Things I swore I would never do when I got into marathon running: a triathlon. At the time, somewhat naively, I just assumed I would never get injured and providing I did my strength and stretching (late and in the yoga studio) I would be fine. How wrong I was 😂. A month after marathon one, feeling like Wonder Woman, I tore my calf. Cue 8 months (that’s right, 8 sodding months) of battling to get back to where I had been pre tear. I had lost all of my speed, endurance and worst of all, confidence. So when I started my training block for Chicago (which I will write about) I thought I was golden. LOLs. 2 weeks in my pelvis swung out of position and yeah, 8 weeks of pain. During this time, I put my positive pants on, got into the pool and went to spin class.
I’m really fortunate that my ‘athletic’ background is varied. I spent most of my teenage years, and earlier as a competitive swimmer. What that meant was I could get some very solid miles in the pool, in fact beyond what is deemed the equivalent of a road marathon in 90 minutes 😱. Much like riding a bike, you don’t forget and each session just became more like the swimmer I was in my teens. I added running back in gradually but as I was rehabbing (again) my miles on foot were restricted so I didn’t reinjure myself. A funny thing happened, I came back quicker than I was prior to injury. I felt stronger and more steady in my feet and odd little pains in my upper body had just vanished. Spinning quickly went, but I was making it through the class, nothing hurting and barely out of breath.
I got through Chicago marathon with a few issues in the day which given how little actual running I did during training, was not a surprise.
What I realised around 19 miles into the race was that under no circumstances was I ‘racing’ marathons in back to back blocks. It was breaking my body, it’s that simple. I resolved there and then to keep my swimming up and to focus on triathlon after London given how much I had enjoyed my swims and I could learn to accept the bike.
When I got back to the UK I started researching possible options to get me started with triathlon. Given Leeds is the home of triathlon, their event was the first I looked at. Sprint seemed about right for my desire to be on a bike, but it didn’t fit with my swimming or running ambitions. The next step up is Olympic distance which is a lot further. I felt like this would be an achievable distance in all 3 disciplines so I got myself signed up. Knowing nothing about triathlon other than it’s 🏊🏼♀️🚴🏻♀️🏃🏻♀️. And I didn’t own a bike 🤷🏻♀️.
I did the next obvious thing. Selected a pair of bike sunglasses to go with my non-existent bike. Then I started bike shopping and if you think selecting a pair of trainers is challenging, do not buy a bike 😂. There are so many choices, race, endurance, carbon fibre, tube, tubeless. The list is literally endless. I settled on a bike I can grow into as I cycle more and seem to have made most of the cyclists I work with, rather jealous (bike envy is a thing 🤷🏻♀️). So far I’ve managed a total of 3 miles on my bike, it’s been a battle from the start but I’m getting there and it’s great to just roll around the park.
Just by chance a week ago, a lady from run club posted that she was unable to attend an intro to triathlon day set up by Pretty Gritty Triathlon. I had seen them training in the park near me but never knew who they were or what they were doing. Luckily I was free and we were able to get the place transferred across ! They were really lovely and went through the principles of nutrition in females (we are NOT small males) and goal setting. Neither of these is specific to tri, but I took some really useful information away, if nothing else it’s how woefully inadequate my protein intake is. It was great to know I was about right with my goal setting and having A, B and C races was something I have from marathon training. We did a strength session, all of the exercises I did anyway so it’s a great confidence boost to know I’m doing the right things. They even got us doing a bit of a BRICK session (where you do 2 disciplines back to back, in our case a spin class followed by a jog along the canal). I will certainly be joining them again for some pool based training in the future, everyone was so supportive and lovely.
Hopefully I’ve explained my reasons for triathlon here, it’s something that I’ve inadvertently been training for and it’s a new challenge which will certainly push me to learn new skills and my comfort zone. there is no triathlon related goal for the year other than take part in 1 Olympic distance and 2 shorter distance events. Taking part in multiple sports in theory should develop an all over strength and fitness and I’m hoping will give my body a much needed break from marathon training and still allow me to push my personal limits. Any tips and tricks I will do my best to share and as always, any advice is welcome!