Last month I participated in the Bristol Harbourside triathlon and I’ve decided to share my experiences of the training, preparation and the event itself, in case you are new to the sport or thinking of taking one on for the first time (not that I consider myself an expert though!)
This was the fourth triathlon that I had completed having previously completed one at each of the three standard distances: Sprint, Olympic and 70.3 (or half iron distance). I chose to take part in the Olympic distance again (1500m swim, 40km Bike and 10k Run) for a few reasons. Although the previous sprint event I took part in was the shortest, I certainly found it to be the most painful and uncomfortable throughout because of the intensity. Also I just didn’t have the time to train for a 70.3 again (which took me just over 6 hours to complete last time). Being a bit of a lump at around 17stone, I just felt more physically suited to the Olympic distance and although it was a distance which would push me, I hoped it wouldn’t be to the extent where I would be risking an injury.
The training for me started a bit late this time, as it always does- but I certainly work better under pressure so I wasn’t too fussed to begin with. My basic training plan was to train 6 sessions per week: 2 runs, 2 swims, 1 cycle and 1 gym class, but quite often between March and June I would go an entire week just doing one or two workouts of whatever was most convenient. The biggest challenge was to actually fit the training sessions in around normal life but out of everything, the most valuable practice I had done in the past was to train with back-to-back sessions in two different disciplines. Either going from a swim straight into a cycle, or cycle straight into a run- the same way it is in the event. This would get me closest to the type of shock/pain that a triathlons often give- why I enjoy them I just don’t know?! But going through that process gives you reassurance you can easily make the transitions on the race day.
By the time the event had come round I felt a little undertrained and a bit panicky, but knew from previous experience this is the feeling you often get, even if you are fully prepared. So I reassured myself it would all be fine and enjoyed the carb load, which I usually mis-interpret as a chance to eat like a pig and not feel too guilty for the couple of days leading up to the day!
The Sunday of the triathlon turned out to be one of the hottest so far, around 24 degrees and this proved to be a big problem for one poor chap who collapsed on the run leg. Fortunately this seemed to be the only drama of the day.
I managed to finish the entire race in 3 hours 5 mins. Overall I was very pleased with this, especially considering that I achieved a PB in both my 10k and 1500m swim times! It’s strange how doing all three parts at once can improve your performance in each discipline, maybe it was just the adrenaline and excitement on the day that carried me round! But I was annoyed I was just 5mins over 3 hours, which probably means I will just have to do another…
The recovery “they say”, is probably the most important aspect of competing, and being a Chiropractor I could outline a pretty good post-event recovery programme for the average competitor. Firstly get hydrated, consume something nutritious containing a good amount of protein within the first hour, get a good amount of sleep, stretch, use a foam roller, ice pack any injuries and get some adjustments to your spine the next day (and before hand if you want a really great time during and after the race!) Sadly this time, I completely failed to practice what i preach… My recovery was mainly based around having a beer, eating a chinese takeaway and lying on the sofa, no wonder I felt ill and ended up limping for 3 days after! The adjustments always tend to help me with my recovery though and fortunately I was in the right place for that on Monday morning (Dixon Health!) to get my spine straightened out after the abuse I gave it.
If you are thinking of taking on your first triathlon, my best advice is to get your body serviced before you begin. We are all rather quick to spend our well earned cash on all of the top of the range kit, but if you don’t invest in yourself and your body things can quickly backfire. Any small niggles can quickly become full blown injuries with repetitive forms of training and your body is the most important bit of kit you will use! Have a Chiropractor check you over for any hidden weaknesses or joint problems and then you can go into training with confidence instead of worry or fear! Book online here to get your body checked and tuned.