Training with a Group
Being an amateur triathlete for a couple of years now, there are a couple of important things I have learnt along the way. Don’t take in too much fluid within 15 minutes of T2, carry a cellphone on training rides, and always show your appreciation for the volunteers during a race. One lesson I have found more important than any other, is the benefit of training with a group.
I am a lone wolf by habit; I think most triathletes are, so when I began training for my first triathlon in January 2011 I didn’t hesitate due to the lack of training partners. Hey, I want to work out when I want and how I want to. Is that immature?
For my first season, I swam, biked, and ran by myself. It made it real easy to complete my planned intervals as per my training plan, and if I had family obligations I could delay my training until I was free.
After reviewing my second race, I noticed a glaring issue, my run speed was slow. Too slow to be exact. So I signed up for a run class. I was the only one who signed up, and the instructor was nice enough to continue with the class despite only me showing up. This was my first taste of training with a partner, and I liked it.
Half way through my second training season, in order to fit my increased training time into my day, I would swim at 0600; the same time as the Triathlon Swim Club at my local YMCA. I would listen in on the workout and tips the instructor had for his students. After a couple of weeks, I began chatting with the instructor after my workout came to an end and he would offer tips on efficiency, form, and flip turns. I took his advice, and within a couple of weeks I had increased my speed by 0:10/100m; the first time I had broken 1:40/100m.
It took a couple of weeks of peer pressure, mostly from the instructor, for me to join the Triathlon Swim Club on a full time basis. I did, and I have enjoyed it ever since. Here are my tops reasons for joining a club, class, or just arranging a training group.
Competitive Atmosphere – No time trials needed, but the ability to practice with a group who has a competitive spirit will help you go faster. The group will keep you pushing when normally you would have said ‘enough for today’. This can be most beneficial when training with intervals, steady state, or tempo paces. Just make sure to seed yourself accordingly to your ability as nothing is more depressing than not being able to keep up.
Train with an Expert – Swimming, biking and running is not rocket science, most of us have done them since we were kids. Put all three together and try to go fast is a completely different story. By joining a group, the instructor will be able to give tips on how to be more efficient in each disipline. This is especially true in swimming. I have found that by focusing on form and efficiency during training, you can focus on sighting, pacing, and staying clam during the race.
Exchange Knowledge – There are plenty of resources out there that can help you out. Magazines, online articles, and blogs are just a couple I have used. When it comes down to it, having the chance to chat with a competitor who has raced on the course you are about to race on, or has expereinced the same issues you have had, their advice can be priceless. Some of my best tips have come from casual conversations with other triathletes. Now I have the experience to offer some of my tips to others.
Meet Other Like-Minded Athletes – Discussions surrounding nutrition, hydration gear, or your last workout can really drag down suppertime conversation; it does at my house. Most other athletes will jump at the chance to chat about their recent training experiences and won’t leave out any details. I have been late for a meeting after losing my track of time during a thrilling conversation surrounding the release of the Cervelo P5. Only Triathletes will understand why.
So get out of your comfort zone, sign up for a Masters Swim, Tri Club, Riding Group, or Running collective and enjoy it.
Question: Anyone else seen the benefits of training with a group?