Triathlon Training & Races - Matt's Blog
Triathlon Training & Races - Matt's Blog
Sharing my experiences in training, racing and learning the 'science' of progressing in Triathlon - from total novice to top-ten finisher (and hopefully beyond!). Stop by to listen to what I have to say, but don't forget, the whole point of web 2.0 is interaction, so don't be afraid or too shy to leave your own thoughts!

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More lessons learned

prhimby prhimMay 10th 2010
More lessons learned
Yesterday was my first ever open water triathlon; and like pretty much every other race so far this year (have now done three Duathlons and two Triathlons as part of my 12-race Year of Living Painfully - it proved to a valuable learning experience.

Given this was my first mass-start open water swim; it pretty much lived up to its fearsome reputation, with flailing limbs everywhere and me ingesting what felt like half the lake (thank God it wasn't salt water...). I'm not sure there's anything that can quite prepare you for that happening the first time. I guess I could have held back, but I knew that my swim was relatively strong, and I didn't want to unnecessarily sacrifice too much time.

In fact, the key lesson I learned was that I probably should have had more self confidence and put myself nearer the front of the wave, rather than mid-pack. With the fourth-fastest swim time in my wave (of 49), I think I should have had a more ballsy start and got ahead of the melee. As it was, I settled in behind a decent swimmer and drafted him for the first 200m before making a break once the pack had dispersed a little (lesson #1b - drafting is perfectly legal in the swim!).

So that was lesson #1. For any other novices out there - one bit of advice I can give you - don't miss the opportunity to get into the water BEFORE the start. Much, much better to get used to the cold than have the shock hit you as you start!

Lesson #2 was to 'ride your own race' on the bike. I ended up ahead of most people in my wave, by virtue of the swim time, and was quickly overtaking slower competitors from the previous wave. I think this had the effect of actually making me think I was going faster than I really was (no speedo on bike). As a result I think I took it a little too easy and probably came in 1-2 minutes slower than I should have (7th fastest in wave).

Another bit of advice to fellow novices - forget the drink on a 20km bike leg; you don't need it. The body should be capable of lasting up to 90 minutes without major rehydration (or so I am told!) and the extra fumbling for bottles will probably hurt more than help. Obviously, if the weather is seriously hot, you may need extra hydration!! But since yesterday was like being in a freezer, I didn't miss my usual drink.

Lesson #3 is a recurring one, but also one I seem to constantly fail to address. Learn how to run faster off the bike! Getting a stitch after the first 2km didn't help, but that doesn't really excuse a very poor 20:58 5km time (22nd in wave). I could make an excuse about how it was so cold I couldn't feel my fingers or toes in T2, but that would be just an excuse...

As such I am now determined to focus more than ever on my running; specifically my 5km sprint off the bike. My target is to get this down to sub-19 minutes by the end of the 2010 season (London in August, ideally). I welcome any advice from triathletes who have overcome similar issues! But I guess I will be doing more bricks and intervals and perhaps leave out some of my longer steady-pace runs.

So, considering it's still my first season of Triathlon, I probably should be happy with 53/326 overall and 7/49 in age group - but I can't help feeling that will a little more structure to my running training it could be so much better!

I wonder if never being satisfied with your performance is the sign of a true triathlete?!
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