A Mile in Our Shoes: A Look into the Life of an Age Group Triathlete

BradContributor INovember 25, 2009

BELLINGHAM, WA - JUNE 13:   Matt Reed #5 leads Hunter Kemper #1and Andy Potts #2 during the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team Trials on June 13, 2004 at Bloedel Donavan Park in Bellingham, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

I admit, I am new to triathlon, but I have been in competitive cycling and running for about five years.

When I first started out, I was mountain biking and was head over heels for the sport. That all changed once I started racing. My results were never as good as I thought they should be. Like the saying goes, I never won but I never finished last.

I asked everybody I rode with for training tips, secrets, anything I thought would be useful. Only one person I ever talked to would share any "trade" secrets with me, and his advice was simple, buy a road bike.

Dave was a cool dude. He was in his forties and raced triathlons, he probably still does. Upon his suggestion, I started to look into buying a road bike. I quickly discovered one thing, the price to get a bike that would meet my needs was way more than my hardtail mountain bike. I lucked out and found a used GT Attack at a pawnshop for $400.00.

That GT quickly became my best friend. I rode after work, inside, outside. For five days a week for at least one hour I was on that bike. My mountain bike soon began collecting dust, and I later sold it on e-bay.

Within three weeks of buying my "new" bike, I entered my first road race. It was a 40 mile mass start. I finished ninth in Cat 5. From that moment on I was hooked.

I started doing club rides and charity events. If there was a race or a even a ride, I was there.

I started to realize the guys I was racing against were the same guys I rode with at least once a week. We never talked, just rode with our heads down and mouths shut. After the rides we never talked to each other just packed up and left.

At the back of our weekly beat downs were a group of scantily clad people on these weird looking bikes.

They would all ride together having a good time in their own group at their much slower pace, and just to rub our noses in it—sometimes they would go run after our rides. Who are these people, I used to think. I'd overhear jargon that sounded like they were talking about racing. Words like PR, and transition and swimming.

Swimming? Are you serious? But they were always together, always encouraging each other always talking about better ways to do things.

I finally started riding at the back of the pack with "those" guys and found out they were just as fit and as serious as we were up at the front. They were just letting us basically get out of their way. I rode with them all that summer and picked up training tips and ideas—something cyclists never did.

In 2008 my entire bike racing season got derailed by pneumonia. It took me several months to get my form back. By the time I did, racing season was over.

I was back on track at the beginning of this year and again I got sick. We found out I had never gotten over my bug from almost an entire year before. It turned out I had an infection that kept flaring up because I misused the antibiotics. I never finished taking them when I started to feel better. As my body would wear down from my training, I would get sick and start all over again.

When I finally got well enough to train, I spent all of this year running. I've always wanted to run a marathon, but have always lacked the ambition and speed to be a runner. I've since completed two half-marathons and about 12 5k's and 10k's. I was even able to medal in my age group at all but three of the fourteen events I did this year.

I started thinking about riding again. I actually rode on my indoor trainer when I got home from my first half marathon. Since then I have combined my old cycling workouts with my newfound love of running. I am also working on swimming and some cross training as well. For right now I am mainly focused on building my cycling and running aerobic base.

Here is my first four week training block.

Week One-Week 4

Monday: 6 am to 7 am treadmill run at 7.5 to 8 mph. 9-11 pm bike in zone two-three five minute warm-up, five minute cool down. Twenty minutes either on an all-in-one weight machine or free weights, chest and back

Tuesday: 6 am to 6:45 am intervals (bike) five min warm-up three sets x 30 sec 53x15 then two sets of five minute ladders, one minute in each gear, five gear changes, six sets of 30 second second ring x 15 high speed spinning. 6:30-7:30 pm climbing repeats

Wednesday: 6 am-7 am easy run. 6:30 pm-8 pm movie night* I put in a 90 minute movie and do a mix of intervals, two minutes at 53x12 full sprint three minutes rest 53x12 out of the saddle climbing sim-also note my front wheel on my stationary trainer is always elevated.

Thursday: 6:30 pm-7:30 pm race sim 12 to 15 miles followed by a three to four mile run at race pace.

Friday: weights and core about 20 to 30 minutes. Basically a rest day.

Saturday: 7am-8am swim followed by six to seven miles run outside with a stroller, repeat again in the afternoon 9p-1030p easy ride.

Sunday: Long steady distance ride two to three hours.

I realize this is not an Ironman workout schedule. The weekly mileage increases by 10 percent until week four, and week four is an easy week with an extra rest day.

I hope it helps and please feel free to share what works for you. As a side note, that GT hangs on my wall and I look at every time I run or ride inside. I try to honor that bike every time I train.