The first triathlon of the summer is less than two weeks away and, after spending the last three weeks feeling crappy, I can confidently say I DON’T recommend a cocktail of DayQuil, 5-hour Energy and nasal spray as optimum training fuel.
No, honestly training has been pretty uneventful. I’ve been swimming. And riding. And running. And during a particularly productive ride/run brick Sunday morning, it occurred to me I have made two (albeit) small breakthroughs that I should capture in writing and share with you.
Number 1. As it turns out, the only way to get more comfortable on the bike is — ride your bike more. A lot more. Then maybe some more.
Last summer, I was far more worried about swimming than cycling so I spent every spare minute in the pool. I learned to swim some distance and got comfortable enough in the water that 500 yards in open water was no big deal. And I let things like the guy at the bike shop who sold me my shoes commenting, “oh, you’re a runner? Runners make great cyclists,” inflate my cycling confidence far beyond reality. I took that to heart — runners make great cyclists. And I didn’t spend nearly enough time in the saddle. My legs are strong from running… I know how to ride a bike… Done! But I have always just been so-so about the bike. Not terribly comfortable, not terribly confident, not terribly fast… at all…
But this summer, I was determined to love the bike. The bike is the most significant portion of the triathlon — it stands to reason I should spend some time training, yes?
And it’s true. The only way to get more comfortable on the bike is to actually ride the bike. It’s not just going to happen. This also goes for running or swimming. MUST TRAIN.
Number 2. In a contest of importance, exhaling beats inhaling.
Yes, they are both critical pieces of the whole breathing process. But if I am any indication of normal, people focus far too much on inhaling and not nearly enough on exhaling. A few years ago, Jeff and I took a trip to Mt. Whitney and it was during that trip that we first learned about pressure breathing — a trick mountain climbers use to breathe more easily at altitude. But the same trick works for any kind of exercise. Essentially, as you exercise you periodically focus on expelling all the air from your lungs in one strong push. Go ahead, try it. Take a deep breath, then push the air out as fast and hard as you can. Be warned, it might make a funny noise. Now, you probably won’t notice anything helpful while you’re sitting there, but try it next time you’re walking up stairs. It kinda resets your breathing, and forces your body back into a breathing/working rhythm. So often when we workout, we just need to “calm” our breathing and we’d wear ourselves out a lot slower.
Breathe and ride your bike. You can’t get that kind of wisdom just anywhere, folks. Please hold your applause.
Next hurdle: find a place to swim after July 10th.