What triathlon training has taught me

I’ve just begun week 8 of my ironman training and despite having done a triathlon before this is the first time I’ve really, properly trained for one rather than just doing it as a bit of fun. Training for a multisport race is so different to just running, not least because of all the extra equipment needed, you can barely see the poolside at the triathlon club swim sessions for all the many paddles, floats, snorkels and fins. I thought therefore I’d share the top 3 things that triathlon training has taught me so far.

1 – You can’t run in bib shorts

Well you can but it isn’t very comfortable and as I found out can make for some interesting chaffing. One of my weekly sessions is a 45 minute steady turbo ride and then a quick transition to a 15 minute run. At this time of year that means sitting in your house (in the glamorous surroundings of the utility room if you’re anything like me) on the turbo with sweat dripping off your nose. You then jump off, heart racing, mop up some of the sweat, throw on a few layers plus a hat and a head torch and then head out into the freezing black night. If you do this wearing bib shorts as I did the first time it means you are at high risk of your nipples turning into bullets and the perfectly positioned bib short straps rubbing on them. Lesson very quickly and painfully learned!

The glamorous location for my turbo sessions

2 – You are always hungry.

And I mean always. I honestly think I spend as much time preparing and eating food as I do actually training. A key part of the training of course but it’s hard work packing food for a day at the office to make sure you have enough and aren’t tempted to pop to the coffee shop for a nice cheese toasty. The other challenge I find is not just eating carbs, they may satisfy the hunger but need to keep a good balance of veg and protein in there too.

3 – The gun show

As a runner I don’t normally have much in the way of upper body muscle, but I have to say I’m quite enjoying my new found buffness after a few weeks in the pool. For the first time in a long time I actually have some pecs and biceps! I’ve also noticed how the swimming has got rid of that little bit of fat around the hips/waist that most office workers have. The transition for the legs has been hard though, my knees have ached a bit as they adjust to riding a bike and the different strains that puts on joints. No doubt good for me long term to develop more muscle, will be interesting to see what impact it has on my running times.

With 22 weeks of training left I’m sure I’m going to learn an awful lot more about this crazy world of triathlon. If you’ve done a triathlon let me know what you discovered when training.


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