Tuesday, 17 May 2011


In the most recent issue of Women's Health magazine, there's an article about triathlons--mainly how you can become a triathlete (not to mention get a smokin' hot body) by following their 12-week training plan of running, cycling, and swimming.

Hmpf. Sounds easy enough.

Well, even for me--who considers herself a 'fitness buff' and in relatively good shape--the whole notion of training for a triathlon is a little daunting. Okay, maybe a lot daunting.

But what's great about the training plan outlined in WH is that it starts off slow and becomes increasingly more challenging as the weeks pass--logical, right?--insofar that it becomes available for (pretty much) anyone to tackle. Okay, maybe make a few adjustments if you've never swum before or fall off your bike going uphill.

So, do I want to train for a triathlon? Yes and no. While I do want to train as if I were competing in a triathlon, I have no intention of actually entering a race (at least not today, but definitely some day).

All throughout high school, I swam competitively, and it was hands-down the best shape I have ever been in. Plus, for just $10, I can get a pass to my university gym for an entire year, where I can use the pool as much as I want--so why not start swimming again? As the temperatures continue to warm, I'm also spending more time outside running--ahem, even better: it's free. Thus, training as if I were a triathlete is more a challenge for me, a way to (re)introduce new elements of structure to my current fitness regime. Some of you might remember me saying that I was going to start training for a half-marathon sometime this summer. This is still very much the plan, but that won't be happening until at the earliest August, long after I've completed this 12-week 'challenge'.

Every 3-4 weeks, I'll post the next month's training plan. Here is the first month:

Since I am merely treating this training plan as a challenge for myself and not to actually train for a competition, there will be some minor tweaks made--but all in keeping with the intensity and endurance-building stressed within the plan. For instance, the only bike I own is an old road bike from the 70's, which is in major need of an oil--and paint--job, so any cycling I'll be doing will most likely be in the form of a spin class. Also, don't forget my love of boxing--where in heavens will I find time to box with all this running, cycling, and swimming?! I'll still be boxing a couple of times a week, but maybe in place of a spin class prescribed by the training program.

Remember, this training plan isn't for everyone--whether you want to train for a triathlon or not. If you do feel up for the challenge, start the workouts, but then find that they're too challenging or even too easy, adjust them to what you know you're capable of--after all, only you can judge what's the best for your body.

Also important, always exercise safely (this is hopefully common sense to you). If you're unsure of something--you don't know how to use a spin bike or you're weary of a potential injury--ask someone and/or seek help immediately. The worst thing that could happen is that you injure yourself.

And finally, have fun with it! Personally, I love to challenge myself and am always looking for new ways to improve myself. However, it can be difficult to take on something of this nature (and of this size!) alone, so ask a buddy to go along for the ride. If you miss a workout, don't beat yourself up for it. Just get back on track the next day.

Oh, and of course: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. When you're sweating as much as you will be when you're following this training plan, you'll need to.

So, what do you think? You in? The first official start day will be next Monday (for me, at least). Starting then, I'll include a daily update of how my training is going. So, join in the fun and we can work this one out together!

Countdown to Day 1 starting now: 6 days to tri-training.

For the full article on triathlon training from Women's Health, click here.

images via google and women's health mag


  1. Hey G!

    It's so funny that I just read this post, as I must have missed it from before. Triathlon training is serious work. Congratulations! I have just adopted the sport myself this year. I am an avid kick-boxer, personal trainer, marathon runner... so this was the logical evolution of wanting to compete in something that is challenging and new.

    The sport is a little daunting at first because it does require some financial investment as well as diversifying your training schedule.

    To get started, I had to buy a bike (and all the paraphernalia that is needed: shoes, helmet, water bottle, shorts, etc), a wetsuit (there's a great way to rent to own a wetsuit if you are not sure you are going to get fully 'immersed' in the sport!), but the running shoes I already had.

    It is a pretty basic sport. Swim, bike, run.

    The only way for me to truly commit to the training (and this is just a personal approach), I booked my first race before even jumping in the pool. And it worked! I only gave myself a month to prepare, which is not smart in retrospect but really got me moving fast!

    The great thing about this sport is that there are so many variations of the distances and races you can do: Try-a-Tri, Sprint Tri, Endurance Tri, Olympic Tri, Half-Ironman, Full Ironman, Military Ironman. It really is easy to slowly adjust to the sport without overdoing it.

    I started with the Try-Tri. It was only a 375m swim, 10km bike and a 2.5km run. On their own, those distances aren't that bad. But the trick to this sport is putting them all together! I am not the greatest swimmer. Swimming for me before consisted of going to the beach and playing in the water! Plus, I hadn't been on a bike since I was 12 years old, no joke. So two out of the three components gave me a challenge to master.

    I finished 16th overall out of 280, and 3rd in my category of men ages 25-29. After surprising myself with how well I did, I am doing another one three weeks later (THIS WEEKEND!). Doubling all the distances in every category, and taking place in the beautiful Muskokas, It's sure to be an even more challenging yet phenomenal experience!

    G, I encourage you to take the intensive training your doing and apply it to the real thing. Competing in a Triathlon will marry that super competitive edge you have with the adrenaline rush of group and interactive sports. It is in one word "Exhilarating!"

  2. That's amazing, Zach! I fully intend to partake in a race one day--hopefully, sooner rather than later--and every bit of encouragement helps.

    Thanks for listing some of the different (levels of) races--I'll for sure look into them.

    I'm curious, how do you find the bike riding after having been off a bike for so long? I'm an avid spinner, but road biking...not so much. Once I decided on a race, I would definitely have to invest in a proper bike, except I'm terrified of riding on the road!

  3. As the saying goes... "It's like riding a bike". And it was. Just like riding a bike. Getting back on was easy enough. It's actually learning how to 'cycle' that is really more difficult to master.

    I went to a proper bike shop and spoke to a guy that was well versed in cycling and specifically Triathlon riding. After weighing all the options, I decided to really invest in a slightly above par entry level road bike. ($1500). At this price range, you can have a bike that you can really compete at but also gives you room to upgrade on in a few years without having to buy a whole new bike. People are racing on bike from $200 t0 $20,000 - there really is no rule. But just like you invest in better shoes or equipment in any other sport, every little bit helps. My bike is so lite, it requires much less energy to move compared to others.

    As for the actual riding. Remember one thing: you are not doing a Tri race in the middle of downtown Toronto traffic. While city riding is very challenging for so many outside factors (traffic lights, cars, cabbies, streetcar tracks, pedestrians, etc), in the race it is much much easier.

    You focus on the hill ahead, changing gears up and down, and keeping your legs pumping at a high cadence without too much strain. The rest is just the scenery and remembering to breathe.