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5 Things I Learned from Doing the New York City Triathlon

Written on August 6, 2014 at 11:13 am , by

Last year, my colleague Samantha and I participated in the New York City Triathlon relay-style. (You can read about our experience here.) But getting just a little taste of the inspiring event wasn’t enough for me. After that day, I made a promise to myself to do all three legs the following year and immediately marked my calendar to solidify the goal. This past Sunday, I competed in this iconic New York race—swimming in the Hudson river, biking along the Henry Hudson Parkway and running through Central Park—and got so much more out of it than just a super cool medal. Here are my top takeaways from race day:

1. Make Friends.
I have always trained for and competed in triathlons by myself, and quite frankly, it gets lonely. In the past, I’ve been too reserved and nervous to get chummy with other people, but this time I was feeling unusually calm and ended up meeting a bunch of awesome triathletes. Chatting with them kept me feeling relaxed and made my race experience much more enjoyable. So don’t be shy—even though it’s an individual sport, you’re really all in it together.

2. Stay Calm. 
As mentioned above, I was surprisingly chill on race morning. I can only attribute this to a ton of pre-race visualization and feeling properly prepared. I put in all the hard work in the weeks leading up to the big day and if you train right, there’s really nothing to worry about except having fun! The worst thing you can do is spike your heart rate before you jump in the water, so even if there are a few worries in the back of your mind, push them out and repeat positive thoughts to stay relaxed. It actually works and makes a huge difference.

3. The Bike Matters. 
Personally, my strongest leg is on the bike, but even if it’s not yours, it’s still important to care about what wheels you’re on. This year, I rode my Specialized Alias (prices vary, specialized.com). It’s like the Jekyll and Hyde of bikes: two personalities—a road bike for training and a tri bike for racing—all wrapped into one slick, aerodynamic package. The geometry is designed specifically to allow you to swap between road position and triathlon position with ease. This explains it in more detail, but it was the perfect bike for my training. I just popped off the clip-on aerobars for the long group rides I incorporated into my schedule and then snapped them back on for when I was practicing race pace on solo jaunts. On the Alias, I was able to shave five minutes off my previous year’s time despite slick road conditions. True story: I actually saw a girl riding a rent-a-bike from Central Park complete with pannier on the course (!). Needless to say, her struggle was real and I smoked her. So seriously, it’s worth it to invest in a solid set of wheels.

4. Pace Yourself.
I tend to be a zero to 60, all or nothing, give it 100 percent type of person, especially when it comes to working out. And hey, that’s not always a bad thing. But in triathlon, you’ve got to get through three events before you can taste the sweetness of that finish line. The smartest thing I did was start every leg slow and steady. If I had extra gas in the tank, then I kicked it into high gear near the end. With this strategy, I had the smoothest race and strongest finish yet.

5. Remember to Smile! 
I get laser focused during races and unfortunately suffer from “resting b*tchface, so this one is important for me. If you want some cool in-action race photos, you better cheese when you spot a camera lens. Plus, anytime I fake smiled I mean, real smiled at the crowd, they went nuts and their enthusiasm gave me the shot of energy I needed, which in turn made it really fun and led to lots of genuine grins. Yay!

More from FITNESS: 

Your 10-Week Triathlon Training Guide

Must-Have Gear to Ace Your Race

The Perfect Pool Workout

Ace Your Next Race with Tips from Ironman Champs Jessica Jacobs and Linsey Corbin

Written on August 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm , by

Top tips from pro Corbin. (Photo courtesy of linseycorbin.com)

Written by Chloe Metzger, editorial intern

The FITNESS office has come down with a case of race-fever. It seems like every staffer and her brother/mother/significant other has either signed up for one and is in training, or they just kicked major asphalt. Granted, we are a little passionate over here—we recently crossed the happiest 5K and the New York City triathlon off our lists—but with fun races and Ironman events happening every weekend around the globe, how could you not get bitten by the fitness bug?

Of course, being excited about racing doesn’t necessarily make us seasoned experts. So we chatted with two of the most experienced triathlon pros, Jessica Jacobs, three-time Ironman winner, and Linsey Corbin, third-place winner at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and Kamut International spokesperson, and nabbed their top tips to help you train harder, race smarter and reach your ultimate goal. Away we go!

 

When training for the race…

Find a support group. “Having a group of people to train with is great because it promotes both healthy and social aspects,” says Corbin. “On days when you’re not that motivated, you have people who are holding you accountable, while still giving you a fun, social outlet.” (No friends nearby to form a group? Don’t sweat it! You can find a local running club at Running in the USA.)

Set small goals.  “Sometimes your ultimate, long-term goal can be pretty daunting, especially if it’s to run a marathon or complete the Ironman,” says Corbin. “Having lots of small goals that act as stepping stones will help you stay motivated while you reach that major milestone.” For a step-by-step guide to get you started, follow one of our 5K, 10K, or half-marathon training schedules. Want to step it up to three sports? Check out our tri guide.

Have an inspiration. “When I don’t feel like training, I tell myself, ‘I don’t have to do this, I get to do this,’” says Jacobs, a former U.S. Army officer. “I see military veterans who have wounds and scars that prevent them from being able to do what they would otherwise be capable of doing. On my low motivation days, I suck it up and tell myself to do it for those people. They’re the ones inspiring me; it’s my honor to get to do what so many of them have fought for.”

Be consistent. Consistency is key to shaving big time off your triathlon, according to Corbin, who recently ran a half marathon in only 1:20:16. “Rather than be a superhero and try to fit in just one amazing workout of the week, you’re better off having really consistent training every day of the week, regardless of intensity level,” says Corbin. “By setting up that week-to-week foundation, you can build up to consistent month-to-month training. When your training has a purpose, you’ll start to see big fitness gains.”

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Conquering the Half-Marathon: Taya Rabinowitz, A New PR

Written on February 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm , by

Taya blew her old PR out of the water, and you can too! (Photo by Jason Todd)

In our March issue, you’ll find four inspiring half-marathon stories from readers who went from couch to 13.1, from jogger to racer and more. For the remaining Wednesdays in February here on The Fit Stop, we’re sharing more personal stories from women who tested our half-marathon training plan.

Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern

After 10 weeks, Taya Rabinowitz completed FITNESS’ half-marathon intermediate training program, ready to run her third half-marathon. Using motivation from past racing experiences to gear up for an event she could be proud of, Taya laced up and crushed her old PR (personal record) of 1:53 by three minutes, clocking in at a 1:50.20!

Taya filled us in about all of her race-conquering secrets, including her unconventional strength-training workout and how she was able to push through the tough days.

Schedule Stickers

She’s been running since middle school, but Taya’s training was never consistent unless she had something pushing her, like an impending race on the schedule. “I work long hours during the week, so getting in weekday exercise is sometimes tough when I’m not training for anything specifically,” Rabinowitz says. Getting in your daily dose of sweat requires real commitment. At the end of each week, write down when you’re going to work out, and maybe even what you plan on doing. Treat this like you would a business event or presentation—that way, if people try to book something with you during your scheduled sweat session, you can tell them you already have an appointment.

Marathon Motivators

It’s always good to have a role model, and watching the elite runners from the sidelines during the New York Road Runners (NYRR) New York City Half-Marathon sealed the deal for Rabinowitz. “They don’t even look like they’re working that hard, but you can’t get a photo because they go by so fast!” Your idol doesn’t have to be an elite athlete or celebrity (but it doesn’t hurt!) . We often turn to bloggers and others in the healthy living community for a dose of fit-spiration!

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