on the road but also trails and lakes and IT’S GOING TO BE AWSOME!

Top Physical Conditioning

I’ve always been pretty fit. Lifeguard at 17, mountain bike racer at 19, 5 mile a day walker at 21, considered yoga teacher training at 25, ongoing runner and then the dark years in grad school. By 30 I was logging hundreds of km on the roads and 1000’s on the mountain bike again. But holy wow, marathon training, girl got herself some legit abs! Not the see if I turn you can see something ones. My weak point my former bingo wings, or dinner lady arms if your British, are cut and now when I flex them, wait for it, they change shape! Also I can split 1/2 a chord of wood in about 2.5 hours so yeah. Now that I think about it lugging over 400 bundles on to roofs from the ground with unfortunately close trees last summer probably helped too.  And I like it, I like it a lot. I have spring abs, SPRING ABS people! I’m going to confess I spend time looking at them, like twice a week and I know what light they look best in, spare bedroom in case your wondering. I’m turning 34 this year and clearly in the best shape of my life. It’s a bit addictive and if I run bike and swim it can only get better. Another confession, the “I’ll never marathon girl,” is googling ultra races. My advice stay away from inspiring documentaries on the subject. Do not watch them especially the Berkley Marathon one and  running on the sun.

Use my Gear, do What I Love

Kind of a silly reason really but I find it grating to have cash invested in crap I don’t use. Last year with training for a half all I did was run, I thought I could do both but injuries flared up and it would put me at risk for more overtraining so I put the triatlon off until this year. Needless to say I didn’t get my mountain bike out a lot or my road bike at all. I like cycling/biking (it’s different to me) a lot more than running and I have a big investment in that gear. I also love swimming and since leaving college I’ve only done it as an evening dip, after a yoga class or to flip over an RC boat. I do like and even love running but I like swimming and biking especially a whole lot more, the whole time not just after the first 3 km. But it’s way easier to get out there when your running, no racking a bike and no cold towelled walk home. By training for a triathlon this year I’ll actually use all my gear and that makes me happy!

Health and Genetics

This isn’t something I would share with everyone, except that I am here, so there is that. I’m getting older, I’ll be 34 when I do this. Over 1/2  the age my dad was when he died at 64. By the time he was my age he was already getting sick or very close to it. He was one of 5 brothers and at 64, he lived to be the second oldest. My uncle who was diagnosed with the same things started walking and lived into his 80’s. I want to be the Austin in the group, not the Rupert, Harold, Gordon or Brian. None of these men made healthy lifestyle choices and they probably didn’t have the best genetics either. I haven’t always made the best lifestyle choices and have those genetics too. But as a biologist I know that genetics truly does load the gun and it can be up to you if you fire it. as I get older to  do my best to make sure that gun never gets fired.

34 also 13 years from when my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and now that I’m 34 thirteen years doesn’t seem like a long time. As was my aunt and two second level relatives. In my 20’s I smoked and drank more than any doctor would recommend, like most of that age but I really do feel that with my genetic history I should do at least to basics to keep myself healthy, probably more. Just the stuff science proves is a good idea. So I quit smoking, although for all the smokers in my family tree no one ever got lung cancer. I don’t drink, 3-6 alcoholic beverages a week (light drinking) has a statistically significant increased risk for developing breast cancer in the moderate category up to 14 drinks a week there risk is 10% higher than non-drinkers and similar to those that used to smoke. Obesity has a strong link to breast and other cancers so I make it a point to maintain a healthy body weight. I’m a vegetarian which started with me calculating my carbon footprint (I drove a Jeep at the time). Vegetarians are 25% less likely to die from heart disease, have a moderately lower risk of developing cancer, particularly colorectal cancer and are 50% less likely do become diabetic even when BMI is controlled for. I do my very best to meet minimum exercise recommendations. The MINIMUM guidelines suggest you get 30 minuets of moderate intensity aerobic activity 5 days a week. Over the average of the year I do this but December through February it’s probably close to three days a week. Training for a big goal each year helps me get to the 5 day a week for 30 minuets on average over the entire year. According to the WHO I can expect to have lower rates of all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer, and depression. Be less likely to have less risk of a hip or vertebral fracture. I will also exhibit a higher level of cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness; and be more likely to achieve weight maintenance and have a healthier body mass and composition. So that’s why triathlon.

Personal Challenge

Did you know literally all drugs that are addictive give you a dopamine response? It is responsible for the rush you get when you accomplish something and is the bodies reward system for learning. Add in some adrenaline and does that you remind you of anything? Yes, race day finish lines, I would also accept lines of cocaine as an answer, it’s a toss up which is cheaper. I don’t think it could possibly compare to crossing a finish line of a race you never thought you could do. But it’s not an informed opinion so am I wrong on that? It evolved to work like this you kill your first mammoth, in the process you learn how to feed the tribe, you then get a dopamine rush as a reward. That’s why runners progress from 5ks to 10ks to half and the average first time marathoner is in their 40’s. That shit is addictive. You start out saying I could never run a marathon but those dopamine responses keep getting bigger. which is the opposite of drugs.  Your are earning your increasing dopamine response by tackling a personal challance as nature intended. And it feels GREAT! So it’s been dirty century to 10k, to sprint to half and now olympic triathlon for me. I NEVER thought I would be able to do a half and that continued for 10 years, then I did. So this is the next challenge to rise to for me.

It’s a challenge you can tackle too it’s not to late for you to start trying for your sprint or olympic triathlon!

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