Congratulations on signing up for the Cayuga Lake Triathlon! We have worked hard over the years to make the Cayuga Lake Triathlon a great experience for all participants. This email is the first of six monthly emails that I will be sending to help you with race training. As a sports medicine doctor, I see many athletes who get injured from their training and I don’t want that to be you. I have some insight into triathlons in general, based on my own extensive racing experience, and the Cayuga Lake Triathlon in particular being one of the race’s founders.
I will divide my advice into three groups: first time triathletes, those who do some triathlons recreationally, and those who aspire to be competitive in their age groups. I encourage anyone with health concerns and those older than 40 years of age and have been sedentary to see your doctor prior to starting a training program.
For you first time triathletes, or “newbies” in triathlon speak, you are about to embark on a fun journey. I am so jealous- I wish I were doing my first triathlon! They key to safely beginning your training is to start slowly. Don’t stress as you have plenty of time to get ready for the race. The journey is supposed to be fun. The best two areas to focus on in the winter in the Northeast are the run and swim. Consider running 5-10 minutes 3x a week at an easy pace. Even if you are fit and do other activities such as basketball or soccer, nothing trains you for running like running. If you have been sedentary you may do better with a run/walk initially. If you have access to a pool, consider doing some swimming. When I asked one of my friends, who is an excellent swimmer, how I could get my swim better, he said to swim more. It made a lot of sense to me. The swim is the discipline that people are often most intimidated by. If you can get in the pool once or twice a week, it will give you a jump start. Don’t worry about speed with running or swimming-just start!
For the experienced triathlete, it is time to think about the upcoming year. Hopefully you have been exercising for your health and just need to change directions. However, if you were sitting on the couch waiting for the right cue, take this as your wake up call. Ask yourself what went well last year and what you want to do differently this year? If things have worked well you might not want to make any changes. However, change is not bad. Each year I try to do something a little differently to mix it up. The hardest training discipline to increase is running, so I suggest you start running now. Don't wait until the warm weather kicks in. Remember, there is no bad weather, justinappropriate clothing for the given weather. I always tell my injured patients to balance training so they do more when they don’t want (like in bad weather) and less when they want to so there is more balance and less chance for injury.
For the competitive triathlete, now is the time to focus on your weaknesses. I personally am not a very strong swimmer so have committed myself to joining a masters swim group. If your goal is to win your age group, the biggest chunk of the race is the bike. Usually the people with the best bike times are the winners. You are still in the base building time of the year. You should be preparing your body to do some heavier training in the upcoming months by increasing your volume now. There will be plenty of time to do hard training sessions as the season builds. It is also a nice time do a gear check. Maybe Santa did not give you the power meter or watch that you were hoping for and you might want to take the plunge now to figure it out prior to the upcoming season.
Whatever your race goals are for this year. It is time to get out there and start moving your body. Your heart and mind will thank you!
Andrew R. Getzin, MD
Cayuga Medical Center Sports Medicine and Athletic Performance