Training Update 12/7

The past 3 weeks have been very busy, what with all of the family gatherings around Thanksgiving and working on the fundraising/holiday letter. As many of you know, I’ve gotten a bit creative with my holiday letters in the past few years… a Prairie Home Companion-like recount, a parody of The Onion (complete with an area man struggling with how to write a better holiday letter than last year), a “meta” holiday writing story. This year I struggled a bit more than usual. I spent a week struggling to write it as a dialog between two animals (ala David Sedaris’s Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk) before scrapping the idea and going with the concept of recalling our memorable moments from the year and providing the opportunity of similar big and little moments to those less fortunate, a notion I encountered at last year’s hike kick-off meeting.

We’ve had a number of group swim and bike/run training sessions. It’s been interesting to see the varying levels of experience in the group. Some people are just learning to swim while others have done several triathlons in the past. Similarly, some people have some very nice road/triathlon bikes while others (like myself) are currently using the only bikes we have… mountain bikes.

The swims haven’t been as tedious as I thought they might be, repetitively swimming back and forth in the pool. The first training we swam “marker” sets to be used for measuring progress over the course of the season. Subsequent training sessions have involved performing drills to emphasize certain aspects of form during the front crawl, such as body rotation, finger drag, and arm entry.

Though I was a swim instructor and lifeguard in high school and college, I have never swam competitively. I have swam laps before, even doing over a mile (more than required for the triathlon), though that was with a few breaks in between. I won’t have that luxury during the event, so I’m a bit nervous. I’ve started to focus my training on a technique called Perpetual Motion Freestyle which emphasises dynamic streamlining rather than brute force power in order to conserve energy. There are several multi-part videos available on Youtube describing the technique (search for “Total Immersion Perpetual Motion Freestyle“, “How to ‘Work Less, Swim Better’ in triathlon“, and “TI Swimming Faster Presentation“) So far I’ve been very impressed with how I can keep up with most of the better swimmers on the team yet feel very little fatigue afterward. The training is more about engraining muscle memory than building muscle.

We’ve had two bike/run training sessions so far. Each has involved riding on trainers at different intensities and intervals for about 45 minutes followed by a short run (1 and 2 miles respectively) to get us used to transitioning.

As far as individual training goes, I’ve been hitting the gym to swim laps and take advantage of the spinning classes since I don’t have my own bike trainer yet. On the Saturdays we haven’t had a bike/run training session I’ve done some long runs with a neighborhood running group I started running with before signing up for the triathlon. The Saturday after Thanksgiving I ran 10.5 miles with them, the furthest I’ve gone in my Vibram FiveFingers. 

I’ve also been trying to fit P90X workouts into my schedule, though those have taken a backseat for the past week just trying to take care of the fundraising letters and holiday obligations. I hope to pick that back up this week as things settle down.

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