Hi Meg! So I have plenty of questions about triathlons for you! I wasn't sure if you would be receptive of me bugging you so I didn't email sooner but your comment has opened the floodgates so I hope you're ready? Ha! Ok, here they are:
I stick with either Cytomax drops or Honey Stinger chews if I'm going for something processed because I know they don't upset my stomach. I spent all my long training sessions a couple of summers ago experimenting with different chews and gels to see which would upset my stomach and which were okay. If you're looking for something packaged I'd say experiment and see what works for you! If you're looking for something less processed I find dried fruit can actually be a little easier to handle because it's not as chewy and sticky and all that when you're on the run or the bike. I like dried apricots, dates if I'm on a really long run, and prunes. I know it sounds a little off, but they work for me. You just really need to experiment and see what your body can handle.
2. How long have you been doing triathlons?
I did my first triathlon in 2010 after building up to my first marathon in 2009. Last summer I did 12 (?) triathlons, and this summer I'll do 8 leading up to the Ironman. 12 is a lot - you race pretty much every weekend and you get TIRED. I wouldn't recommend doing that.
3. What does your training schedule look like on an average week? I run an average of only 15mi/week, 35mi/week bike (at least 1 trainer night on top of that) and master swim once/week and 2 more swims on my own or with a group. Sometimes I do 2 workouts in one day and there are some Sundays where I'll do all 3 sports in a sprint Tri set up on my own (pool of course).. Dave thinks I do too much? My longest Tri this summer will be the Olympic distance so I don't think I'm doing too much?
My average training week is insane because of the Ironman, but I still have a day off. For an Olympic you shouldn't need to train more than once a day with a long run and a long ride on the weekends and either Friday or Monday as an off day (though you could probably still sneak in some EASY yoga - no hot yoga, no power fusion, no sculpt - just easy stretchy yoga!) I'd avoid stacking workouts back to back and only brick my bike into a short (20 minute or so) run once or twice a month for an olympic. The brick is more about getting your legs used to switching from bike to run so they don't feel like lead for as long. I can shoot you the brick workout I have to do if you want... I'd agree with Dave (though you don't have to tell him that!) and back it off a little. Training is important, but rest and recovery are just as important, if not more so!
4. How long do you take off for rest periods? I've heard it's good to take a whole week off every month but I can only go a few days before I go crazy!
My training plan has one rest day a week built in where I'm not supposed to do anything. My coach has agreed to let me go to yoga on that day (see the yoga note above) but that's it. No making up missed workouts, no sneaking in an "easy 5k", no workouts. period. I'm also on a 4 week training cycle where I work out hard for three weeks, and on the 4th week I back my training off and all workouts are recommended, but not required. Not only does it give my body a bit of a break, but it also gives me a mental break from knowing I need to get two intense workouts in a day. I generally still do the workouts in recovery week, but if I feel like I need a break and skip them I don't let myself feel guilty about it.
5. Do you ever just feel like crap and skip a training day and just lay on the couch and eat sh*tty food?
YES. There are days I'm sick of training, or really want to eat like crap or don't feel like getting out of bed in the morning. And that's okay! Recovery weeks help keep it to a minimum during the rest of training, but it still happens regardless. My tactic for dealing with it is to either agree to start the workout and if I'm still not feeling it a set way through I can stop, head to the gym and do something similar - like a spin class if I'm supposed to be out on the bike, and if neither of those things work I remind myself that while all training sessions are important and build strength, sometimes I need to take a little break, and missing one workout doesn't mean I won't finish.
6. Do you ever feel like your workout just sucked and that you're possibly getting worse or slower at running/bike/swim?
Oh yes - I've had several of those workouts lately. I remind myself that it takes two weeks for a good workout to have an impact, and that any workout still helps build fitness or speed. And then I think about why it might have sucked - have I been pushing too hard lately and did I cross the overtraining line? Did I not drink enough water today or eat the way I should be? Am I having a bit of an allergic reaction? Is there something else in life going on that's bothering me? SOOOO many different things can impact training that bad workouts happen - don't worry too much about it unless it happens a few times in a row.
7. Do you throw in weight training? Speed workouts?
I do strength exercises twice a week in addition to the swim/bike/run workouts to strengthen alternate muscle groups and make myself some sweet looking muscles. I'd stick with two or three weight sessions a week, and not heavy - lighter weight with more reps - otherwise you're just counteracting your sport specific workouts. I do one run speed workout, and one bike speed workout a week to work those fast twitch muscles and you shouldn't need to do much more than that. I only swim twice a week since it's my strength so one session is for distance and the other is for speed.
8. Do you have any transition tips that you think make a difference in your time?
Transition tips - in no particular order: Practice, practice, practice! Put baby powder in your bike shoes to help dry your feet out after the swim. Roll your socks - they go on faster that way. Get a race belt that clips on easily so you don't have to deal with safety pins. Sunscreen AFTER body marking, and use the spray stuff so your number doesn't smear. DON'T use cooking spray on your wetsuit, no matter what people tell you - it will damage the neoprene and that's no bueno... find TriSlide and use that. Be sure to body glide your neck, ankles under your wetsuit, and wrists if you go full sleeves - it makes taking your wetsuit off WAY easier. Timing chip UNDER your wetsuit so you don't lose it and it doesn't cause as much drag on the swim or get tangled in wetsuit removal. There is NO shame in sitting down to get the rest of your wetsuit off, especially since it tends to be faster than hopping around and falling over. Walk each of the transitions you'll have to do before the race so you know where you're going. Wear a hat on the run even if you don't think you'll need it - they're great to fill with ice on a hot day, not to mention the sun protection. Crinkle your bib before you put it on/on your race belt - it won't flop around in the wind on the bike or run as much. Try to get a spot on the end of the transition rack - it'll be easier to find your bike and you'll only be fighting one person for space. Lay everything you might need out in your transition zone - it's easier than digging through your bag when you're on the clock. Put a towel or something down on the ground in your zone to mark your territory and give you somewhere to stand when you're changing footwear. Ummmm... that's all I've got right now, but if I come up with some others I'll let you know!
9. Have you ever had an injury that you've had to take time off from?
I ended last season with a stress fracture in my foot - not the best way to go out, but at least it was the end of the season and I could take some time off from running. Other than that I've been pretty lucky, though I do experience the usual aches, pains, and injuries that come with training - bruises and scrapes from crashing my bike, chafing (body glide and D's Nutz are both awesome to help prevent and alleviate it...), muscle tightness and soreness, tiredness, and irritability. These all come and go, I just really focus on trying to deal with things before they're an issue. I get a 90 minute sports massage once a month, see an athletic trainer/PT/chiropractor once a month, gently stretch after running and (mostly) eat really clean. Ice is also my best friend for anything that feels a bit "off" after a workout. Listen to your body, and just take really good care of yourself. One trick to tell if you're doing too much? Take your resting heart rate, and consistently check your heart rate when you wake up in the morning before you get out of bed. If it's higher than normal you're overtraining and you should probably back it off a little. Overtraining easily leads to injury.
Ummm....I think that's it for now! Thanks for letting me interview you! Any other tips you have I would love to hear. Next year I'd like to do a half iron man and a full the next year. I started running a year ago and swimming last August and just cycling classes through the winter. I just bought my bike and Dave is getting me used to clipping in and has been riding with me, super nube right here!
Anyway, have a great night!
If you have any questions, or need clarification on anything don't hesitate to ask! Most importantly - HAVE FUN - triathlon is a great sport, and a really welcoming, inclusive community.
And there you have it - my thoughts on Kristi's top 10 triathlon questions. What questions do you have? Any tips or tricks I forgot that you'd like to share? Any other thoughts on rest, recovery or training? I'd love to hear them!