Your event day is the time to pull all the pieces together, going from one sport to the next. The key to successful triathlon training is balancing the time and intensity you spend on each sport, not on all three together.
On your event day, though, you (and your muscles) will need to know how to get from one sport to the next. You'll do this by combining two sports in back-to-back workouts during your training weeks. Doing so will help you:
✓ Practice your swim-to-bike and bike-to-run gear transitions
✓ Get your muscles accustomed to moving from one sport to another with little or no time in between for rest
If you're following the training schedules in Chapter 11, some days you'll swim and bike or bike and run. These days are your dual-workout days, and they'll get your muscles comfortable going from one sport to the next and help you to improve your endurance. Treat your dual-workout days as opportunities to practice what you'll need to do in the transition area as well.
Practicing the transition from the swim to the bike leg will help you get comfortable changing clothes or removing your wetsuit, and then getting your shoes and gear on and getting ready for the bike leg. There's a lot to remember in this transition, and you need to practice to get your mind used to all that has to be done.
Your muscles will learn to adapt quickly when you go from swimming to spinning. For this reason, you don't need to do back-to-back workouts for every training session — just enough to make the process smooth and easy. Dualsport workouts are as much about getting comfortable with quickly shedding the clothing or gear for one sport and getting started on the next one as they are about getting your muscles accustomed to the challenge.
The transition from swimming to spinning is the harder of the two transitions because there's more gear involved, so mimicking this transition often during your training will help to prepare you for coming out of the water, running to the transition area, cleaning off your wet (and maybe sandy) feet before slipping them into your shoes, and jumping on your bike for your ride.
But because most of your swim training will be done in a pool, setting up a realistic transition for your dual-workout days will take a little creativity. Whether you swim in a pool indoors or outside, you can set up a transition area and run from the pool to your bike set up nearby. You can even add a wetsuit to your transition practice by putting on your wetsuit over your tri suit to practice training in your gear and for your transition:
1. Find a parking space near the pool in which you can set up your cycling gear.
2. Lay out your gear.
3. For your swim, wear your tri suit underneath your wetsuit.
4. After your swim, run from the building or the pool to the transition area you set up.
5. Remove your wetsuit.
6. Put on your cycling shoes, helmet, sunglasses, and gloves.
7. Head out for your training ride, leaving everything in the pool parking lot or in your car.
If you can't easily secure your wetsuit and other belongings before your ride, ask a friend or family member to help by gathering your belongings for you to keep them secure.
You'll find it easier and more realistic to practice your swim-to-bike transitions during your open-water swim training. Simulate an actual race scenario as much as possible by finding a place in which you can lay out your transition area. Go for your swim. When you exit the water, run to your transition area, get on your cycling gear as quickly as possible, and head out for your training ride.
You'll also want to add dual-sport training days to combine your cycling and running workouts. Although the transition from the bike to the run is easier than the swim-to-bike transition in terms of changing gear, the challenge to your muscles is just as great.
The bike-to-run workout is called a brick, mostly because that's what your legs feel like when you get off a bike after 45 minutes and then try to run.
The more you combine cycling and running workouts, the easier it'll be to run through this feeling of having awkward, heavy legs. To help your muscles prepare to go from spinning to running, as you approach the end of your cycling route where you've set up your transition area, downshift to a lower gear to reduce the resistance and spin without further fatiguing your muscles.
When you first start to run after cycling, your legs will feel uncooperative. After some time, they'll begin to feel normal again — as normal as they'll ever feel after swimming and biking first.
Because back-to-back workouts are strenuous, don't plan more than one of these every other week.
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