Last night, I went to a workshop for the DC Triathlon club entitled "Strategic Season and Race Planning." The woman leading it, Coach AJ, was great, and obviously has a ton of experience in helping people take on triathlons the smart way.
Over the course of the session, I learned that I have done almost everything that one could do wrong when it comes to Triathlons. This matches my intuition, I honestly prefer to just jump right into something first, then worry about adding discipline into the mix at a later date. Still, I think it's worth highlighting all the things I did wrong in my training last year:
1. Your "Goal Race" shouldn't be your first triathlon. Unsaid, but it feels like she probably would have said this is especially true for a Half Ironman.
2. Your First Triathlon should also not be in a body of water that you've never swam in before. This is especially true if it's the Atlantic Ocean and it's 61 degrees.
3. Apparently long runs are supposed to be done slower, and not be taken at an all out pace. To be fair, I've heard this from others and not heeded that advice, but I'm the guy who looks like he's about to die at the end of pretty much any run that I do.
4. You should have at least one rest day each week. So about that stretch where I did workouts for 21 straight days?
5. Training should go up for three weeks, then down for a week consistently, in order to rest and build up endurance. My training was a bit more ad hoc and generally increasing.
6. You should recover for at least 4 weeks after a Half Ironman before doing anything strenuous. My four weeks after the race included the following:
- running 7 out of 9 days at an average heart rate of 156 before - jetting off to Switzerland and doing almost sixty miles of intense hiking, then - jumping right into Marine Corps Marathon training and doing the Clarendon Day 5k and 10k on the same day after biking 60 miles the day before, and finally - ending September with biking too and from Baltimore (46 miles each way)
Other mistakes not good enough for the top 6: my race day diet consisted of grabbing random stuff at the grocery store the night before and hoping that it would be good, only doing one or two brick workouts throughout the whole time, doing my first ever open water practice swim two days before the race, trying on my wetsuit for the first time two days before the race, and probably a few other things I already have forgotten.
Of course, that did all kind of work out, but I do wonder what a smarter training plan would have done. I missed the six hour mark in the Half Ironman by 6 minutes, could I have hit that? I fell apart in the last half of the Marine Corps, missing my PR by 7 minutes. Then, finally after dialing down the training a bit, I crushed my PR at the Nashville Half Marathon, finishing it in just under 1:37.
I am going to revamp my training plan a bit for 2018 and give this a try "the right way," and actually stick to it. We'll see how that goes!