Have you ever thought about doing a Triathlon, Marathon, or other endurance event but haven’t pulled the trigger on it? For many people, endurance events can seem impossible. If you’ve never been an endurance athlete, a triathlon may an intimidating thing. But for most of you, I bet CrossFit seemed a little intimidating too. Another common reason people do not sign up for a race is theyyou think it takes too many hours to prepare for an endurance race. It is not true. You don’t have to put in a ton of miles each week just to do a Tri or run. I’m here to tell you can do endurance races. They are not difficult.
A few months ago a friend of mine talked another friend into doing the Beach 2 Battleship Half IronMan Triathlon (1.2 mile swim / 56 mile bike / 13 mile run). The second friend, let’s call him Frank, is about to have a birthday. In some odd chain of events friend number one, let’s call him Ilario, suggested Frank do this race as an accomplishment for his upcoming birthday. I hypothesize Ilario actually just wanted company for his misery, but either way, it’s a good story…
When Frank told me of his new endeavor, my reaction was something along the lines of “why the hell would you do that?” and “Ilario has totally screwed you”. I mean, let’s face it, there are plenty of other things you can do to celebrate your birthday and seriously, there is nothing physically healthy about an endurance event of that length. in this post, I won’t go into oxidative stress of aerobic exercise or how it lowers your testosterone, increases cortisol, decreases growth hormone, and increases insulin resistance, but let’sjust say the bad effects outweigh any benefits ten fold… or more.
So after trying to talk Frank out of the race and into something more healthy (like sky-diving without a ‘chute or swimming uncaged with white sharks), I told him I’d help him prepare if he wanted me to.
Many of you don’t know I used to be an endurance freako. In the Army, I never weighed more than 180lbs. It was part of the culture back then to be
a long distance machine. It was before CrossFit, Gym Jones, Military Athlete, and SEAL Fit were ever heard of. Our training was five or six days a week of endurance work. Mostly running and swimming. We lifted weights only if we had time and when we did, it was lower weights and high reps. We did triathlons at least once a month during season and a few of us raced cross country mountain bikes. It wasn’t until the war that we figured out we needed to be stronger and faster like football players, not slow and weak like most endurance types. So I’ve been down that road of “getting in the mileage” and I’ve experienced the bad sides of training for endurance races.
A month or so goes by and I asked Frank how his preparations for the race were going. He said his swim was good and that he’d been doing laps in the pool. He told me his run was ok and he’d done a few 3 and 5 milers. Then he told me he didn’t have a bike, but he had been to a spin class at Gold’s. I almost fell out of my chair! While I liked he was not getting all tri-geek about it his upcoming race and he was not overtraining, he obviously needed to do a little more.
I was good with the running. There is no need to exceed 5 or 6 miles when preparing for a half marathon (13.1 miles). For the amateur who wants to finish with a respectable time, anything more is a beating that leads to injuries and the aforementioned oxidative stress. However, laps in the pool typically do not prepare you for a 1.2 mile open water swim and spinning does little to prepare you for cycling. I told Frank he could use my road bike… at least his crotch would start getting used to the saddle soreness. I was in a maintenance phase in my training, so also agreed to swim with him in the waterway.
In the few weeks since, Frank has put in a little more training. But still only a few hours per week and his longest training event was a 30 mile bike. He also signed up (last minute) for the the Wrightsville Beach Sprint Triathlon and complete it with no problem. We talked through transitions and made sure he has the equipment he needs. Most folks who sign up for these type of events train months on end and over 15 hours per week. Unlike them, Frank isn’t stressed out. He gets up a reasonable hour and is getting plenty of sleep. He hasn’t lost a pound of muscle. In a week he’ll complete his birthday race and he’ll do without having to dedicate his life to it.
I hear so many guys and gals say “I would like to do a triathlon, but…”. Their “but” is typically followed by excuses of not being able to swim well enough not having enough time to train for it. Both are easily remedied. If you cannot swim, hire a coach to teach you. The YMCA has swim programs and there are numerous accomplished swimmers at CrossFit Wilmington. As far as time goes, I can show you how to prepare for any endurance event in about 1/3 of the time (and miles) most coaches recommend. Just ask and I’ll set you up for success.
If you’re still not sure, check this out… Myself and Hoff just started training for the half Ironman next week. Our first real training day for the event was October 1st. Yes, we are dedicating three whole weeks to preparing for a half Ironman. We are doing it so all those who think you need hours and months of training will know it is not the case.
Now, neither of us are claiming we can win, or even do exceptionally well. Like my friend Frank, we are simply going to do most peoples’ goal of completing it in a respectable time. I want people to know these events are not that difficult and anyone (certainly anyone training at CrossFit Wilmington) can do one if they choose.
It should be fun.
Oh yeah… I feel I should apologize in advance for talking Hoff into this one. I’m hoping that after, or even during, this race she doesn’t want to kill me for signing her up. But then again, maybe it is what she gets for dragging me up those damn mountains.