Written on September 18, 2014 at 9:00 am , by Molly Ritterbeck
Before competing in triathlons and Ironman races, our expert and Zoot Sports sponsored athlete, Jennifer Vogel was a runner—an ultra endurance runner, to be exact. Having set records in ultra marathon distances of 35 to 100 miles, this pavement pounder knows how to succeed on her own two feet. And to succeed at that level means you’ve got to make some mistakes along the way. Since she points out that many tri-newbies are runners first, we put our heads together to help you avoid some common missteps on the final leg of your race.
Not taking in enough fuel. If you have a half-marathon or marathon background, you might have a good grasp on fueling, but in a triathlon you have to remember that you’ve already pre-exhausted your stores during the first two legs. The best time to figure out the right nutrition plan? During all those training sessions. Try different formulas—gels, chews, liquids—to find out which sit well when you’re on the go. What works on the bike might not work as well on the run, so practice makes perfect. And remember the golden rule: Never try something new on race day.
Skimping on the bricks. Brick workouts are when you practice transitioning from one sport to the next, essentially doing two workouts back-to-back. Translation: your legs usually feel like bricks when you do this. The most common brick is the bike-to-run since it’s the easiest to practice with less gear changes required. If you feel exhausted at the beginning of your second workout, don’t fret—it takes most people about one mile to get their muscles used to the new movement. Runners are used to feeling fresh-legged at the beginning of their races, so practicing bricks will help retrain your muscles and give you a good opportunity to test out your nutrition plan.
Clocking positive splits. One of the keys to triathlon is allocating enough energy to perform well in each sport while still leaving some gas in the tank to finish all three legs. When you finally get past the swim and bike, it’s easy to excitedly speed out of the second transition. But remember to reserve energy for the second half of the run. You want to aim for negative splits on the back end; start opening up your stride in the final miles and finish strong.
Wasting time with laces. It’s not totally necessary to ditch your laces if you’re a beginner triathlete, but it’s worth shaving a few seconds off your transition time for the more experienced competitors. Think about replacing your running shoes with triathlon sneakers, like the Zoot Sports Women’s Ultra Tempo 6.0 . Not only do these feature Quick-Lace, which allows you to lace up with one swift pull, but they also have internally seamless features to help prevent blisters and TriDry technology that keep your feet dry during the run. Love the shoes your in? Try swapping out the laces for Speed Laces ($6, speedlaces.com).
Photo provided by Jennifer Vogel
Written on August 21, 2014 at 9:00 am , by Molly Ritterbeck
Maybe you swam on your college swim team, you’re a runner looking for a bigger challenge or you’re addicted to spin class and want to take your cycling skills to the next level. Whatever your reason for being interested in triathlon, getting into the sport can be a little tricky and sometimes intimidating. Zoot-sponsored athlete Jennifer Vogel and I put our heads together to come up with the best advice for breaking into the sport.
Study up and train hard.
One of the most valuable things I did before my first triathlon was research the sport like crazy. I wanted to know everything I could to be as prepared as possible. Once you’re armed with some basic information, like a starter training plan and transitioning tips, you can use your workouts and experience to figure out the rest. There’s a lot of info out there, so take advantage of reputable sources and then put what you know into action during your workouts.
Don’t overestimate yourself in one sport.
Vogel points out that many tri-newbies are runners first. But just because you can run a sub-2:00 half-marathon doesn’t mean you should skimp on training for those final miles. The same goes for naturally gifted swimmers and bikers. Everyone has their favorite and strongest leg, but you still need to practice pacing yourself through three different sports and mastering the bricks (transitioning from one sport to the next).
Ease into the equipment.
Triathlon is a sport that requires a lot of gear. Gear costs money. But don’t let the initial investment scare you away; instead, start small. Vogel suggests easing in with short sprint races that you can do without expensive items like a wet suit or tri-specific bike. True story: I did my first tri in a sport bikini and borrowed my brother’s old bike! Once you get a better idea of how serious you’ll become and what kind of goals you have, you can invest in better equipment little by little along the way. Not sure of the essentials? Check out our go-to list here.
Join a tri group.
It’s the easiest way to make new friends with a common interest and you’ll have an instant network of triathletes to train with and ask questions. Vogel notes that a group helps keep you accountable and makes it fun, too. I’ve done all my training and races solo and quite honestly, I wish I joined a group early on. Trust me, during those long training days, you’ll be happy to have the company and fellow finishers give you more reasons to celebrate during your post-race party.
Photo by Kevin Steele
Written on August 14, 2013 at 10:48 am , by Samantha Shelton
You know her as a U.S. Olympic softball player, but in the last few years, Jennie Finch has proven to be quite the well-rounded athlete. After hanging up her glove and settling into motherhood, Finch has taken the fitness world by storm, tackling major events like the New York City Marathon. This summer, she did it again and dominated a completely new-to-her sport: the triathlon. After swimming, biking and running in the New York City Triathlon – finishing in 2:51:15 – we caught up with the supermom to find out how she felt on race day, and whether we’ll see her back in the Hudson River any time soon.
You conquered the New York City Marathon in 2011, and now the triathlon. What made you want to do it?
Actually, my coach and a girl who ran the marathon with me are both triathletes and they wanted me to do it. And then Aquaphor wanted to know if I was interested, and it’s a brand that’s been in my house since my [softball] playing days. Now that I’m a mom, I use it on my kiddos. It looked like a fun challenge, so I figured why not?
Did you have any kind of experience in swimming and biking before signing on?
Other than riding my beach cruiser in high school and playing marco polo in the pool, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know how to breathe properly or even freestyle properly in the swim. It was all so new and I was just tapping into a new community. It’s been fun to get in and figure it out.
Which part of the tri was your favorite?
I thought running would be my favorite leg, but running after swimming and biking is a whole different ball game. I’ve grown to love swimming, which I was most nervous about. It’s less stress on your body. Biking just took a long time to get the training miles in, but swimming was never more than an hour, which was refreshing and a nice change-up.
Written on April 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm , by FITNESS Editors
Written by Alyssa Shaffer
Has our 10-week triathlon training guide in our May issue got you itching to sign up for a race? We don’t blame you! Whether it’s near your own backyard or across the country, these beginner-friendly sprint races will transform you into a true triathlete.
If you want…
An urban experience
• TriRock Philadelphia: Swim, bike and run in the City of Brotherly Love, starting with a dip in the Schuylkill River and finishing with a ride and run through scenic Fairmount Park. There’s also an Olympic-distance race the next day. (June 22, trirock.competitor.com/philadelphia)
• Life Time Tri Chicago: One of the largest tris in the world begins with a swim in Lake Michigan then follows Lake Shore Drive past such scenic landmarks as Buckingham Fountain and the Shedd Aquarium. There’s also a super sprint distance and an Olympic course if you want to go shorter or longer. (August 25, chicagotriathlon.com)
• Mini-Mussel Sprint Triathlon: Spend the weekend in upstate New York’s popular Finger Lakes region. The 10th annual race includes a swim in a canal, a bike ride along vineyard-dotted roads, and a fast, flat run through a lakefront park. For hearty types, there’s also a half Ironman the next day. (July 13, musselmantri.com)
• Coeur d’Alene Triathlon: The new Scenic Sprint in Idaho lives up to its name as one of the most picturesque courses in the Pacific Northwest, with a placid lake swim, a winding bike course and a triumphant finish inside Coeur d’Alene City Park. (August 10, cdatriathlon.com)
• Nautica Malibu Triathlon: Race alongside celebs (last year’s finishers included Claire Holt, Jillian Michaels and Alison Sweeney) on a course that’s a little longer than your usual sprint—a half-mile ocean swim, an 18-mile bike ride and a four-mile run—with amazing views of both the mountains and the Pacific along the way. (September 8, nauticamalibutri.com)
To celebrate girl power
• Athleta Iron Girl: With a shorter-than-usual swim leg (in some cases, just one-third of a mile) and lots of festivities before, during and after, this series of women-only sprint tris are for newbies of all abilities. Eighteen races take place nationwide, from April through September. (Dates vary; irongirl.com)
More from FITNESS: Sign Up for a Triathlon in Your Area
Written on July 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm , by Marianne Magno
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Happy Friday the 13th! Here’s why your superstitions could be good for you.– Greatist
- Run for it: Sprinting tips to go at lightning speed. – FitSugar
- Training for a triathlon? Why your mind is your strongest tool. — CNN
- Don’t be fooled! These 5 “healthy” foods aren’t always good for you. -- LHJ.com
- The funny ladies at The Cut imagine what it would be like to go on an office-wide cleanse. We think it’d be a similar situation here at FITNESS. No, thanks. – NYMag