Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I Learned from My First Tri Season

Even though my first triathlon season ended with a DNS at the Philadelphia Triathlon, I still I learned a lot from experimenting with multisport training and racing my first sprint tri in Annapolis.

I did it!!

The most important thing I learned is that I will always love running more than anything else. I am a runner at heart. I'd prefer a road race over a triathlon any day of the week, but there was something a little bit fun and definitely challenging in training for a multisport event.

And all the cross-training just might make me a better runner.

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This winter and spring, I felt like I was in some of the best shape of my life because I was mixing things up with my training so much. I know with running there are plenty of times I get lazy about cross-training and just opt to run instead, which leads to muscle imbalance and a very one dimensional kind of fitness.

But with tri training, I was pushing myself on the bike and in the pool and using muscles that I don't normally use in my run training.

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Not only was it a great way to mix things up mentally to prevent burnout, but it was awesome physically. All of a sudden, I had these new shoulder and back muscles springing up from swimming and I could feel new muscles in my legs forming that would help prevent running injuries.

And all the cross-training I was doing, was paying off hugely for me in my running. This spring, I set some huge new PRs.

I finally broke two hours in the half marathon, a goal I have been chasing for years.

Finally broke two hours in a half!
Wore that medal all day

And then a few weeks later, I shaved an entire minute off my 5K PR.

Running just felt easier.

No matter how much running I would do, I don't think I would have seen such great successes in my racing this spring without all the cross-training I was doing.

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Of course, now that tri season is over for me, I've totally fallen off the cross-training band wagon. I haven't ridden my bike in at least a month and I haven't been in the pool in just about that long.

But with training ramping up soon for MCM, I'm making it a goal to work cross-training back into my plan. I saw first hand just how much cross-training improves my running, and I want to kick butt at MCM this year.

So while I don't see myself ever turning into a full-fledged triathlete, I may still sign up for sprint tris here and there to keep myself motivated to cross train. If I learned nothing else from my first triathlon season, it's that mixing things up drastically improves my running.

And that's reason enough for me to stick with it.

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