Thursday, September 20, 2012

Things I Didn't Really Expect from 70.3 Training

Tonight I set out for a long run, as I will be out of town this weekend, only to go a couple steps before stopping in my tracks due to sharp, left leg shin splint pain. Are you kidding me?

So, in addition to wondering if my body hates me, it made me think about all the things I didn't expect to come out of training for a half iron distance.

I expected to be tired, to struggle with motivation, and I worried about the time commitment. Those are the things I was preparing to handle.

Things I didn't expect:

1. Saddle sores, chafing and overall extreme saddle discomfort
Sweet mother of god, the amount of discomfort I have experienced this season has been outrageous. I have spent more time, money and effort trying to fix this problem than NASA spent on the Space Program. Trial saddles, different positions, different bike shorts, various creams and's never ending. I seem to have finally found a solution in an ISM saddle, but I'm now paralyzed with indecision as to which one to get. I demo'd the Breakaway, but feel like I need something slightly narrower. The folks at ISM have been super helpful with letting me ask lots of questions (some of the best customer service I've ever gotten - no contact forms here, all just straight email, recommending saddles for me and answering all my questions), and I think I'm going to do another demo, this time with the Podium (did you know has a demo saddle program? I didn't, and it's awesome). Overall, my bike fit and geometry feels good, the saddle is the only outlier.

2. Skin allergies
This may or may not be related to 70.3 training, but I've never had any sort of skin allergy, and I recently broke out with a vengeance. It took several weeks and pack of steroids to clear it up.

3. Runner's Knee
Ok, so that isn't wildly unexpected, but it was still a tremendous pain in the neck and put me down for almost a month.

4. Shin Splints
Given my history, this isn't shocking, but I thought I was past these by now. Isn't triathlon training supposed to make you less prone to injury?

5. Weight gain
Granted, it's only a few pounds. However, my body is reacting differently than it ever has during heavy training. I eat pretty healthy, and monitor what, how much, and when I eat, but I can't seem to shake these few pounds. I somewhat (evidently wrongly) assumed that this would be like marathon training, where I lose weight. I'm sure some of it good be muscle, but this was in the span of a couple weeks, which makes me think that isn't the case.

Positive Changes:

1. Increased bike handling confidence
I don't often ride on my own, and quite frankly, turning at and negotiating intersections really freaks me out, but I've gotten better. This bike fits me well, and I feel confident moving on it.

2. Consistent Strength Training
I've kept up my gym workout throughout this season, and I'm encouraged to continue. It's the first time in years I stuck with it long enough to see results, and actually seeing muscle tone in my arms is great.

3. Increased confidence in tris overall
While I was really nervous about this season's sprint tris, by the time I got to my planned (albeit unfinished) Olympic, I still felt nervous, but had no doubt I could do the distance.

4. Satisfaction at seeing my bike mileage go up
Before this training, I topped out mileage at around 45.

5. Better swim form
This season, I feel like I finally came into my own with swimming, finding a better stroke and better overall form.

So there's my list for now. If this post was longer and whinier than usual, my apologies, but this training season has been different than anything I've ever experienced. I'm wondering how I will feel coming out the other side of the race, if this is a distance I'll want to do again. I don't think I could do this same training plan, at least as intensely.


  1. Great post!! For saddle issues, a demo program is awesome. I suggest buying a quality pair of shorts, well worth the money. And good chamios cream AND post ride cream or powder as well. I like to use Anti Monkey Butt (what a cool name for a product) post rides.

    I gained weight as well this year, very slight, but still, with the amount of hours I put in, I was surprised.

    Race tips from a 70.3 that I learned that maybe might help you at yours.
    - The swim seems longer then in the pool, but my time was overall faster then expected, you will start to get bored because of swimming for 40+ mins
    - Take your time in transition, its a long race, if can get away with forgetting something in t1 in an olympic, forgetting something for 56 is completely different.
    - Bring various nutrition, some solids, some gummi, some liquids, your stomach might not like something at a given mile, so options work great.
    - Even if you dont need water at the water stop, take it anyway and shove it in your back jersey, cold water is so much more refreshing then whats been sitting on your bike for 3-4 hours
    - When coming up to a water spot on the bike, point directly at the person you want the water from, make sure they make eye contact with you, it goes alot smoother that way
    -T2, see the T1 Comment
    - Running after 56 miles is sooooooo completely different then running after 40K, expect very wobbly legs, only last a couple miles.
    - You will hit low spot, you will be out there for 7+ hours, that is a long time, just keep moving forward at all cost
    - Make a Plan B and a Plan C, trust me, if plan A goes haywire, just shift to plan b and not worry about plan a anymore

    Good luck and enjoy your reward for all your hard work

  2. Nice post - I'm doing my first and probably 2nd and 3rd 70.3 next year and I hope I don't run into the things you didn't expect. I've always had good comfort on the bike, so I don't think that'll change *knock on wood*