Thursday, December 16, 2010

The six disciplines of triathlon

Triathlon is commonly thought (and even referred to in this blog) as a 3 discipline sport; swimming, biking, and running. That's what people see on TV or at races, and it's what entices us to get into the sport. It's where the attention is focused, and what people associate with winning and success. But for folks who participate and take the time to think about what they're doing, there are at least 6 disciplines to triathlon. For the purpose of this post, I'm going to skip those 3 disciplines and talk about the 3 you might not think about: transition, training, and eating.

For those who don't know, transitions are the part of the race where you switch from swim to bike or bike to run. Most triathletes I know think about transitions in a way we think about our morning commutes; Get going early and you can avoid all the traffic. But some folks are about more than just shaving a few seconds; folks like a former professional and transition specialist who once famously said something to the effect of "Why worry about shaving a few seconds off your bike or run when you can shave whole minutes off your transition?" It takes a lot of thought and preparation to create a good, fast, and organized transition area that will allow you do to what you need to do quickly and with a minimum of fuss all the while staying out of everyone elses way. Based on my times from most races, it's something I really need to work on, and something that i find myself at odds with almost everyone around me on. The towel goes on top, folks.

The next discipline is the one I share most about here on the blog, and the one that takes the most work for the majority of triathletes. Putting yourself through proper preparation that will just allow you to finish a race is one thing. That's what I did last year, train to finish the race (and just barely enough it would seem). It's a great goal for first timers, and is the bare minimum. Training to be competitive (something Ive admittedly never done) or just reach a time goal (something I'm doing now) is a whole other level and requires a lot of dedication. I don't mean to make triathlon seem like some intense struggle, but I'm not sure people have haven't prepared for races like this really understand what that much training is like. Heck, I'm only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now, and I'm starting to realize how much you really have to put in. Especially if you're starting where I'm at.

Lastly, there is the discipline that I struggle with the most, and that's eating. Triathlon training, or hard physical training for any athletic endeavor, requires properly supporting your nutritional needs; aka food. There's really two sides to that as well; eating properly in order to get or stay fit, and then also eating to feed your body's needs during and after the race. Not surprisingly, I have eating during a race down pretty well. If it involves food intake, I'm good at it. Ive never had a problem during a race that was caused because I didn't eat enough. There have been times where I wanted to drink more, but didn't have more fluids available until the next aid stop. And that's only because I drank it all already. In fact, i drank so much during Timberman, I had a full bottle on my bike when I got to transition 2, because I simply couldn't drink any more at that time.

My problem clearly comes with dealing with how to properly limit my intake, whether I'm training hard or not. I'm getting better though. Last night I had a lot going on so I decided not to exercise. However I ate properly and lost another pound. It's still a challenge sometimes but it does seem to be getting easier of late. Tonight it's Rachelle's work party and tomorrow is mine, so it will be an interesting 24 hours.

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