Sprint triathlons are not scary

Great first time race report, including some great tips.

She Writes, Sometimes

tri photosYesterday I learned that sprint triathlons are not scary.

Sunday, I finished my first triathlon. I completed my first half-marathon in 2011 and my second in 2013. The result? Knees and hips like an 80-year-old; I was done. For recovery, I started cross-training by cycling and swimming. Naturally, the next step was a triathlon. I think i might be hooked.

Previously, I wrote that I had more questions than answers related to sprint triathlons, which involve a 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. Today, I have the answers.

Am I wet the entire race?

I’m guilty of having a freak out moment when I stepped out of the pool, dripping wet, and into the low 50 degree temperatures to run to my bike, but as soon as I got into the transition area, I got tough. I dried off my legs and feet and opted to wear…

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Misery Loves Company – Tips on Finding a Group Ride


group irde

Triathlon is an individual sport, and training can get lonely. Group rides are a great way to get in some miles, and meet some new people. Also, riding with others slightly faster than you will improve your fitness.

Here are some tips on finding a group ride:

Finding a Group

Do a quick Google search for bike shops, and clubs in your area. Most bike shops have weekly group rides that leave from the shop. On their website, there is usually a section that shows ride times, and routes. Also, local bike/tri clubs will have weekly rides. Send the club an email and ask about rides, and express your interest. Most groups are happy to have new riders.

Group Paces

When you find a group ride listing there will be a pace posted with it, usually denoted by a letter. Here’s a quick breakdown of the letters and paces:

  • C Pace – 16 mph – Usually no one will be left behind
  • B Pace – 16 – 20 mph
  • A Pace – 18 – 22 mph
  • A+ Pace 22+ mph

Groups may vary from these paces. Check with the group leader before the ride to determine the pace. Also, be sure you are comfortable with the pace they are riding. If you can’t hold the pace, and start to ride erratically, it can cause issues for the rest of the group.

Know the Route

Issues arise when you are out on the roads. In case you are dislodged from the group be sure you are familiar with the roads. Most groups rides have a cue sheets available with the route, or it may be available on a website. It is your responsibility to have a general idea of the roads. It is also a good idea to bring your cell phone.

Be Friendly

Many groups have been riding together for years, and being the new person can be intimidating. The best way to deal with this is to be friendly and introduce yourself to other riders. Find out who is the group ride leader and introduce yourself. Most groups are happy to have new people, and will be willing to help you out.

Post Ride

When you get back to the parking lot, don’t just throw your bike on the rack, and roll. Hang out and chat with other riders. I have met some really interesting and wonderful people on group rides. After a ride most people are feeling good, and its a great time to make new connections.

Charity Rides

Local charity rides are a great way to get introduced to group riding. These rides are very beginner friendly. Check the web for charity rides happening in your area. If it is a big event, these rides will also have training rides leading up to the event. Below are a couple of links to some large national charity rides>

Bike MS –  Bike MS is  national ride to fund MS research.

Tour de Cure – TdC has rides in 44 states to raise money for diabetes research. They will also have training rides leading up to the event.


Do you know of any great charity rides? Leave a suggestion in the comments.
photo credit: ScottElliottSmithson via photopin cc

My First Triathlon with Bart Yasso



Bart Yasso is an icon in the running and endurance world. Yasso is the Chief Running Officer for Runner’s World, and has an awesome passion for adventure. Yasso has completed races on all seven continents, completed the Badwater 146 through Death Valley, completed Ironman five times, and rode across the USA twice unsupported.

Yasso is fantastic writer as well, I highly recommend his book, My Life on the run.

Below Bart generously shares experiences from his first triathlon. He has gone on to race and win many more triathlons, but just like everyone else, you start with your first race.


What was your first race? Location, Name, Year, Distance

My first tri was the Emmaus Triathlon, Eastern Pennsylvania in 1984, 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. One of the first half marathon distance races in the country.

What motivated you to try your first Triathlon?

The triathlon craze was taking off and I wanted to be part of it.

What was your athletic background?

I was a runner for many years so I just needed to add a few swims per week and some weekend bike rides to my training.

What was your biggest concern when starting out? How did you overcome it?

My only concern was my right shoulder during the swim. My right shoulder pops out of joint on occasion. It would not be fun if it happened during the swim. I was careful in the swim I stayed away from the mass start.

Were there any difficult/funny moments in that first race?

No I had a great race I finished 4th, When I see photos I laugh because most of us did all 3 disciplines in a Speedo.

What bike did you use? 

1984 Team Fuji
1984 Team Fuji

Team Fuji

Were you hooked after that first race?

Yes I was hooked right away.

What piece of advice you wish you had when you were starting out?

We didn’t have energy bars or gels back in 1984. I remember wishing I had some food on the bike. I was pretty darn hungry on that 13.1 mile run.

What was your feeling as you crossed the finish line?

I remember thinking I can win some of these races if I take this seriously. I won a bunch triathlons/biathlons back in the 80s. Overall and loved every minute of the race.

“You Can” – Overcome Reasons Not to Try a Triathlon


Has completing a triathlon been in the back of your mind, but you haven’t signed up? Do you say, I’d love to do a triathlon one day? Let’s make one day today. There are always reasons to start something one day in the future. These reasons make us put off things we really want to do, until later becomes never.

Here are the top reasons I hear for not trying a triathlon, and some suggestions to deal with these issues:

“I can’t – Its too hard” – If you are in a general state of good health, you can train for and complete a triathlon. Its just takes a little knowledge, and some quality training. Choose a good training plan, that fits into your lifestyle, and will get to race day ready. What you should say is I can’t right now.

Training for a race will get difficult at times. There may be times when you really think you can’t. These are the times when you can dig deep and make a breakthrough. The more you struggle and persevere, the sweeter the reward.

“I’m not fit enough” – You may or may not be fit enough to finish a triathlon right now. That’s why proper training is so important to make sure you are fit enough. Athletes of all sizes and ages complete triathlons. If you wait until you are fit enough, it may never happen.

“I don’t have the time” –  Everyone is busy. You may not have the time right now with your current schedule. You have to make time for things you want to do, and will make a positive impact on your life. If you are really honest with yourself, you have more time than you think. There are 168 hours in a week. Can you spare 6-5 hours to train? You can get up an hour earlier, and fit in a run. You can swim at the YMCA during lunch twice a week. Pay yourself first with your time, and invest in your health and wellness.

Link: First Triathlon in under Four Hours a Week 

“I’ll embarrass myself” – When is the last time someone was challenging themselves to try new things to better their lifestyle, and you laughed in their face? I am going with never. Most people respect others who are trying to improve themselves with new exciting goals. Put yourself out there, and others will admire your courage to try new things.

Link: Fantastic Finish Fridays. Stories from new triathletes that overcame fears to finish their first triathlon.

“Triathlon is too expensive” – Triathlon can be an expensive sport, but you can get started for less than you think. Try out your first race with some borrowed equipment, and see how you like it. If you get hooked, then you can invest in better equipment.

Link: Getting started in Triathlon for less than $100

“I don’t have the equipment” – If you look in your garage right now, you probably have almost everything you need for your first race. You only need a bike, helmet, goggles, running shoes and something to wear. All of the other accessories like GPS watches, race belts, and compression sleeves, aren’t necessary. Keep it simple for your first race and have fun.

Link: First Race Esstenials

photo credit: natellev via photopin cc

I’ve Signed Up For My First Triathlon, Now What?

Race Start

You’re awesome. You took the plunge, plopped down your money, and signed up for that first triathlon. Now what? Don’t stress. Here a quick guide for next steps to get started on your triathlon journey.

Step One – Tell Your Family/Friends – This may seem obvious, but don’t forget to fill everyone in. You’ll need a support system to help you through training.  People are general supportive of others going after new goals. really keep your significant other in the loop. You may need to trade some training time for household chores.

Step Two – Inventory Your Equipment –Training and racing Triathlons definitely requires some equipment. Before you go and drop whole paycheck on a new tri kit, check and see what you can make work from what you already have.

Here’s a quick guide for first race essentials. First Race Essentials.

Step Three – Choose a Training Plan – A great training plan is the key to ensure you show up for the race ready. The plan should layout your workouts week by week leading up to the race. This is the most important step when you start your training.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a plan:

  • How many weeks? Most plans for a sprint race will be between 8-12 weeks long. Be sure there is enough time to complete the plan before your event.
  • How much time each week?  There are only so many hours in a week, be sure you have enough hours to fit in your training. Your plan could be as few a fours hours a week. Four Hour Post Here.
  • What are your current abilities? 
  • Is the plan doable? Start with a plan your feel comfortable completing. If you start a plan that is over your head, you may get frustrated, and quit.

 Beginnertriathlete.com has some great plans to get you started.

Step Four – Schedule your workouts Now that you chose your plan, it is time to schedule your workouts. Sit down with your calendar and fill in the times. This is an important step, as it takes choice out of the equation. I like to do this weekly, as I have a good idea of what my week will look like. Be sure to consider open pool times in your schedule.

Step Five – Find a training buddy – A training partner provides encouragement and accountability. You are less likely to hit that snooze button seven times when that alarm goes off at 5:30 am on Saturday, if you know you have to meet your training partner at 6:30 for your long run.

Congrats again on taking the plunge into Triathlon. Training will be easy some days, and extremely difficult on other days. There will be days that you dread going out for another run. On those days, lace up those shoes and just start the workout. Most of the time just starting will get you through that workout, and you will feel much better after.

Secret Sauce to Massive Improvement



Consistency is the secret sauce of massive improvement. The accomplishment of large and rewarding goals are completed by steady work over time. If there is one strategy, that will continue to reap benefits, when all else fails,  it’s consistency. If you want to lose weight be consistent in your nutrition. If you want to go from an inactive person to an Ironman, you need to show up and workout consistently.

Consistency is not sexy. Your enthusiasm will ebb and flow. Putting on your running shoes and getting out the door, when all you want to do is marathon through “House of Cards”, is where the improvements are made. This is the power of showing up everyday, and doing what you do.

Here are some ideas to add more consistency, without becoming a hard-ass disciplinarian:

Have a plan – Choose your goal, and create a plan to get you there. Or even better have someone else with a little more knowledge create your plan. The plan needs to be clear, and written out. Start with a plan, that you are confident will get you to your goal.

Schedule your plan – Take out your calendar and schedule your workouts.  These workouts are now just like any other appointment in your calendar. If something pressing comes up, reschedule your appointment. The idea here is to take choice out of the equation. No need to decide what time to workout today, it is already decided. All you have to do is show up. 

Execute your workouts – This sounds like something the Terminator does. Again, the goal is to have less choices. Check your workout plan for the day, and get in done like a half man, half robot assassin. If it is an easy day, enjoy the scenery. If it is interval day, push until your gums hurt.

Don’t let perfect, be the enemy of great – I know you have heard this cliche before, but its so true. If you miss a workout, because circumstances out of your control (a child projectile vomiting, your boss’s unrealistic time lines, forgot your workout clothes), reschedule or let it go. Don’t let a missed or terrible workout here or there crush your dreams. Using this rule more than 15% of the time is an excuse, and not productive.

Achieving big, meaningful goals doesn’t happen over night. Keeping chipping away bit by bit, day by day.

How can you add more consistency to your workouts? What tricks do you use to keep yourself regressing?