Triathlon/Duathlon Training

As triathlon season gets closer, I’ve started to gear some of my training days toward skills that I’ll need on race days. I just started doing a few bike/run bricks over the last couple weeks. I haven’t done any of those since my last triathlon in 2015. During the first one my hip abductors and shoulders were sore for the first mile of the run. The second time was more typical of how I usually feel – heavy legs to start the run and feeling like I’m crawling when my pace is actually faster than it feels. I had forgotten about that aspect of running off the bike. I was pleasantly surprised that I ran faster off the bike than I have during any of my runs since I’ve returned to running over this last month. My problem foot has been fine during all of my runs so far, which haven’t gone past four miles at a time yet. My foot still aches at times, especially if I’ve been on my feet a lot at work. It’s enough to still keep me on edge, but not enough to keep me from short runs every other day or so.

There’s a duathlon that’s on my radar in a few weeks, so today I decided I should try a run/bike/run workout. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that combo. I went to Stony Creek Metropark and it was a beautiful day. Warm enough but not hot, and luckily the wind wasn’t 15-25 mph like it has been the last couple times I’ve been out on my bike!

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I started by running a mile, rode just under 19 miles on the bike, then ran three more.

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It kind of gave me some transition practice, but obviously I didn’t move very quickly since I took three to four minutes. It wasn’t exactly a race-specific kind of transition though. Of course I won’t have to get my stuff from the car and worry about getting my bike out of the bike rack or locking it back up. I took the first mile of running pretty easy, so I felt totally fine when I got on the bike. I’m still not thrilled with my cycling skills though. I had a new dilemma today. As I rode over a bridge and there was a transition in the pavement, my bike bumped just enough for my water bottle to go flying out of the cage. I was able to stop and go get it, but it happened again on a different bridge a few minutes later. Sorry to the woman hiking in that area who must have heard the f-bomb I shouted. Not so much luck that time – my poor Camelbak bottle went flying down into the creek. Part of the issue is that I’m so awkward on the bike that I’m afraid I’ll fall off if I reach down to my lower cage while I’m riding. I’m seriously uncoordinated and have terrible balance on the bike. So, I probably look like a dork with a cage mounted up by my handlebars. Having the bottle upright probably isn’t the most secure method. It works for me though, or at least it always has up until today. Luckily I had another bottle on me, and that one survived the rest of the ride. Maybe the one bottle has a tighter fit and I’ll have to stick with that. It was pretty frustrating but probably good to get out of the way during training. I sure hope I figure it out now so it never happens in a race! Aside from that, it was my typical ride. I don’t seem to ever improve beyond an average of 16-17 mph. I’m very aware that the bike is my weakness, especially when a big group of “real” cyclists flew past me. Stony is a good place for me to train because there are rolling hills and I need that kind of workout.

I had the heavy leg feeling as I started my second run, but nothing too bad. I did end up going much faster than I thought though, averaging close to an 8-minute pace. I’ve been doing a lot of 9-minute or slower miles lately as I’ve been cautious about my return to running, so that was much faster than I expected. It’s what came naturally, though I was breathing pretty heavily. Aside from the whole water bottle incident, it was a good workout that reassured me that I can pull off the duathlon in a few weeks as long as my foot cooperates between now and then.

In addition to training, I’ve also been picking up some new gear. My schedule of swimming at least three days a week has done a number on my swimsuit, so it was time for a new one of those.

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Can you believe the suit on the left used to have colors similar to the one on the right?!

I also ordered a pair of tri shorts from Coeur Sports recently. I follow several women, like the awesome Caitlin Constantine at Fit and Feminist, who are Coeur ambassadors and have nothing but great things to say about their products. Coeur’s shorts are known for the “seam-free chamois” that provide a comfortable, chafe-free fit. I saw that there was going to be a Coeur “trunk show” at Level Multisport in Birmingham, MI, so I went to that yesterday. The women were very friendly and knowledgeable, plus there was a 20% off sale and treats like fruit and cookies! I got another pair of shorts, ordered a new tri top, and was able to pick a free gift. A pair of compression socks were one of the options, and I was pleasantly surprised that they were free.

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Between getting some new gear and having some productive training, I’m getting more and more anxious to get the season rolling.

– Janet
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz


Approaching Triathlon Season

After a weekend that felt more like summer than spring, I feel energized and have been thinking about the upcoming triathlon season. This IS Michigan though, and I know we may not be totally in the clear weather-wise quite yet. I vividly remember being very annoyed that it snowed when I ran a 5K in mid-May last year.

However, the nice weather has become more frequent and I went for my first outside bike ride of the year last weekend. I’ve been riding 15-25 miles inside three times a week for a while now and was curious to see how I would do outside. I took my bike to the Macomb Orchard Trail, which is paved, flat, and runs 23.5 miles from one end to the other. I thought maybe I’d go for 30 miles, but as I rode along I decided maybe I should push all the way to 40. Beautiful weather and a lot of pretty scenery made it easy to keep going.

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The first 20 miles were really nice, but battling 15-25 mph winds on the way back made the second half of the ride more challenging. Still – I finished 40 miles which was the longest I’d ever ridden. That ride made me question if I’d want to tackle 56 miles on the bike for the half Ironman distance one day. We’ll see if I get that ambitious at some point.

In the meantime, running is the questionable factor. I’ve been thinking about doing some Olympic-distance triathlons and know I should be able to handle the nearly 25-mile bike distance for those races. I’ve got the swimming down since I’ve been swimming a mile three days a week. I’m used to running being my strength in the triathlon, so it’s a bit odd for that to be the weakness right now.

I’ve been very frustrated by lingering complications from the stress fracture in my foot. After reaggravating it in January, I took nine weeks off of running. I really didn’t want to get stuck in the boot again, so I took time off and hoped it would be enough. Week after week went by, and it took that long before my foot felt reasonable enough to try running again. I was still a bit weary, so I went to a sports medicine doctor and had x-rays taken. They didn’t show a thing. I don’t know if that’s reassuring though. X-rays don’t always show stress fractures, and the doctor couldn’t see any calcification or any sign that I’d even had one. I had gone to a podiatrist when I initially injured my foot, and both the fracture and beginning of the healing showed on those x-rays. I didn’t go back to that doctor because I didn’t like his approach of sending everyone out the door with Superfeet insoles. I think they might help some people, but I hated them when I tried them once in the past and I’m not convinced I need them. All I know is that my left foot still does not feel as normal as my right foot, and there are still occasional aches and feelings of discomfort. I did some run/walk intervals as I reintroduced running, and over the last week or two I’ve gotten back to continuous runs of up to four miles.

I’m going to be very cautious and my ultimate goal for now is simply to be able to run the 10K distance involved in Olympic triathlons. The sports medicine doctor talked about increasing endurance or speed but not both at once. Maybe that’s what did me in earlier this year. Right now my approach for the summer is to go out and have fun doing triathlons. I want to get back out there and enjoy the adventure of doing them rather than aiming to go as fast I can. I’m sure when I’m actually in the race environment I’ll want to push, but I’m not putting that pressure on myself going into them. I still haven’t registered for anything since I’ve just gotten back to running and need to see how that goes. I have plenty of races on my radar though. Sprints, Olympic…maybe even a duathlon before the water is warm enough for triathlons? I hope my foot will cooperate because I’m anxious to get out there!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz