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Old 01-06-2006, 08:05 PM   #1
John Daniel
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A good friend asked me to join him in the Chicago Triathlon in August. I have never competed in a triathlon, and I currently am a bad swimmer. If I practice the swim this year, but do little run/bike prep, and continue the WOD - will I be adequately prepared?

I was planning on practicing the transitions and put in some longer bike/runs over the summer.
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Old 01-06-2006, 08:10 PM   #2
Matthew Nielsen
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Do the combat side stroke for the swim :-)
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Old 01-06-2006, 11:22 PM   #3
Eugene R. Allen
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John - how bad is bad in reference to your swimming? The distance is 1.5k or .93 miles so in a 25 meter pool that is 60 lengths - a fair amount of swimming. You are starting with a really huge race with the Chicago venue...a grand spectacle that one. Quite a first race.

Swimming is about efficiency in the water. Swimming is about practice, not training. If you can find and get to a Total Immersion swim clinic, it will be the very best thing you can do for your swimming. Also see if you can get into a Master's swimming program to work on both your stroke mechanics and to build swimming fitness. You have time to develop your crawl stroke and it is the only way to race.

You may be able to find a tri shop that will rent you a wet suit, but if allowed, you will want to wear one. Put a plastic bag over each foot as you put it on, it will go on much easier. Spray Pam on the ankles and wrists so it will come off easier. T1 is not a difficult change but T2 - bike to run is a bear. You need to get your muscles used to that by doing bricks which are bike rides immediately followed by a run. There are lots of books on the topic of triathlon that will give you training programs and there are on line and in person coaching programs you can do as well such as with Team in Training.

You can do a sprint distance race with minimal training and you can get through an Olympic distance race without much more. The WODs will help of course, but you need to do plenty of sport specific training as well. Most triathletes generally train 3 times per week in each sport but you can replace some of that with the WOD and be just fine.

Look for a tri club too.
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Old 01-07-2006, 08:01 PM   #4
John Daniel
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Thanks Eugene. I have the Total Immersion clinic manual that I used two years ago to work on my swimming. At that time, I could freestyle a few hundred yards at best. I realized my technique was my problem because I was in pretty good shape, but could not swim far without getting totally gased!

I will focus on technique and T2 transition. My real goal this year is to complete WOD as prescribed. The tri is a fun add on - my point is I don't want to take anything away from my primary goal.

I will practice swimming on my off day to start with and post another question in a few months.
Thanks
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Old 01-08-2006, 11:18 AM   #5
James Holroyd
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I can only reinforce what Eugene says- Total Immersion is a great way to improve your swimming. I'd also recommend any of the Total Immersion videos- there's no substitute for being able to see what's being described. (Except maybe participating in a TI clinic) (Disclaimer- I'm still pretty bad in the pool, I'm not a traithlete or competitive swimmer- I just do this for fun, etc. etc.)

I got one of the videos a little more than a year ago, and took 10 minutes off my (admittedly very slow) mile swim time in a couple of weeks of practice.

One of the things TI does is that it allows you to work at a lower power output by being more efficient. It also teaches you how to slow down - the glide and rotate portion of the stroke, where you're breathing without having to force your way to the surface, allows a rest that is very difficult to get with untrained technique (at least it was for me). Before TI, I could thrash through maybe 4 lengths before I ran out of oxygen and had to pant at the side of the pool. After TI, I could moderate my pace to the point where I could go on more-or-less indefinitely. The swim became much more like cross-country skiing, and quite a lot more enjoyable.

Good luck!

James
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Old 01-08-2006, 04:16 PM   #6
Wayne Sauve
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John
You will be adequatley prepared. Practice swimming like you said, but also run and bike. Espcially 10 weeks out from the event.

Like Eugene said, T2 is tough, so practice it. You do not want to experience it for the first during the race.

Get a decent bike. Slick tires. It will help.

Have fun as the are a blast.

Good Luck
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Old 01-09-2006, 06:48 AM   #7
Bob Long
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Advise: Do a smaller triathlon before the Chicago Mega-race to get the feel for the events. Open water swimming can be, shall we say, a little rough, if you've never done it before. And to jump right it with the 1,000s at Chicago, even with wave starts, could be discouraging and disorienting. So I'd do a small race before to "get the feel"
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Old 01-09-2006, 12:06 PM   #8
Eugene R. Allen
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Bob's suggestion to do a race before your Chicago adventure is right on. You will pick up all kinds of little tricks that will help you immeasureably in your big race. Here's some random thoughts about racing.

Put plastic bags on your feet when you put on your wetsuit and it will slide on much more easily. Also spray Pam on your ankles and wrists to get it off more easily. Start your swim to the outside of the group when you start to stay out of the washing machine frenzy when the gun goes off. Swim in as straight a line as possible by sighting on the target buoy 3rd or 5th stroke. Swim till your fingers touch the ground and then get up gently and carefully to get your land legs back. Once steady on your feet, run gently toward T1 and put your goggles on your forehead. Reach back and unzip your wetsuit, pull your arms out, pull the suit down to your waist, start running a bit faster and take off your goggles and swim cap. In T1 pull your wetsuit down below your knees and then stomp your feet as if you were stomping grapes to make wine. The water in your suit will clean your feet. Step on your towel and rub your feet dry with another small towel. You will probably want to wear socks unless you have been training without them. It's faster to go without, more comfortable to go with socks. Strap on your shoes unless you have practiced putting them on while they are clipped to the pedals. If you have not practiced that, don't do it at the race. Your helmet should be upside down on your aerobars with your glasses inside. Put on your glasses first, then helmet, don't wear gloves and run your bike to the mount line.

During your bike try and stay aero as much as possible. No drafting so keep clear of other riders. After 5 or 10 minutes of riding start eating and drinking. Have two water bottles with whatever drink you like and a few gels taped to your top bar. Hold a steady pace don't freak when a young kid wearing tennis shoes on a mountain bike goes by you. Don't chase him. This is your race, do it at your pace.

When you have a mile or so of your ride left drop a couple gears and let your legs spin a bit to work out some lactic acid. When you have a half mile left go up a couple gears, stand and pedal hard standing for a 20 second burst or so working on pulling up hard to get some blood into your hamstrings for the run. Stretch each calf at the bottom of the pedal stroke, stretch your lower back, down a gel and get something to drink. Unstrap your shoes and pedal in the last bit with your stocking feet on top of your shoes. Hop off at the dismount line and run to your spot. Unsnap your helmet, throw on your running shoes (equipped with elastic laces or other speed lacing system) and wobble out for your 10k. This part will suck.

There's more, there's always more. You'll learn a lot from each race you do.
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