General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance? Rss Feed  
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2013-08-25 2:19 AM

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Subject: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
Hey there,
Been thinking about this a lot tonight.

I just did a tri on 8/10, sprint distance and my time was 2:05 (M 30-34). It was my first tri, and I was in horrible shape prior to signing up.

Just saw a neat tri in Honolulu mid-may. Would it be realistic to think I can get myself ready for an Oly distance, and not just finish but do it competitively?

Been down with IT band issue since my tri, but I've been swimming to try to keep some sort of activity going. Not even sure what more information would be helpful. The way I see it, there are about 8- 8.5 solid months of training possible. Winter here would make running difficult, but swimming and time on the trainer are still possible.

What should I be looking at training wise?


2013-08-25 2:45 AM
in reply to: dbmata

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
From my very humble experience (a few tris and aquas and several trail races) anytime you move up a distance you shouldn't expect to be competitive. I've found that when I move up to a new distance that I'm not always quite ready for it, at least to be in anyway competitive. I went from doing super sprints over the past few years to my first sprint this summer. I was surprised at the huge difference that a "couple" of extra kilometers makes and didn't do nearly as well competitively as I thought I would. This confirmed what I've already experienced in trail racing. I think this is because of a lack of experience in both training for and racing at that distance.

So, that being said and given your post, I don't think it's realistic to expect do an oly competitively. You were in bad shape just before your first sprint. You have IT band issues which are are problem enough when you've already got the fitness. But if you don't already have the necessary base fitness, IT band problems will make it much harder to get to where you need to be to be competitive.
2013-08-25 3:54 AM
in reply to: jaja63

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
If you need to ask, you don't believe. If you don't believe, you won't be competitive.

Print off last years results, work out what time you have to go in order to be competitive and then work out what you have to do to get that time based on your strengths, weaknesses and availability to train.

If you manage it you would have pulled off what most people consider highly unlikely. But anything's possible.
2013-08-25 3:57 AM
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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
Assuming your injury clears up in time for you to work on run base by the beginning of the year, if you follow a good training program, progress gradually, and stay healthy, completing the race is a reasonable goal. However, to be competitive in that age group, your Oly time couldn't be much slower than your sprint time (I'm not talking about pace, but about overall time!). So I think it's not realistic to be competitive in that time frame. That takes several years of building an aerobic engine and skills in all three sports that you clearly don't have under your belt yet. Even for the naturally gifted, there really isn't any way to skip that process.

A far more realistic approach would be to set some short term goals--focus on improving your swim (maybe get some coaching and/or join a master's group) and bike (trainer?) over the fall and winter, slowly ramp up the running as the legs allow once the IT issue clears up (they usually do with rest), sign up for the Hawaii race, and just aim to have the best race you can at your fitness level. Having once lived there for a few years, I can assure you that no race in Hawaii is a bad race, and no trip to Hawaii is a bad idea! Definitely the kind of goal that could get you through a cold winter.

If, by the time the race rolls around, you've truly caught the tri bug, you'll no doubt be signing up as soon as possible to see how much you can beat your time by the following year!

Edited by Hot Runner 2013-08-25 3:59 AM
2013-08-25 4:42 AM
in reply to: dbmata


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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
What were your time splits for your sprint?
2+ hrs seems like you may need some work in all disciplines.

Focal points:

SWIM SWIM SWIM
BIKE BIKE BIKE
RUN RUN
2013-08-25 5:41 AM
in reply to: dbmata

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
What were the distances of the sprint? What was the course like (flat, hilly, rolling)? What were your times for each leg? How did your time rank in your age group and overall? What training did you do in preparation for the sprint? What is your athletic background (any high school, college, or other competitive sports)? How many days a week and hours each day do you have available for training? What do you mean by "be competitive"?


2013-08-25 6:36 AM
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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
Sign up for the race and get committed to your training. If you can bike a lot while the ITband is healing, focus on that for now. But get back to running gradually as soon as you're healthy- don't neglect running over the winter because of weather. Runners run in all weather, or you can run on a treadmill.

Whether or not you can be "competitive" will depend on how much fitness potential you have and how well you can progress. I wouldn't go into the training with any expectations of where you'll get - just train forawd and train consistently.

If you will only be happy if you get top 10% in your AG or whatever, I'd say you're thinking about it in the wrong way. You're goal should be to progress forward as much as you can and challenge yourself to do your best.

Edited by jennifer_runs 2013-08-25 6:47 AM
2013-08-25 8:03 AM
in reply to: dbmata

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
Yes!! That's 7 months away, It's double the distance and what you will ask of your body. I literally just did that this year. I had an OK fitness base (sprint tri times =1;30ish) and loosely followed plans for OLY training. Commitment to the race MADE held me accountable. I did/do have heel & foot and back issues. Visits to chiro/stretching and listening to my body and progressing SLOWLY with increasing only 10%fitness level a month as been the key. I struggled w/injuries, self doubt but felt amazingly accomplished after crossing the finish line with some dignity for my first OLY (time= 3;05) I say go for it!!
2013-08-25 8:45 AM
in reply to: dbmata

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?

So you want to go from a BOP finish in a sprint tri to a 'competitive' finish in an Oly in eight months?

If you're looking for a reason to justify a trip to Hawaii, then that's fine, go for it and have fun.  You probably have enough time to train enough to be able to finish.  Maybe.

Being polite as possible, if you think you're going to become competitive in an Oly in M30-34 in the time available then you're not being realistic.  

Mark

 

2013-08-25 8:58 AM
in reply to: #4838238

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
I didn't get competitive until I started training for longer distance races. Mainly the half iron distance. Signed up for a sprint on a whim to race with my wife and came in second in my age group.
2013-08-25 9:49 AM
in reply to: dbmata

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?

I've done that race 3x in the past.  It's fun.  The course is fast.  It will hard to get to a competitive level though by 2014.  You would have to be in the 2:20 range just to crack the top 10 in your AG. 



2013-08-25 10:10 AM
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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?

Define competitive. What were the distances and splits at the sprint triathlon?

Are you wanting to be competitive in relation to the rest of the field? Podium? What exactly does competitive mean to you?

Sure you can probably do what you put your mind to. Should you? That depends on your goals and expectations.

People on this forum will often encourage or support other people to do things that in my opinion are not a good idea.

It is my opinion that IF you have to ask other people for validation or reassurance then you already know the the answer to your question.



Edited by Catwoman 2013-08-25 10:20 AM
2013-08-25 12:44 PM
in reply to: Dan-L

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
Originally posted by Dan-L

If you need to ask, you don't believe. If you don't believe, you won't be competitive.

Print off last years results, work out what time you have to go in order to be competitive and then work out what you have to do to get that time based on your strengths, weaknesses and availability to train.

If you manage it you would have pulled off what most people consider highly unlikely. But anything's possible.


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2013-08-25 5:14 PM
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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
Yeah, just what the others said. Being able to finish an Oly is definitely in the cards. Train right and you will be prepared to have the best race of your life....

But if 'competitive' means having a reasonable chance of an AG podium spot, I think that's unlikely. For those who are adult-onset athletes, who have some talent, and who work hard, it generally takes 2-3 years to get there.

But why worry about it? Immerse yourself in the sport; train to the best of your ability (wisely, consistently, committed). If you do that, results just might come.

[Edited to make it English...]

Edited by Experior 2013-08-25 5:15 PM
2013-08-25 5:21 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?

Originally posted by Hot Runner Assuming your injury clears up in time for you to work on run base by the beginning of the year, if you follow a good training program, progress gradually, and stay healthy, completing the race is a reasonable goal. However, to be competitive in that age group, your Oly time couldn't be much slower than your sprint time (I'm not talking about pace, but about overall time!). So I think it's not realistic to be competitive in that time frame. That takes several years of building an aerobic engine and skills in all three sports that you clearly don't have under your belt yet. Even for the naturally gifted, there really isn't any way to skip that process. A far more realistic approach would be to set some short term goals--focus on improving your swim (maybe get some coaching and/or join a master's group) and bike (trainer?) over the fall and winter, slowly ramp up the running as the legs allow once the IT issue clears up (they usually do with rest), sign up for the Hawaii race, and just aim to have the best race you can at your fitness level. Having once lived there for a few years, I can assure you that no race in Hawaii is a bad race, and no trip to Hawaii is a bad idea! Definitely the kind of goal that could get you through a cold winter. If, by the time the race rolls around, you've truly caught the tri bug, you'll no doubt be signing up as soon as possible to see how much you can beat your time by the following year!

^ That's pretty good advice.

2013-08-25 5:54 PM
in reply to: Left Brain

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
That's one of the most competitive age groups in tri, second only to M35-39. I would say not a chance to be competitive. 2hr+ sprint is really really not a god sign.


2013-08-25 6:04 PM
in reply to: aliddle9876

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
Originally posted by aliddle9876

That's one of the most competitive age groups in tri, second only to M35-39. I would say not a chance to be competitive. 2hr+ sprint is really really not a god sign.


It was his first. I wouldn't predict much from that result except that he's going to have to put the work in, and as stated, that will likely take longer than a year.

Oh, and M40-44 often beats M30-34. Just sayin'... ;-)
2013-08-25 11:49 PM
in reply to: Experior

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
Ok, was away from the computer for just part of the day, and I get an amazing level of replies and opinions.

I really appreciate it. A little in the way of a touch of background. I was in terrible shape, and used a tri as a tool to really push myself. So finishing the sprint and not being DFL was big for me. It's not enough. I want to at least hit the middle of the pack come 2014, I have the opportunity to dedicate a good deal of time to working out. I work east coast hours, and my wife works west coast hours, so when I get off work at 2pm, I have a good 2.5-3.5 hours to train daily before I even have to worry about wife time.

I found I was unrealistic coming into my first race, I'll probably continue to be unrealistic, but this perspective has helped a lot. Ok, now to get to replies for everyone...

jaja63 : So it sounds like I should once again just focus on a finish, and make sure I'm not DFL. You're right, I was in poor shape, and now with my IT band, it's not helping me any.

Dan-L : I have belief in abundance, realism? Well, it gets in the way of my optimism. I was sure I was going to finish my sprint in 1:40. 25 minutes earlier than I finished it in. I like the idea of laying out a categorical analysis to use a reference point to start training for a longer distance from.

Hot Runner : Yeah, looking at the times from 2013, and in my age group there isn't a ton of time for me to be slower. I basically have to double my speed, which is a lot to expect from what I have. Regarding swim and bike. I have a coach, and work swimming 2-3x per week. For biking, I'm going to get a trainer, and am setting up a room in the basement for training in. You're right, no trip to Hawaii is a bad idea. I almost went into grad school there, just because it was Hawaii. Thanks for your advice, it's sound.

skibummer: Swim: 23 and change, Bike 54 and change (I was really surprised and upset by that.), and for the run I spent most of the first half cramped and hobbled, so it went 42 minutes. I do need work in all disciplines, that's for sure.

TriMyBest - 1/2 mi swim, 13.2 bike, 3.1mi run. The bike was a lot hillier than I trained for, and the run less so. The swim was a lot more chaotic than I expected, but the swim was my core focus for training, my two open water sessions the week prior had me at .98mi in 40 minutes, so I was surprised I did that slowly in the swim too. Age group: 11 of 11. 10th place was 12.5 minutes faster than me.

Training to prep was: 2x per week, swim coaching, 2-3x per week 60-90 minutes swimming. 2-3x per week bike for an average of 55-65 miles a week, 2x runs per week, and I really needed to increase the mileage I was doing there. I think I need to significantly up the run volume if I ever plan to go further than a poor performance at a sprint. I can train 7 days a week, could easily dedicate 3-4 hours daily without significant impact to family life. Finally, competitive sports: Baseball in HS. My definition of competitive at this time is simply middle of the pack for now.

jennifer runs : What really got me committed to finally doing my sprint was signing up. I've talked about a tri for 10 years. Finally did it, now I want to see what the potential I do have now is. We do get some pretty wicked snow here, but not for a good amount of time, so I can get out, and when it's too bad out, treadmill. (I hate those things.) Good point though, can't let the weather dictate my run volume if I want to do this.

joyct32: Thanks for your experience. 3 hours is a good time, honestly, I think I'd be happy with that. I should keep in touch with you about injuries.

RedCorvette : Don't need to justify a trip to Hawaii, but I would love to crawl my way up to MOP.

Jason_N: You actually answered a question I had about their course. 2:20 is serious for me, I'll need to keep that in mind.

Experior: I think I should have better defined competitive, for me that's MOP, but yeah immersion and just enjoying it. It would be nice in a couple years to work up to an IM distance, and then start trying to take better than MOP in an Oly distance.
2013-08-26 8:25 AM
in reply to: dbmata

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
I DID go to grad school in Hawaii, at least partially because it was Hawaii. Oddly enough, despite a marathon, plenty of road and trail runs, and some open water swimming, I didn't catch the tri bug there--still regret it. I try to return as often as possible and if on the trainer, you can always find me plugged into some good Hawaiian music--Hapa, Makaha Sons, etc, etc. Might be fun to download some for motivation. You can ride along going nowhere and imagine flying past surfers on an oceanside road.
2013-08-26 9:43 AM
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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?

First, let me say that I applaud your enthusiasm.  And thanks for clarifying that you define 'competitive' as MOP.

Your first tri is always a tremendous learning experience and your results aren't always indicative of your potential in the sport.  Besides giving you feedback on your baseline fitness, it can also point out where you need work on the more technical aspects of the sport.  Some things, like practicing transitions, yields "free time" when it comes to a race.  Most folks follow a steep improvement curve after their first few races.   FWIW, I did my first sprint tri at age 50 and also finished in 2:02.  I did the same race a year later and finished in 1:30.

My best advice to you would be:

  • Research some of the online training plans to see what types of training volumes are recommended for an Oly.  Although you might have 3-4 hours/day available to train, that is probably overdoing it at this point.  You need to build volume gradually or you run the risk of injury.  Allowing adequate recovery time between workouts is critical.
  • Consistency is a key to building fitness.  You need to set up a training schedule that fits your lifestyle and then do everything you can to stick to it.  If you're consistent with your training and miss and occasional workout, it's no big deal.  But you can't afford to miss weeks at a time, then you're starting over all the time.
  • You have correctly identified the need to work on your running.  Twice a week isn't nearly enough.  You should be doing at least 3-4 runs/week.  That can be broken up into one longer run and several short runs.  There's lot of info here on BT and other online sources about training paces. 
  • Nutrition becomes more important when moving up from sprint to Oly distance.  You will need to determine some of it by trial and error, but it definitely should be factored into your training.
  • While we all get a bit of an adrenaline boost that helps performance on race day, you can't depend on it, especially for longer races.  I like to remind myself of the old adage that if you haven't done in training, then you're not going to do it in a race.  In other words, train properly and then trust your training.

Good luck.  Keep us updated on your progress.

Mark

 



Edited by RedCorvette 2013-08-26 9:43 AM
2013-08-26 10:23 AM
in reply to: RedCorvette


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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
I'm going to just let you know where my background was and how much I trained before my first tri, (Oly Distance) that I just completed this past weekend and that might help you a little.

I come from a background of sports, so I have always been in pretty good shape. Before starting my tri training I never biked or swam before. I was running about 2-4 days per week and lifting about 2 days per week. My runs usually peaked at about 4-5 miles.

About 3 1/2 months before the tri I signed up and started training. At first I could barely swim 100 meters without feeling like I was going to die. Eventually I could do 1000 meters in a pool fairly easily.

I tried to swim, bike or run at least 2 times per week for each, sometimes would brick longer bikes with a short run. Overall I could have trained more, but had a lot on my plate so usually only trained about 5-7 hours per week.

I finished my race in about 3:20. To be "competitive", and by that I dont mean podium, I mean top 5ish in the age group I would have needed to be around 2:30

Hopefully that gives you an idea of where you need to get. I think If I had trained for another few months I could have definitely broke 3 hours.

One thing I have learned on here is to be competitive against yourself. I knew I didn't have a lot of time to prepare, especially coming from a background with no swim or bike, so I st my goal at 3:30 and went for it. It feels great knowing I accomplished that even if I was towards the bottom of my AG. There will be more races, and a lot of room for improvement. That being said, set yourself a goal , and go get it!


2013-08-26 10:36 AM
in reply to: dbmata

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?
You've seen some good advice.

"Competitive" for most AG's in an OLY would be 2:05--2:20 which is pretty darn fast. I'm in the M45-49, and this is what I'd need to do to be "competitive" (top 20% in my AG).

MOP can range from 2:20--3:00.

Weather and course conditions can change these A LOT!

Rhetorically, what is it worth to you to have a chance at a 2:30 finish?

Assuming you already have a road bike, would you consider hiring a coach who can customize a training plan to specifically address your current fitness, your goals, and your other life commitments? Are you willing to *do* what your coach tells you to do even when you're tired and don't want to? For a time commitment, you're probably looking at 7-10 hours per week dedicated to triathlon training.

You could make some gear purchases, but these would be less important than developing a training plan that gets you trained without injury.
2013-08-26 11:48 AM
in reply to: dbmata

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Subject: RE: Reality check request: Fitness for Oly distance?

Originally posted by dbmata ...A little in the way of a touch of background. I was in terrible shape, and used a tri as a tool to really push myself. So finishing the sprint and not being DFL was big for me. It's not enough. I want to at least hit the middle of the pack come 2014, I have the opportunity to dedicate a good deal of time to working out. I work east coast hours, and my wife works west coast hours, so when I get off work at 2pm, I have a good 2.5-3.5 hours to train daily before I even have to worry about wife time...

...TriMyBest - 1/2 mi swim, 13.2 bike, 3.1mi run. The bike was a lot hillier than I trained for, and the run less so. The swim was a lot more chaotic than I expected, but the swim was my core focus for training, my two open water sessions the week prior had me at .98mi in 40 minutes, so I was surprised I did that slowly in the swim too. Age group: 11 of 11. 10th place was 12.5 minutes faster than me. Training to prep was: 2x per week, swim coaching, 2-3x per week 60-90 minutes swimming. 2-3x per week bike for an average of 55-65 miles a week, 2x runs per week, and I really needed to increase the mileage I was doing there. I think I need to significantly up the run volume if I ever plan to go further than a poor performance at a sprint. I can train 7 days a week, could easily dedicate 3-4 hours daily without significant impact to family life. Finally, competitive sports: Baseball in HS. My definition of competitive at this time is simply middle of the pack for now...  

Based on all that, given an adequate commitment level from now until spring to smart training, I think your goal is achievable.  That means you either need to read everything you can and very quickly learn what good training looks like, or hire someone to manage it for you.  For example, as a starting point, you need to increase the weekly training frequency of all three sports.  As a minimum, I'd suggest 3 x swimming, 3 x biking, and 4 x running.  What each of those sessions should look like is where things get a bit more complicated, because they will change over the next few months.

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