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17 Triathlon Terms Every Triathlete Needs to Know

New to the sport or a seasoned triathlete with many races under your belt, here are 17 triathlon terms every triathlete should know

From training terms to lingo you’ll hear out at the race site, the world of triathlon truly does have a language of its own. In honor of this year marking the 17th time we celebrate triathletes of all skill levels coming together at The Rookie Tri, here are 17 triathlon terms every triathlete needs to know that will have you graduating from a novice triathlete to a pro in no time.

  1. Aid Stations – Strategically located stations to help you replenish during the race. They usually have water, hydration drinks, and depending on the distance, can also have gels or chews. See where the run course aid station is located at The Rookie Tri.

    Athlete getting body marked on race morning of Rookie Tri

    Rookie Tri athlete getting body marked on race morning.

  2. Body Marking – In a race, you will be required to wear your race number on your body, the upper arm, and the back of the lower leg. Before a race, there will be designated “Body Markers,” volunteers who write your race number on your body with either a permanent marker or applying a temporary tattoo peel-off number.
  3. Brick – back-to-back workouts of the tri disciplines. Traditionally, a bike and run, smushed together like on race day. But it can really be any combination of two of the disciplines.
  4. Cadence – Also, known as RPM, or revolutions per minute, cadence means the rhythm of your swim stroke, bike pedal stroke, or run turnover as your feet hit the ground. Measured in “revolutions” per minute.
  5. Derailleur – A system on a mountain bike, road bike or triathlon bike made of up sprockets and a chain with a method to move the chain from one to the other to cause the shifting of gears.
  6. DNF – Acronym for “Did Not Finish” (the race).

    Perfecting the dolphin dive into Decker Lake

    Perfecting the dolphin dive into Decker Lake.

  7. Dolphin Dive – a way to enter the water in a swim start where the water is shallow in order to start swimming right away.
  8. Fartlek – The definition of the Swedish word Fartlek is ‘speed play’ in English. Involves training at different paces and speeds within one training session and can be applied to all three triathlon disciplines; swimming, cycling and running.
  9. Ladder – an interval workout with progressively increasing then decreasing distances at each interval. For example, run fast for 400m, jog for 200m, run for 800m, jog for 200m, run for 1200m, jog for 200m, run for 800m, jog for 200m, run for 400m, jog for 200m. (BeginnerTriathlete.com)
  10. Open Water Swim (OWS) – swimming in a natural body of water (lake, river, ocean, bay)
  11. Podium – the first 3 competitors in each age group. I “podium’d”. Boom!
  12. PR – Acronym for “personal record.”
  13. Race Number Belt – A belt where you can attach your race number. This is helpful for putting on your number after the swim. You clip the belt around your waist with your number to the back (on the bike), and then when you run, you rotate your number to the front.

    Professional timing gives you accurate results as soon as you cross the finish line.

    Professional timing gives you accurate results as soon as you cross the finish line!

  14. Taper – The period of time before a race where you slow down the frequency and intensity of the workouts in order to give your body time to recover and rest before the event.
  15. Timing Chip – Usually handed out in race packets and is to be worn around your ankle during your tri. When you pass over certain points during a race, the timing chip registers your time for the official race results.
  16. Transition – Two time periods within a triathlon. T1 is the period of time between the swim and bike; T2 is the period of time between the bike and the run. Transition is also the physical area in the race where you will transition from one sport to another.
  17. Wetsuit “Legal” – a triathlon where the water is cold enough to wear a wetsuit, as often set forth in the USAT rules.

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of some of the most common, essential triathlon terms used by athletes. Try them out during your Rooke Tri training and you’ll be ready to chat with the pros!

Why You Need To Be Training for Transitions

Make worrying about transitions a thing of the past when you use these time-saving tips for triathlon transitions

A quick and easy transition is an important skill to save time during your triathlon. However, it is often overlooked during the training process. These transition techniques should be practiced during your training leading up to your upcoming tri to save time and reduce any stress you may be feeling about tackling transition on the morning of your race.

Know Your Way Around

Having an idea of the layout of the transition area of your tri beforehand is especially crucial on race day. Reviewing the course maps will eliminate any uncertainties you have and should be done in the days leading up to your race. Take it a step further and arrive at the race site early to do a pre-race walkthrough in transition.  Get familiar with the flow of transition during your walkthrough.  Make a point to identify where you will swim in, bike out, bike in and run out.

Athlete getting her gear set up in transitions before the racePlan Your Gear

Know what gear you will be using first will help you determine how to layout your gear when you arrive at the race site. If your goal is to improve your overall race time, you will need to be organized in your transition layout. Another common mistake we see athletes make is bringing too much stuff. Only bring what you need to avoid losing any items, or having items in the way to slow you down. Layout your items in the order you use them to save time when you arrive in transition during the race.

Practice

Practicing your transitions is the best way to be prepared come race day. Set up a practice transition area wherever you find an open space like in your driveway, or an empty track. This will give you the opportunity to time yourself and see how long the swim to bike transition will take, as well as the bike to run. Determine which time-saving techniques you’ll use such as deciding to have your shoes already clipped into your bike, or where to place your helmet for easy access. Practice putting on and removing shoes, and mounting your bike while keeping your rhythm. Layout your gear to get in and out of transition in the least amount of time possible.

Only Bring the Essentials

Getting into gear in the transition area

Only bring what you need to avoid losing any items, or having items in the way to slow you down. Along with completing a gear check to make sure you have all the items you need, take some time to make sure your gear is functioning properly. The idea is to have everything ready to go when you run into transition during your tri.

The best way to get good at anything is practice, practice, PRACTICE! Training for transitions ultimately determines how well you can tackle them on the day of your race. Use these tips for your upcoming tri to improve your race time, or maybe even PR!

‘Tis The Season For New Running Shoes

Out with the old, in with the new. Separating with your trusty pair of running shoes can be traumatic. You have covered lots of ground together and they have always been there for you. Sadly there is a time when you will need to retire them and bring in the new guy. Below are some tips on when you know it is time to retire, and how to break in your new shoes for many more miles of running bliss.

How to Test Your Old Running Shoes

Count Your Miles

Typical running shoes have a lifespan of around 300-500 miles, while some lightweight shoes have as little as 250-300 miles.

Keep track of when you start putting miles on a pair of shoes so you can be on the lookout for changes in foot strike and any pains that may be associated with worn-out shoes.

Visual Checks

When shoes are wearing out sometimes, the insoles will become loose. This can cause rubbing and blisters and is also a sign that your foot is slipping around inside the shoe.

The tread on the bottom. Look at the bottom of your shoe for a wear pattern. See spots that are wearing down? While this is not a for sure sign to replace it is a good gauge of life left in the shoe. Obviously, if there is a hole in the bottom – it is time to replace.

The top. A hole here or there is fine but if your big toe is sticking out feeling the breeze, consider that pair a goner.

Tired Legs

This one can be hard, because whose legs are not tired after a long run? But having your legs feel more tired than usual maybe more on your shoes than on you. Take this as a sign to buy new running shoes and start breaking them in so that you do not find your self with time in between.

Breaking In New ShoesCheck your running shoes to make sure your pair is still in good shape

Give Them Time

Plan some time to break in your new shoes. They are not going to be ready to go out of the box.

Date Them

In a place where it will not rub off, write with a permanent marker the date you start running in your shoes.

Wear Thick Socks

Wearing an extra pair or thicker socks can help break in the shoe from being stiff.

Short and Sweet

Keep your first runs under 6 miles. Remember, if you feel any discomfort shut down the run. It’s not worth risking a long-term injury by running in shoes that are not ready.

Have a Race Day Pair Ready

Buy a new pair of shoes 3 or 4 long runs out from race day. Break them in and then box them up. You will rest easy knowing that you have a pair of shoes that will be run-ready on race day of Rookie Tri!

Don’t let old running shoes be the cause of your pain during your tri training, use this guide next time you give your running shoes a check-up to know when it’s time for a new pair! It’s possible that the shoes you’re wearing are not the source of the pain you’re experiencing. It may be that you could need some European orthotic shoes, boots and other footwear to support and protect your feet by distributing pressures evenly over your feet, providing additional cushioning and accommodating your unique foot shape. It’s something to think about next to you take your shoes off and experience pain.

Celebs You Didn’t Know Are Triathletes

Ever wondered which of your favorite celebs share the love of triathlon with you??

The world of triathlon knows no bounds. With an estimate of 4 million people participating every year, the sport is constantly growing and adding new athletes to the mix! We see every type of person enter triathlons, but have you ever thought about which of your favorite stars are triathletes too? See if your favorite star made the list with these celebs that TRI!

 

1. Shawn Colvin

Shawn Colvin, Triathlete

Image: Getty Images

Shawn Colvin is a Grammy award-winning artist that was bitten by the tri-bug back in 2001. “It’s true, once you do one of them you want to do more!” She regularly participates in triathlons all over the country and was even at the 2019 Kerrville Triathlon Festival where she sang the national anthem to kick-off Saturday and Sunday of race weekend! Colvin holds a special place in our hearts because she’s one of our very own and completed Rookie Tri in 2006!

 

 

James Marsden

Image: Noel Vasquez

2. James Marsden

James Marden, known for his role in The Loft, is an actor, singer, and a regular participant of triathlons all over the States. He is constantly keeping up with his training and participates in various triathlons every year to maintain his muscular physique. Marsden says triathlons are a great way to stay in shape year-round so he is camera-ready at all times.  He even missed the 2017 Emmy awards because it conflicted with one of his triathlons!

 

3. Jennie Finch

Image: Matt Peyton

Jennie Finch is one of the best softball players the sport has ever seen. After retiring from her 11-year career earning her 2 Olympic medals, she hung up her cleats and traded them in for running shoes. She began by entering marathons before she participated in the 2013 New York City Triathlon as a way to get back in shape after her third child was born. She crossed the finish line of the Olympic-distance (we see what she did there) with an impressive time of 2:51:15!

 

 

Triathlete Gordon Ramsay

Image: Clara Molden

4. Gordon Ramsay

Hell’s Kitchen’s overlord, Gordon Ramsay, took his skills out of the kitchen to participate in the 2013 Hawaii Ironman. Since then, Ramsay, 52,  has competed in several marathons, half ironmans, and other races throughout his journey. The competitive environment of the events is what keeps him coming back year after year. He trains throughout the year to keep up with his physical condition alongside his wife, Tana.

 

Jennifer Lopez Triathlete

Image: Jean Lacroix

 

5. Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez was inspired to begin her journey as a triathlete for a good cause. She participated in her first-ever triathlon at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in 2008 to raise money for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. New to the sport, she had to spend most of her time training for the swim portion. On race morning, her training certainly paid off with her finishing time being 2 hours, 23 minutes and 28 seconds!

 

Matthew McConaughey

Image: Gregg Deguire

6. Matthew McConaughey

Austin local, Matthew McConaughey, is no stranger to the sport, having completed several triathlons since his journey began. McConaughey started his journey in 2008 by completing an Olympic-distance tri. He showed off his athleticism by earning a time of 1:43:48. How would you like that for your first ever triathlon time? Although he’s completed several triathlons since then, he has yet to complete Rookie Tri! Maybe we should ask him!

 

7. Claire Holt

Claire Holt Triathlete

Image: Chris Polk

Best known for her role in the TV series The Vampire Diaries, Claire Holt was instantly hooked on triathlons. Like the other star triathletes, Claire Holt is a regular participant of the celebrity division at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. Once she discovered her love for the sport, she found herself returning every year with the goal of improving her performance! She achieved her goal at the 2012 event by taking home first place with a time of one hour and 44 minutes.

 

Image: Noel Vasquez

8. Joel McHale

Joel McHale is the newest celeb to become a triathlete. He was especially impressed with his defeat of fellow triathlete and star, James Marsden, during the run portion of the race. He plans on returning to race triathlon again next year and plans on recruiting other celebs to join him!

 

9. Megyn Price

Megyn Price

Image: Chelsea Lauran

Rules of Engagement star, Megyn Price, started her triathlon career because she wanted to have a goal that would test her physical strength.  She finds it important for females to have goals that are based on something more than how you look. Her efforts paid off when she took home first place at a 2010 triathlon with a time of 2:10:23, just 3 years after her first tri! Way to go!

 

 

Brendan Hansen Triathlete

Image: Jamie Squire

10. Brendan Hansen

Brendan Hansen is best known for his professional swimming career. During all the chaos of winning 6 Olympic medals, breaking world records left and right, and starting a family, Hansen managed to find time to become a triathlete! Hansen competed alongside our Rookie Triathletes in 2010 and continues to participate in triathlons in and around Austin, Texas. When asked about his triathlon journey, Hansen told The Orange County Register, “Triathletes are great. They’ve got a screw loose, the way they train. But at the finish line, there is a beer tent. How great is that?” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

These folks may be superstars, but at the end of the day, their triathlon journey started just like everybody elses. With a Sprint Distance Tri and online training plans. If these stars can fit training into their schedules around all the craziness, you can too!

 

2020 Rookie Triathlon Opens Registration

Planning begins as 2020 Rookie Triathlon opens registration

Triathlete crosses the 2019 Rookie Triathlon finish line. Registration for 2020 Rookie Triathlon opens on September 27, 2019.

Rookie Kay Lynn crosses the 2019 Rookie Tri finish line! Credit – Tom Marek

2020 Rookie Triathlon opens registration at the Kerrville Triathlon expo. The 17th annual Rookie Triathlon will take place on Sunday, May 3rd, at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in northeast Austin. In May 2019, more than 1000 participants completed the first triathlon of their life or the first triathlon of their season. 2020 Rookie Triathlon’s best pricing is available until Tuesday, Oct. 22nd.

“For the last 16 years, thousands of athletes have become triathletes by crossing their first finish line at Rookie Tri,” said Stacy Keese, co-owner of High Five Events. “We know Year 17 will be the same, people making Rookie Tri the first tri of their life or the first tri of their season.”

For 16 years, thousands have made this beloved event their first triathlon

2020 Rookie Triathlon has three different divisions: Rookie (first or second triathlon ever), Veteran (completed more than two triathlons), and Open. Rookies and Veterans start the swim in their division based on their age group. Two participants enter the water every few seconds. The Open Division allows participants to begin regardless of age, with a mass swim start. Rookie Tri also features Athena and Clydesdale categories. Triathletes who can’t make it to the event can still participate through the virtual Rookie Tri. Participants can complete the virtual 2020 Rookie Triathlon on their own time at their preferred locations.

Participants will receive custom 2020 participant shirts, finisher medals, water bottles, and swim caps. After the race, everyone can enjoy the beer garden (21+), a post-race meal, and the signature swag toss. Professional timing and photography, as well as a great volunteer crew and hundreds of supportive spectators, will make this triathlon memorable for rookies and veterans alike. 

Rookie Tri, an award-winning triathlon, consists of a 300m swim in Decker Lake, an 11.2-mile bike ride in a protected lane around the lake, and a two-mile run through Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. Rookie Tri has aquabike and relay options for race day. The relay team can consist of two or three members and the aquabike completes the swim and the bike only. 

Tips to Make Sure You Have The Correct Fit for Your Helmet

For a bike helmet to protect you correctly, you need to purchase one that fits you properly. Keep reading for tips to make sure you have the correct fit for your helmet. 

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your helmet, you need to find one that fits you best in all the following ways. Use these tips on how to make sure you have the right fit for your bike helmet. 

Size

tips to get the perfect fit for your bike helmet

A great example of how a helmet should sit on your head with the proper fit!

The first thing you should adjust when choosing a helmet is the fit pads or adjuster ring. The helmet needs to be snug around your head to effectively protect you. It should not be too tight where you feel pressure, and not too loose that there is any wiggle room. If needed, add more fit pads to get a secure fit. If your helmet has an adjuster ring, modify the circumference until the helmet is fitted properly for your head. 

Height

The next thing to determine is how high the helmet should sit on your head to protect your head on all sides, in case of a fall. It should sit somewhat low on your head, leaving only one to two finger-widths visible on your forehead. You can also decide if your helmet fits properly by looking up. You should be able to see them rim or front edge of the helmet when you do so without interfering with your vision. Pro tip: you should always wear protective lenses with your helmet, so make sure there is enough room to wear them both comfortably.

Straps

The straps of this bike helmet fit perfectly

A perfect view of how your helmet’s chin straps should fit

To keep the helmet in place, the next step is ensuring the chin straps are long enough to reach under your chin and can be tightened securely. This part is especially important because you do not want to be dealing with an ill-fitting helmet during your next tri. The “Y” shaped strap needs to fit under your ears comfortably and buckle under your chin without being too tight. Your helmet should not be able to move more than an inch in any direction. After you buckle the chin strap, it should be secured in the correct position. 

Remember: bicycle helmets only work if you wear them correctly. If you’re riding alone or going on a group ride, use these tips when shopping around for your next helmet to make sure you are as safe as possible on your future rides.

Rookie Triathlon’s Sweet 16 a Smashing Success

Hundreds introduced to triathlon at Rookie Triathlon’s Sweet 16

On Sunday, May 5th, more than 1000 registrants celebrated Rookie Triathlon‘s Sweet 16 at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park in Austin, Texas. Temperatures were ideal for those competing in their first ever triathlon or the first triathlon of their season despite recent severe storms in Central Texas. Rookies, those who participated in their first or second triathlon, consisted of more than half the field.

“The experience of my first triathlon at Rookie Tri is one I won’t forget,” said Lorie Sturgis, who completed her first triathlon in 2:17:52. “The support from spectators, volunteers, and High Five Events was phenomenal and I can’t wait to complete my next triathlon!”

Professional triathlete Pablo Gomez won his first Rookie Triathlon with the time of 45:28. Second and third place went to Justin Arnosky and Jack Cartwright, who crossed the finish line in 46:10 and 46:18 respectively. For the fourth time since 2015, professional triathlete Natasha Van Der Merwe topped the women’s field with a winning time of 49:38. Second place finisher Clare Dasso (54:49) and third place finisher Michelle Bonathan (57:00) rounded out the women’s field.

“I love being at Rookie Tri because many triathletes begin their season out here,” said Gomez, who has completed Rookie Triathlon seven times. “It’s especially great to win a race where Rookies and Veterans can compete on the same course. As always, thanks to High Five Events!”

The Rookie Tri

The Rookie Tri has three different divisions: Rookie (first or second triathlon), Veteran (completed more than two triathlons), and Open. Rookies and Veterans start the swim in their division based on their age group. Two participants enter the water every few seconds. The Open Division allows participants to begin regardless of age, with a mass swim start. Rookie Tri also featured Athena and Clydesdale categories. The inclusion of the categories, which had 114 total participants, created more energy and competition on race day.

The wetsuit legal 300-meter swim took place in a 70 degree Decker Lake, the 11.2-mile bike course featured rolling hills, and the two-mile run course ran through the park. Participants received custom finisher medals, Sweet 16 shirts and water bottles, swim cap, beer, a post-race meal, and the signature swag toss. Professional timing and photography, as well as a great volunteer crew and hundreds of supportive spectators, made this triathlon memorable for rookies and veterans alike. The Rookie Triathlon participants can see their times here. They can also relive race day by checking out photos from the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Rookie Tri would like to thank all of the volunteers for coming out and making today’s event memorable for all triathletes. Their willingness to get up extra early to cheer on and support every participant truly made a difference in their experience. Rookie Triathlon would also like to thank sponsors City Limit Cycles, RunLab Austin, Oskar Blues Brewery, nuun hydration, Ascension Seton, Camp Gladiator, Fleet Feet Austin, Z’Tejas, FinisherPix, the City of Austin, Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff’s Office, and Travis County EMS.

Rookie Triathlon Puts Final Touches on Sweet 16 Celebration

More than half of the Rookie Triathlon’s Sweet 16 field consists of beginner triathletes

High Five Events is excited to celebrate 16 years of bringing new triathletes or introducing new triathletes to the sport at 2019 The Rookie Triathlon. The event will take place on Sunday, May 5th, at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. More than 1000 participants will complete the first triathlon of their life or the first triathlon of their season. Everyone will celebrate Rookie Tri’s Sweet 16 at the finish line festival. There will be a beer garden, post-race food, and a Sweet 16 cake!

Loren showing off her well-deserved 2018 Rookie Tri finisher medal and water bottle!

“I registered for Rookie Tri, my first ever triathlon, to push myself and see what I can accomplish,” said Brieann Grissom. “ I had brain surgery twice, most recently in January, and want to challenge my mind and body in a way I typically don’t do!”

The Rookie Tri has three different divisions: Rookie (first or second triathlon), Veteran (completed more than two triathlons), and Open. Rookies and Veterans start the swim in their division based on their age group. 1-2 participants will enter the water every few seconds. The Open Division allows participants to begin regardless of age, with a mass swim start. Rookie Tri is also returning the Athena and Clydesdale categories. The inclusion of the two divisions will create more energy and competition on race day.

“It’s exciting to see Rookie Tri’s continued growth because that means more and more people are getting introduced to triathlon,” said Stacy Keese, co-owner of High Five Events. “We love seeing first-timers come back and complete Rookie Tri for the second time, making them a veteran for the next year!”

Sweet 16 perks

Participants will receive custom 2019 shirts, finisher medals and water bottles. They’ll also receive swim caps, beer, a post-race meal, and the signature swag toss. Professional timing and photography, as well as a great volunteer crew and hundreds of supportive spectators, will make this triathlon memorable for rookies and veterans alike. Participants and volunteers can register until Saturday. Packet pickup will take place at Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in Austin.

Rookie Tri, an award-winning triathlon, consists of a 300m swim in Decker Lake, an 11.2-mile bike ride in a protected lane around the lake, and a two-mile run through Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park. Rookie Tri has aquabike and relay options for race day. The relay team can consist of two or three members and the aquabike completes the swim and the bike only. Triathletes who can’t make it to the event can still participate through the virtual Rookie Tri. Participants can complete the Rookie Tri on their own time at their preferred locations.

2019 Athlete Tracking and Live Results

Follow your friends and family with athlete tracking

Support your friends and family at the 16th annual Rookie Triathlon! Show up early, make hilarious signs, and cheer loudly. Then get ready to celebrate at the finish line festival! If you’re at Walter E. Long Metropolitan Park or halfway around the globe, use athlete tracking or receive alerts via social media to know where your friends and family are on course.

Live Online Tracking

Watch the leaderboard live on race day! Share this link with family and friends so that they can see Rookie Tri results no matter where they are on this beautiful earth.

Results on Social Media

You can also sign up to get results sent to your social media. Search for your name and set up messages to be sent to your social media. This will keep all of your followers up to date on your Rookie Tri progress. You can also set up text messaging to your spectators so they know when you have completed each part of the event and can be waiting for you at the finish line.

Final Results

Don’t forget to check out the final results and see if you placed in your division!

Training and Competing in Triathlons After 50

Rookie Tri ambassador talks about training for triathlons after 50

Steve Mallett, a Rookie Triathlon ambassador, began participating in endurance events at the tender age of 52. He talks about the benefits of cross-training and how it has helped him reduce injuries. Steve participated in triathlons 20 years ago, but he has since brought it back into his life. Below is a firsthand account of how he approaches training and competing in triathlons after 50. It’s never too late!

by: Steve Mallett

In January of 2015, at the age of 52, I started marathon training and racing with a well-known Austin running team. I immersed myself into a group of athletes and coaches searching to find the limits of speed and fitness. It was exhilarating and I hung on to my coach’s every word.  After six months I set a lifetime PR for the marathon. My fitness, I thought, was as good as it had ever been. I would later find out that my body could only handle that intensity for so long.

In late 2016, after months of 50-60 mile weeks, 3-4 marathons a year, and pushing myself to faster times, my body started to fail. Later that year, I developed a nagging and painful condition in my lower abdomen, later diagnosed as a pelvic fracture from overuse. I was devastated. The doctor’s recommendation was six months of no running. That’s like telling Rachel Ray to get out of the kitchen. I struggled to come to terms with this new reality.

Bring on the recovery

A few months into recovery I was cleared to start elliptical training. While in the gym I noticed other runners doing strength training and weights. I had never considered adding this to my fitness regimen. Running 60 miles a week was hard enough. How could I add in 3-4 hours of weights and strength training per week?

When I was cleared to run again I was cautious. I wanted to be fast again, but didn’t want another injury. Six months without running had taken its toll on me emotionally. I didn’t want to pull the scab off that wound. I started with some shorter runs and then finished in the gym with 30-45 minutes of whole-body strength and conditioning. As my running form came back, I noticed big changes in my strength and my running times.  

I registered for the Cap10K before my injury and decided to run and get a baseline for my recovery. I ran the fastest Cap10K I have ever run and felt great doing it. My running decreased, but I was getting faster.  The time in the gym and the intensity of my shorter runs was making me a stronger runner. I ran very few “junk” miles.

Time to add cycling

In the following months, I added cycling to my fitness regimen. I was already swimming three days a week as cross training for my running. After a 20-year hiatus, I began signing up for triathlons again. My goal was to compete again. However, I knew my body couldn’t handle the high mileage needed to run a fast marathon. Triathlons would give me my competition fix.  

I read The Time-Crunched Cyclist: Race-Winning Fitness in 6 Hours a Week, by Chris Carmichael and Jim Rutberg. I took many of those principles to heart. You can get faster and stronger by doing more intense, shorter workouts. But you have to compliment that with strength and weights.  

As you train for any race shorter than a Half Ironman, don’t focus on mileage for the sake of mileage. Some of the long, slow rides and runs are like counting your steps when you take out the trash. Yes, you got in some steps, but did they really count?  

Triathlon training

Many sprint triathlons have such a short run that any training run over 6-8 miles is wasted. You are better off doing four weekly runs. Long runs, speed-work/track days, fartleks, and tempo runs and drills can increase your speed.   

In the pool, break your workouts into sets. Try to push yourself. 2000 slow yards with a pull buoy may impress your friends on Strava, but 6×100 at race pace (after a warm-up) will actually make you faster on race day.  

One day a week it’s okay to go for a slow ride and enjoy the scenery. On other days, focus on pushing up your watts or climbing hills near your max heart rate. Those types of workouts will improve your speed and strength.  

To prevent injuries, don’t neglect your strength and weights. There are many places online to find whole body strength/conditioning and weight lifting plans for runners and triathletes. Start slowly and build.

Book recommendation

You should read Unbreakable Runner: Unleash the Power of Strength & Conditioning for a Lifetime of Running Strong, by Brian MacKenzie, the founder of Cross Fit. His program teaches you to be strong first. Then the speed and endurance will follow.  

If you choose a coach, try to find one who understands aging athletes. Trying to keep up with the 30-year-olds is a recipe for disaster. Find a coach that will push you, but not break you. You will have to shift your paradigm to believing that shorter, harder workouts will make you faster. A coach will help when you start to get tired and lazy. You want to avoid going through the workout motions at a lower intensity.  

If you are doing longer races, you will need to spend some time doing long, slow miles. When you hit age 50 the longer races are not so much about speed, but about mentally preparing for hours of racing at an elevated pace.

Too many triathletes fall into the trap of miles for the sake of miles. Your workouts should focus on quality, not how far you can go. As we age we need to be very smart about how we train and treat our bodies. Junk miles don’t lead to fast races, they lead to broken bodies.  

Bio: Steve competed in his first triathlon in 1984 in Key West, Florida. He has done more than 50 triathlons, 12 marathons, eight 50K races, and has finished the Rocky Raccoon 50-mile Trail Run twice. He is a real estate broker who lives in Dripping Springs, Texas.