A little back story first...
I have lived with anxiety my whole life and exercise has been transformation for me. I had a bad breakup last year and 2018 I have designated as the "Year of My Best Body”. My fitness regime has helped bring back the self-love and self-worth I had completely forgotten about. I feel strong, and fit, and proud!
I spin 6-7 times a week (soon to be MUCH less now that the warm weather is here, ish...), with two weight circuits worked into those days. I am running my third (!) half marathon in May and just yesterday I registered for my first Olympic Triathlon in July. So my question for you is...help! I have been researching training guides but am feeling overwhelmed. I'm not sure how much I should be training and resting? I would say I am in good shape so I don't feel like a beginner. Do you have any tips or programs/guides you would recommend?
Thanks so much!
I am so happy that you have found exercise to be a helpful tool in managing your anxiety. But be careful! Triathlons are addictive! Once you do one you will want to do another and then another and before you know it you’ll be crossing an Ironman finish line. Not that that’s a bad thing, just make sure you are ready for some serious saddle sores and runner’s toes.
I’m going to make training simple for you, however if you want more details and numbers I highly recommend you research an online coach. Go into a local running store or look into a triathlon club in your neighbourhood and ask for recommendations. They are all great and range in experience as well as price. There are many ex-professional triathletes who have turned into amazing online coaches so ask around.
In the meantime, what I suggest you do is relax. By the sounds of it you can do a triathlon in your sleep. Your first triathlon is an experiment and an opportunity to make A LOT of mistakes. When I look back at my first race I still laugh. My arms were so tired after the swim that I couldn’t put on my bike shorts! But a few years later I was doing my first Ironman.
It is pretty simple. Get into the pool twice a week. One day focus on technique and intervals (I recommend swimming with a training club once a week which can be found at your local swimming pool) and the other day you should focus on slower distance. Basically you just need to be able to swim 1600 meters without really feeling like you worked that hard. The swim is just to wean those cyclist and runners out of the race because they don’t know how to swim. You won’t lose the race by being slow in the water so just make sure you make it to the end of the swim.
As for the bike, keep at least 1 spin workout a week. Nothing works your endurance like a spin class and you really need to do twice as much on the road to push yourself as hard as you do in a spin class. Your other bike ride should be a hill ride or a tempo ride. Either find a mountain or a long hill and do repeats uphill, varying from 5 minute sets to a full hour of climbing. You can also interchange the hill workouts with speed workouts. If you can find a long flat road that is carless do sets of 3-5 minutes where you focus on big watts while maintaining high speed. Your third ride of the week should be a bit longer and less intense. 2 to 3 hours at most. It’s also a good idea to add in a short 10-15 minute brick run after your longer ride, so you get a feeling of what it feels like to run on dead legs.
For running, 2 to 3 runs is enough and they are very similar to your cycling runs. 2 of the 3 runs are shorter and more intense, 60 minutes max. You can do speed repeats on a track or hill repeats on the road. You can do trail runs, or tempo runs. There really is no science behind it (well there is but in my opinion just keep it simple and get outside and push yourself). Your third run should be longer and slower, at a maximum of 10-12 kilometers.
A quick breakdown of what a week should look like:
Monday – rest day, which is a great day to get into a deep stretch yoga class or do some meditation.
Tuesday – Swim in the morning followed by a spin class; each workout is about 45 minutes long.
Wednesday – Tempo run.
Thursday – Swim in the morning and hill run in the evening.
Friday - Hill or speed session on your bike.
Saturday – Long bike ride with a very short run after.
Sunday – Long run.
It is ok if you miss a workout or 2 each week, just make sure you are not always missing the same workout. Maybe 1 week you miss your long run, the next it’s a swim and a bike, etc. Have fun with this and go out and smile throughout your entire race, knowing that you put in the work. After you get this race under your belt you can start fine-tuning and really taking it seriously but until then keep the expectations on yourself low and take it workout by workout. Rejoice in every accomplishment as you work towards your finish line.