Trials and tribulations of the KSR trail running team.
You know how it is. Always….
As a passionate runner you will eventually take on your first marathon. You train hard for months and then the big day comes. You are well prepared and you feel confident. The race goes well. And even though you might not have run 2:04h you have mastered the challenge. But what’s next…?
That’s how it was for me and to fill the gap after scratching the marathon off the bucket list and to prevent runners’ depression I needed something new to conquer.
After focusing more and more on ultras while fancying triathlons at the same time it was clear. And a week later, just after I had moved to Australia, I signed up for the 2014 Port Macquarie Ironman.
Another week after that I realized that starting off with an Ironman would most likely kill me. It was as simple as that. I had never ridden a proper road-bike and my last swim session was about 10 years back. So I signed up for Kingscliff Triathlon (Olympic distance) and Canberra 70.3 (half ironman) to start off “easy”.
Then, in June 2013, I started to integrate the new sports into my daily training routine. And boy, it was hard. Since I pretty much started off from scratch my first swim session was horrible and motivation quickly went down the drain. Luckily my debut on the bike was more like it.
Besides having to learn the technique and building up stamina for all three disciplines, the financial side of triathlon took its toll on me and it was hard to integrate all three sports into my daily training schedule. I was determined to keep my running mileage up high while moving to 2 training sessions a day to achieve my goal of 6xrunning, 3xswimming, 3xcycling and 2xstrength per week. Overall this resulted in about 20-30 hours of training.
Having lamented so much, I now want to focus on all those advantages that I was lucky enough to encounter during my triathlon training. This is to show everybody that runners shouldn’t only run. During my training I could make out 7 important factors:
1) Overall Body Strength
After incorporating two other sports into my daily routine I started to build up more muscle. While keeping my bodyweight this led to more running stability during long runs and less core-strength fatigue on technical terrain.
2) Enhanced Breathing Technique
When I started swimming I spent quite a while on finding the right breathing technique. Because of this I was also more aware of my breathing during runs and I now feel like it has become more economical.
3) Perfect Cross Training
Before, I had never really thought about any cross training because I feared it would kill my endurance. But it doesn’t always have to be yoga, strength, circle training or CrossFit. Especially the bike sessions ended up being a welcomed alternative to running. While it gives your joints and tendons a rest it is perfect for endurance.
4) Change of Routine
Whether I hit the roads on my bike or took the wetsuit to the closest lake, it was always helpful to break the routine and keep my motivation up. As a runner you are prone to running the same route every day, just because you know your perfect speed and how you should feel. Break this habit and get out of your comfort zone. It will give you a new sense of joy for sports in the end.
5) Stay Focused & Committed
Since I had to go from 1 to 2 training sessions a day it required a higher level of focus and commitment. It is fairly easy to work out hard in the morning and then go on with the day. But if you have a 2nd session in the arvo mental toughness comes into play, especially if it’s another hard workout.
6) Nutrition as a Focal Point
With a lot more training hours and double the load of sessions, nutrition became an even more important part of training. To prevent being low on energy, especially during the 2nd workout, it was inevitable for me to get my nutrition right. This required a lot less chocolate and other candy during the day because the sugar only guarantees a short time of high energy levels. Instead I would focus on a big breakfast after the first session with a fair amount of carbs to form the basis for the arvo workout. Chocolate would come right after.. 😉 You do need to treat yourself!
7) Indicator for Overtraining
Before my liaison with triathlon I had experienced signs of overtraining twice. It used to be hard for me to interpret the signs for it. This might be because running is hard on your body and as a runner you are used to having bad days, especially when having 2 speed sessions a week. Mixing up training with cycling and swimming kind of changed my senses for this and it started to get easier for me to distinguish general fatigue from a bad day.
After all I am very happy to have taken on the challenge of triathlon. My debut in Kingscliff went very well, placing 25th overall. 2 weeks later I was blown away by finishing 3rd in my age group in Canberra, thus qualifying for the 70.3 Ironman 2014 world champs in Canada.
Though I will go back to running by the end of next year, training for triathlon has helped me as an athlete and definitely improved my skills. Cycling and swimming will continue to be a part of my training schedule.
Give it a try!