As I was driving today with the radio off, I had some quiet time to think about my first triathlon attempt a few months ago. I wrote about it in much more detail in my first race report, but to summarize, I simply took off like a jack rabbit and pushed my heart rate into the 180s ( or somewhere near my max). It took me several minutes of backstroke, breaststroke, and treading water to get over the anxiety of feeling like I couldn’t breathe in the water. It didn’t that it was my first swim in a wetsuit It’s a classic newbie mistake which is both ironic and comical seeing that I come from a swimming background in high school and some of college. In addition I was an ocean lifeguard in Southern California during those same years.
My competitive strokes in swimming were the 50, 100, and the 200 yard freestyle events. These were essentially anaerobic sprints lasting 21 seconds, 45 seconds, and about a minute and 40 seconds respectively.
As I watch the Olympic swimming events, I see the same routines and rituals and nervous energy in these world-class Olympic athletes that we went through before an event. Essentially, at the starters gun, you just take off and go out and as hard and as fast as you can for that short duration of time.
When you hear the starter’ gun your heart rate is up and you take off like a bat out of hell. The effect was almost Pavlovian for us.
It reminds me of my first track and field event and really one of the only one that ever done. I was about nine years old and it was one lap around the track. Apparently, the PE teacher or coach or whatever had failed to give a basic instruction about and how to run the race for that matter. All I remember is a commanding lead after the first 100 yard and then quickly dying and watching everybody else passed me while I gasped for air. So it is quite possible that over the course of 40 years I have learned absolutely nothing about any event that lasts longer than two minutes.
I hope I have been training smarter than the first few months prior to my first triathlon, the question is can I compete smarter?
I have my first sprint triathlon coming up this Saturday at Camp Pendleton Marine base Southern California. I am hoping that the sprint distance may be better suited to my fast-twitch muscle fiber composition. The process I have been thinking through is the warm-up leading up to the actual event. One of the big mistake I made for my Olympic distance triathlon was not getting enough water time to get my upper body warmed up prior to the event. I have also been getting some information about how to do a dynamic warm up for running which probably would help the bike as well. I am thinking that the shorter the event, the more important the warm-up really is. There probably is not much of a point of doing a wind sprint warm up for a full Ironman triathlon.
I think the real key, though, is just to remain calm especially at beginning of the swim. I now I have a very efficient stroke and once I get moving along I should be just fine.

I will be interested if anybody has any links for specific recommendations for the sequence and general amount of warm-up that they have found to be successful for sprint or Olympic distance triathlons.

My next post should be the race report.

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