The number one fear of new triathletes is swimming. Unless you learned to swim as a child and have been around water your entire life, learning to swim as an adult can be daunting. It is perfectly rational to have this fear. As humans we can survive in water, but its not our natural habitat. Did you know the average dolphin is 80% efficient moving through the water, and an world class swimmer is only 12%.
The key to learning to swim and overcoming your fear is to become more comfortable in the water. If you can learn to relax and not fight the water, you ability to swim will increase quickly.
Here three steps to get you more comfortable in the water, and eventually swimming. You have to get comfortable first to make progress in your swimming:
Continue reading Three Steps to Overcoming Swim Fears.
Loud music blaring, an instructor yelling through a headset, and sweat flying everywhere. Ah Spin Class! Spin class is essentially riding a bike, but not actually going anywhere. Spin class as an effective tool in your triathlon training plan. As with all training activity, there are some pro and cons. Below, I will discuss the advantages and concerns of spin class when used in an effective training plan.
Let’s start with the positives:
- Save Time – Just jump in a class and go. No need to get on a bunch of gear to ride outside or drive to a safe area to ride.
- No Cars – I have personally never heard of anyone being hit by a car on a spin bike.
- Constant Effort – There aren’t any stop lights, cars, dogs, or anything else to make you stop. This is the biggest “bang for your buck” with spin. If you are on the bike for 45 minutes, you get 45 minutes of work. This is especially effective for interval work. You can maintian your effort for your interval without uninterrupted.
- Weather, What Weather – Unless the AC breaks, there’s no need to worry about conditions. No hot, cold, rain, sleet. This also means you can’t use the weather as an excuse not to train.
- Motivation – The energy from a room full of others working hard can give you the motivation to push. A good instructor will also keep the energy level high.
- Pre-planned Workout – No need to plan or think, just show up and do the instructor’s workout. The energy spent planning a workout is sometimes harder than just doing it.
Here are some areas where spin classes lack effectiveness for triathlon training:
- Too much intensity – Most spin classes are designed to get a good sweat going, and make the clients feel like they have put in a hard effort. This is great if your goal for that workout was high intensity, if be mindful of your intensity. A good training plan will have a mix of high and lower intensity work. Too much high intensity work leads to injury and burnout. You can still do class on an easier planned day, just dial back the resistance and intensity.
- Bike Handling – All of these spin classes are going to give you some new found speed. Before your race be sure to work on some bike handling skills. Bike handling skills include turning, leaning, stopping, climbing, and descending. The only way to gain these skills is to go on the road and ride at your race speed. The more comfortable you are with these skills the faster you can go.
- Speed Perception – You can put massive power to the spin bike pedals, but you don’t move. It’s important to get out on the road, and know what speed you produce for your effort. In a race proper pacing is balancing the effort vs speed. Know what effort produces what speed, sop you can properly pace during your race.
Over all spin classes are great for bike and overall fitness. I personally attend at least one class a week. I go to class with my wife, as it is a workout we can do together, and both get benefit. They are not a complete substitute for time on the road. Be sure to do some miles on the road, so on race day you are comfortable on the bike.
Do you use spin classes in your training?
The new year is a great time for new beginnings. It’s time to break bad habits, and make this the best year ever. As with every facet of life, we have resolutions for our triathlon season as well. Just like the eager early year gym goer, who gives up by Feb, our best intention-ed resolutions fall away into the road side ditch.
Here’s some well meaning resolutions versus reality for most triathletes.
- Resolution: This year I will do less racing!
- Reality: I’ll cut out that hot/hilly/expensive race that I didn’t PR. The other ten races were enough.
- Resolution: I am going to do more swim training! (If I had a nickel for everytime…)
- Reality: I was getting to the pool way more, until I realized, swimming is only 18% of my race. I can only save like a minute with all of this extra training. I’ll just run more instead.
- Resolution: I’m going to train less, and spend more time with the family!
- Reality: I just saw my training partner’s plan and I need to increase my training 20% to keep up. I can’t let him/her get faster than me.
- Resolution: I’m going to clean up my diet!
- Reality: I’ll only have 6 pancakes after my long run, instead of the IHOP endless stack. (Yumm Pancakes!)
- Resolution: I’m not going to drink, I’m going on the wagon!
- Reality: You cross the line at a 5k/10k/HM/Marathon, and the first thing you ask, “Where’s the beer tent?
- Resolution: I’m going to do more strength and core work!
- Reality: I don’t want to bulk up, and go over my ideal racing weight.
- Resolution: I going to stay injury free!
- Reality: It only hurts when I run fast.
- Resolution: I’m going to hire a coach!
- Reality: Do you see how much they charge? I’ll get new race wheels instead, that’ll make me faster.
- Resolution: I’m going to volunteer for a race!
- Reality: If I have to get up that early, I’m going to race * Consider keeping this resolution as races always need volunteers, and you will have a great time.
I know these are just generalizations, and none of these will apply to you.
What are your triathlete resolutions, and how do you plan to keep them?
photo credit: michelle@TNS via photopin cc