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Triathlons, once considered an extreme form of endurance sports, are becoming increasingly mainstream. “Anyone of any age, shape and size can go out, train and compete in a triathlon,” says Kara Donnelly, a USAT- and International Triathlon Union-certified coach and International Race Coordinator for the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association. With the Cayman Islands Triathlon slated for November 6, Donnelly shares some training tips for first-timers.
”Even if you’ve never done a triathlon before, you can train for a sprint triathlon — 750-metre swim, 20K bike ride and 5K run — in three months. Consistency is the key,” says Donnelly. “If you’re new to triathlons, you’ll want to train four to six times a week. At least two swims, one bike ride and one run,” she continues. New triathletes should start their swim training in a pool to get comfortable in the water. Aim to complete a couple of lengths at first, or for more advanced swimmers, make your initial goal to swim 400 to 500 metres, then gradually increase that goal each week.
“Towards the last month of training aim to do one swim per week in the sea — be sure to go with a buddy for safety — to get accustomed to swimming in open water,” says Donnelly.
For the cycling aspect, again, start gently. Begin with 20-minute rides to get comfortable on the saddle. “Your butt kills [you] at first, but you will get used to it,” she warns. Increase your time gradually each session so that by the end of training you can cycle for one and a half to two hours. Technique-wise, she recommends riding with a high cadence in an easy gear. In other words, you want to feel less resistance but pedal faster. “This is because the bike sets you up for the run,” Donnelly explains. “If you use up all your energy on the ride, you’ll have none left for the run.”
The transition from cycling to running is something you need to incorporate into your training from about week eight, as your legs typically feel like jelly when you get off the bike. Donnelly suggests doing your regular bike ride, hopping off the bike and running for at least 10 minutes to let your legs adjust to the change of discipline.
For running training, you can start with a run-walk programme, where you might run for one minute and walk for four, for up to 20 minutes. This will be built up as your fitness level increases. However, Donnelly advises, “Many triathletes actually run/walk on race day — and there is nothing wrong with that. The goal is simply to finish!”
In order to help triathletes get a feel for what’s in store, the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association will run a series of shorter training races called Build Up Tris, which will take place on September 4, September 25 and October 16.
Few destinations offer racing conditions as favourable as Grand Cayman: calm and clear sea, flat terrain and the superb camaraderie offered by a tight-knit community of triathletes. So, what’s stopping you?
For more information on the Cayman Islands Triathlon, visit triathlon.ky.