View Full Version : First Triathlon...ohmygod, what have I done

02-08-2005, 06:14 AM
Hi ladies, I've just signed up for my 1st triathlon , scheduled for the end of April. Reality has set in and I could use some training advice. I cycle 100 miles a week now and am not concerned with the 20 mile bike ride. The swim is a "pool swim" so I'll not be worried about what lurks in the depths of the ocean but the run.....argh. I figured "I cycle, my legs are strong, whats a few miles on foot". Well, having never been a runner (they always look so hot and unhappy when I pass them), I went to my local track and ran 2 miles before cramping up. I am now totally humbled by my running friends who all said "running uses different muscles". 3 days after that fateful run I am still limping around. I can cycle fine..25 miles yesterday was no problem at all, I just can't walk without pain. I've got to get this running part figured out soon. Should I run today even if it hurts? Not run as far? The trithlon run is only 5k but now it seems like 500k! Ouch, help! I wish I had started this at 25, not 50. By the way, the goal is to finish the tri, not to win at this point. I also signed on for a 150 mile Tour de Cure this spring, having never cycled more than 45 miles in a day, so I have lots of training miles to put in also. thanks, ladies.

02-08-2005, 08:07 AM
I run and ride and it is very true - you do NOT use the same muscles. But, most importantly you do use the same heart and lungs. So if the endurance is there you are way ahead of the game. I always run with mild soreness and find it relieves it. If I am "very" sore, I don't run as it will always make it worse. If you're not sure, walk fast for 3 miles. Walking fast also uses different muscles than running, but it's as close as you can get. If you can't walk fast because of soreness, walk slow. Complete rest (like on the couch) is a huge mistake. Some people believe magnesium tablets help with muscle cramps, and many pro football teams drink the brine from pickles (tons of various salts in there) and swear it prevents cramping.

I find that cyclists tend not to stretch as much as runners. Did you stretch after your run? Never stretch before any exercise. Warm up is fine, but stretching should be reserved for afterwards. Overstretching can lead to soreness as well so no bouncing and no painful stretches. Good Luck!!!

02-08-2005, 09:54 AM
Remember, running not only use different muscles, it also has more impact on your body. Doctors have always recommended cycling as a low impact alternative to injured runners. Running is considered a high impact sport and jogs :p (pun intended!) the joints a whole lot more that cycling or swimming. Your ankles, knees, and hips might complain a bit until your body builds the muscles and endurance to deal with running.


02-08-2005, 12:25 PM
Also, as a runner/cyclist - be sure you're running on the whole foot, not just the balls of your feet. Most new runners tend to run up on their feet and that can cause calf cramping. I have also found that increasing my calcium helps with the calf cramps on the rare occasions I get them now (usually as a result of overwork or lack of stretching). One of the things I found that helped me when I started running (geez....20 yrs ago) was to run/walk the distance. Run a block, walk fast for a block, etc etc. It seemed to speed up the "training" process.
As for age, my dad started running for the first time in his life when he was 50 and was running mini-marathons by 52 so pffft on the whole age thing! At least you're out there doing something!!!

and PS: I Always smile when I run.....even if its killing me!...I don't Ever want anyone to see me running without a smile on my face!

02-08-2005, 05:30 PM
As a runner-turned-cyclist I've helped many cyclists make the leap the other direction.

The other posters gave good advice.

Here are my tips:

Shoes: You wouldn't tell a new cyclist to go to WalMart to get a good first bike, right? If you bought your running shoes at a "big box" store, you might have the wrong shoes. A good running store is like a good LBS. At the very least the sales person should examine a pair of your used shoes (to see your wear-patterns), ask about your mileage and goals, and then watch you run (in the store or outside). A really really great store might even have a treadmill and a video recorder and offer gait-analysis. Be warned that that sort of service usually comes with a charge, much like a professional bike-fitting.

IF you don't have a good running store nearby, check out roadrunnersports.com. They offer good basic advice, helpful customer service and they list all of their shoes by "type" ( e.g. "heavy over-pronator with flat arches").

What the others said about running/walking is SO true. I have watched this scenario many times: Cyclist decides to take up running; either as a winter sport or to do a multi-sport event. Cyclist has great cardio. Cyclist goes out and does a one hour run. Cyclist cannot walk the next day. Decides running "sucks" and now replies "I only run when chased...."

When I take a cyclist/new runner out I only "let" them run for 5 minutes at a time. We do the run/walk cycle for ~30 minutes for the first week or so. As your body adapts, you can add more running miles/minutes.

If you feel that this is not enough of a workout for you, you could start with bricks (if you are doing a tri you will need them anyway; see the "duathlon advice" thread below). You can do a short ride (inside on the trainer if need be) then head out for your 15-30 minute run/walk.

Another trick that elite runners use to get miles/time w/o injury: do "two a days" . Run for 10-15 minutes in the morning; add another 10-15 minutes in the evening. Eventually you can do 30 min to 1 hr runs twice a day. This also works well if you have a busy schedule.

Sorry to write a book. As you can tell, I'm passionate about running (AND riding!)

Good luck :)

02-09-2005, 10:00 AM
Which TRI? I am hoping to do the White Lake one in NC on 5/8, then a couple more after that, I just learned to swim last year so I could do some tri's.

After I bike for about an hour I will do a 10 min cool down with a jog, it really helps get used to that weird feeling..

My coach said bikers make better runners than runners making better bikers!
I had concentrated on running too much last year and have had to do a good bit of biking to balance it out, I feel much stronger running now that I am biking more. Now if I could just get faster!!!

I am doing a Dual. April 17 in Richmond VA, and the 16th I am doing a swim meet! a coach where I swim asked me to swim with their masters team - I have to remember to get him to teach me to dive first!

02-09-2005, 03:12 PM
As a triathlon coach I disagree with the advice to run on your whole foot. Although running shoes imply (through excess padding) that we should land on our heels, in fact the calcaneous bone is not meant to take the constant pounding. On the other hand the mid-forefoot is made up of flexible joints which respond to varied terrain as well as shock absorption. This method of running has been studied and developed over the past 5-10 years and most elite runners run on a mid to forefoot.

Yes, there is a bit of strain placed on the calf, but with gradual technique shift and stretching, it will disappear.

As far as having more endurance, you need to build up gradually. As a weight bearing sport the risk for shin splints etc is high especially if you place too much strain on muscles not used to the pounding. It is said that slow is smooth and smooth is fast...that means that to begin with you should concentrate on slow runs where you watch your form and cadence. Ideal cadence is between 160-180 foot strikes per minute. It will feel like you are taking baby-steps at first but once you get used to the increased cadence speed will be easier to build.

Also, watch running on concrete all of the time. Trail running is great for balannce and ankle strength and allows legs some downtime from the hard surfaces. I do about 70% of my running on trails.

If your shins are sore, ice them and watch for continued stress. If you just have slight muscle soreness, you might run but slowly (see above). Tendonitis and shin splints start slow but if not treated will have you out of the count in no time. Also going out for a light spin on the bike or trainer is a great recovery for sore legs...or if you have access to a cold stream/lake in which to soak them for 10-15 minutes.

Feel free to ask any more advice.

Good Luck!

02-11-2005, 05:58 AM
Thanks ladies, what great advice. When I train for this mini-tri (it's in N.C. by the way) should I train like the tri.?(swim, bike ,run). Does it matter if I ride first to warm up and then run a while and then bike again? I can bike to the pool and swim and bike home. Should I then run? I guess what I'm asking is...for training purposes, does it matter what order I train in?

02-12-2005, 08:48 PM
There is an art to training and if you want I would be happy to email you a simple training plan for a sprint triathlon. It sounds like your weakness is the muscular endurance on the run which is a typical weak spot for many triathletes. I have been racing tri for 3 seasons (my focus is Ironman) and cycling competitively for 17 years. I have some very simple plans that I could send to you. Just email me offlist.