Triathletes are overcomers! Of the three sports – swimming, biking and running – most triathletes are stronger in two. Bikers and runners, for example, may have poor ankle flexibility and find it difficult to do the straight-footed swimming kick. With one finish line, the clock is a tyrant for triathletes. Training becomes a lifestyle. Many do interval workouts based on the comparative energy required in each sport. Using the rule of thumb that 100 yards of swimming = ¼ mile of running = 1 mile of biking, they build up training blocks to beat the clock. (1)
The big time wasters are the transitions from swimming to biking and from biking to running. Triathletes move from wet to dry, from no shoes to shoes, from horizontal to semi-vertical to vertical, from using one set of muscles to another, to another. Frustration can plague transitions: getting a foot stuck in a wet suit, lacing up shoes quickly, and managing blistered, swollen feet. Their woes compel wise preparation for every ‘next race’. Triathletes are organized! They enter transitions with physical and mental preparedness.
Swim –Balanced Footwork
The triathlete runs into shallow water before she begins to ‘dolphin’ – a shallow dive or leap forward. First, gliding under water, she stands up and leaps further into the water until it is deep enough to swim. She minimizes her freestyle swim kicks to stay balanced and to conserve energy. Toes pointed, of course. Near the end, she ‘changes gear’, increasing her swim kick to get her blood flowing in preparation for moving on land.
On terra firma, she sprints to the bike racks. Carrying her bike upright, she heads to the mount line. Alternatively, her bike is ready with shoes attached by rubber bands to the pedals; she hops on and coasts with her feet on top. As she starts to cruise, she puts her feet into her shoes.
Bike – Rhythmic Footwork
Eyes on the road and not her feet, the triathlete concentrates on her pedaling stroke. Initially, she works at a rhythm to let her heart rate calm down and to get ‘her legs back’. Soon enough, she increases her tempo, pushing straight down on the pedal at the three o’clock position. With several minutes remaining she starts thinking “RUN”. She changes into a slightly bigger gear and pedals standing up. While still on the bike, she stretches her running muscles (hamstrings and calves). She dismounts ‘on the fly’.
T2 is fast but tough.
Run – Paced Footwork
The run begins on legs that feel wobbly and heavy. The athlete’s body must redirect blood to her running muscles. Her brain needs time to override the “pedal in circles” message. She pushes through until she finds her pace. Soon enough, her cadence of 90 rpms on the bike, matches her previous stride rate of 90/min. In various segments of the race, she may pace herself differently. Ideally, it is a continuous build. She focuses on good leg turnover. Her lower limbs feel ‘normal’ again. She sprints for a good distance to the finish line.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)
TRAINING – COMPETITION – PODIUM