So what’s the plan?

Posted: June 30, 2012 by writingsprint in Health, Triathlon
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I needed a plan for how to train. If you don’t have a plan you wind up in a situation like this. In the best of all possible worlds I would’ve found someone who’s trained for multiple sprint triathlons, picked their brains, read whatever books they told me to read and followed any plans they put in front of me. I considered signing up with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, but they weren’t taking applications for triathlons when I was getting started, and I wasn’t sure they would take someone at my novice level.

A few hours of Google searches later, I settled on a basic program that I found at BeginnerTriathlete.com — the swim-focused sprint training plan. I liked the simplicity; even I could follow it. I also liked how it mandated taking two days off a week to recover and prevent injuries. I was brought up in school of hard days / light days as a runner, where the light day meant doing long distance rather than interval work — a different kind of “hard,” if you ask me — and no days off. The plan also encourages you to tailor it to your schedule. Emergencies and deadlines crop up in my job at a moment’s notice, so that was right up my alley. I would put in the time that the program described, and along the way, I would sign up with a personal trainer to build up my swimming and tailor the program as needed.

Yesterday was my “long bike” day of the week. I told Holly I was getting bored with the gym, so she encouraged me to get out of the gym and get on outdoors. It sure feels a lot different from the stationary bike. It was 80 degrees when I left the house, around 7:30 at night. The sun was still up pretty high. It’s late June in Philly and the sun doesn’t completely set until about 8:30.

Balmy! I was groping for a good word to describe how it felt. Balmy for me is what most people would describe as just barely too warm and just barely too humid. Like a light sauna. That’s a balm for me. I wore the poor man’s version of training clothes: T shirt, gym shorts, and a backpack that carried my house keys.

The ride took me back to night running when I was in high school. I forgot what grass smelled like; I live downtown and work in an office all day. Fairmount Park is a green, lovely oasis down by the Schuylkill river. The heat embraced everything. People were out walking their dogs, hanging with their friends by the river, or just doing nothing at all. And here and there, the runners and bicyclists. Here was my view :):

Fairmount Park

There are two elements that riding outside gives you that a stationary bike can’t: hills and wind. I can deal with hills. That’s what gears are for, and I faced some monster hills as a runner. Hills come to an end. You can attack them and get the hell off them, or just shorten your stride and wait until it’s over. If you’re lucky, they’re rolling hills, and you get a nice downhill on the other side. There isn’t much you can do about wind besides enjoy the breeze and the added exercise. It’s subtle, and it doesn’t go away. You might settle in behind someone bigger than you, and let them push through the wind, but that’s about it. There’s also wildlife: last night I also dodged a flock of geese that was crossing from one side of the path to the other, and today I shared the path with college crew teams, their boats, and children running to see their brothers and sisters.

Side note: I’m watching the 2012 Olympic Trials in Omaha as I type this. The women are doing the 800 meter freestyle in 8 1/2 minutes. It takes me 26. Just… wow.

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