Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Are you inside fit and outside fit?

A few weeks ago I took a client of mine to the lake. We were going to run and then swim after our run. This client runs several times a week on the treadmill in the gym and is a descent swimmer in the pool at the gym. She does strength training with me 3 times a week. I thought it would be no big deal. We would run and then go for a quick swim in the lake after the run. In Las Vegas it is pretty hot in the summer. We started early at 7am and it was already close to 100. I frequently run outside in the summer in Vegas so 100 was not a big deal for me. We had plenty of water for the run so off we went. I felt great! I noticed about 10 minutes into the run, my client said go ahead and was slowing down. I went ahead and after a while I went back to see how she was. At this point she was walk/running. She said she was fine so I went ahead. Then I ran a little more and turned back around. She was stopped when I found her. She was clearly having trouble with the heat. We went back and she walked most of the way back. Then I said lets go get in the water that will feel good. Well to me it did! She swam out about 50 meters to the first buoy and had to float on her back several times going out. Once out to the first buoy she clung to it for dear life! This is someone who can swim pretty good in the pool. When you cant see the bottom of the pool it is a completely different story.
She came to the gym to train with me the following week. She said (joking) that I tried to kill her! She then proceeded to say that she came to the conclusion that she was inside fit not outside fit. At first I thought she was talking about inside her body but then I got it. She is fit if she is training in the gym. She can run pretty good and pretty far on the treadmill. She can swim good in the pool as long as she can see the black line and touch the end after each 25. She is NOT fit outside the gym. Running outside is different then running in the gym on the treadmill. Outside you have a variety of weather conditions and natural inclines that will challenge you.
The more I thought about what she said the more I realized that a lot of people fall into this category. Those are the people that think because they run on the treadmill, and take spin class, that in a month they will be able to train for a triathlon. To all of the people in that category, I would tell you to do the following before you commit to the race:

  • Go to the nearest open water and swim in it. Do this with someone who is a good swimmer and CPR certified!
  • Take your bike outside (hopefully you have a bike) and find a good course to ride.
  • Go for a run outside on a rolling hill course.

Once you do all of that you can determine how long it will take you to get ready for your first triathlon. A sprint triathlon seems like a pretty short distance. When you put it all together outside with all of the natural elements it becomes a little more challenging.

In summary I would tell anyone training for their first triathlon to ask themselves if they are inside fit and outside fit. Then I would set a realistic time frame to train for the race. If you don't set a realistic time frame you are setting yourself up for failure, injury, or just plain having a miserable time. Triathlons can be a ton of fun but be smart with your training.

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