triathlon and family can mix

Strength Training

Can it make you faster?

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Over the past 2 years my main goal in training has been to increase my run speed. Looking at my race results, my swim and bike were always around the top of my age group. My run unfortunately was not. Being strong on the bike allowed me to get far enough ahead of the racers behind me that they couldn’t catch me on the run. My slow run speed meant, however, that I wasn’t able to catch the racer ahead of me either.

Fast forward to this winter season, I had a very in-depth discussion with the tri-club swim coach about adding strength training as a compliment to my swim training. As he put it, the average swimmer (that’s me) pulls against 4kg of resistance in the water. Over the course of a season, this means that you will lose muscle mass if you do not lift weights in addition to logging lengths. Then why do my arms hurt so much after a good swim session?

So I took his advice and scheduled 2 strength sessions into my already busy training schedule. I always hesitated to lift weights before. I want to lean out, not bulk up right? Wind resistance people.

One of the great things about life is that sometimes, only sometimes, does the right answer fall into your lap. Having adopted a Paleo lifestyle over the past year, I have always come across Crossfit. Never heard of it? Really? I did some research trying to find the best routine for a triathlete. Finding nothing to go on, I decided to build my own routine using the basic movements for all three sports.

Here is the thing, it worked. It really worked.

I noticed a huge change just after Christmas. I headed out on a run one Saturday evening, taking a route I am all too familiar with; dark, cold, and icy, but best to stay where I know. More on that in a future post. I honestly felt like I had rocket ships under my feet. Over a 7.6km run, I averaged 4:36/km with 245m of elevation change. I averaged just over 5:00/km in the last 3 runs over the same route. Not a bad improvement. So I kept lifting, changing up my routine every couple of weeks as my strength and stamina increased. I will dedicate my next post to the specific workouts and routine I used.

I am not going to pretend it was easy. More than once I walked down my stairs at home backwards, groaned everytime I sat at the kitchen table like an old man, and had a hard time working with a keyboard at the office.

Now, I swim 400m repeats at sub 1:30/100m; that used to be my 100m sprint split time.

I believe that there is no replacement for intervals, escpecailly on the bike and run; if you want to run sub 4:30/km, then you have to train at sub 4:30/km. But I am convinced that strength training can (and will) make you faster.

Oh, and my wife is diggin’ the biceps….

Question: Did you lift over the winter? What was your experience?

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