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May 16, 2010 10:32 PM   Subscribe

Looking for people's experiences training for their first triathlon, experiences w/ Team in Training NYC would help

So I'm about 7 months post-ACL surgery, I've finished graduate school, and I need a new outlet. I'm seriously considering signing up with Team in Training for one of two different Olympic-Distance triathlons (1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run) held in the NE in September. So I have about 3.5 months to train.

Right now, I'm in decent (not great) shape. Gym workouts have me running or biking for 20-30 minutes at a time, though I could do more. Knee is sore after a hard workout, but it's not bad. I'm a terrible swimmer. My thought is that a triathlon with T-in-T would be a way to get me into better shape, improve my swimming, and provide a new social outlet, which is always welcome.

Would really love to hear from anyone who has done T-in-T triathlon training, especially in NYC. What were your experiences? How was the training? How was the fundraising? How to get the best experience out of it?
posted by swngnmonk to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think it would make a lot of sense (as someone with ligament issues too) to tackle one of the legs first before trying to take on all three; you're setting yourself up for a training schedule that your knee may not be able to handle yet. Everyone's experience is different, but the difference in training between 20-30 minutes training at the gym and cross-training for a triathlon is pretty big.

If you're looking for the social outlet, train for a 10k with a local running group and go from there. If you find that to be easy enough, move on to swimming (less likely to hurt your knee increasing training) and see if you can find a lap-swim group. From there, you're well on your way to doing the Tri and can join a training group.
posted by Hiker at 3:27 AM on May 17, 2010

I'm actually going to slightly disagree with Hiker. I started training for a sprint triathlon while I was rehabbing a knee injury (though not as severe as an ACL surgery), as a way to get a lot of training time in without risking doing my knee further injury.

I would check with an orthopedist (preferably one who has some sports-medicine experience) just to make sure that you can handle the training load of an Olympic-distance tri without risking injuring your knee. An Oly is a big step up from a sprint, and I might suggest signing up for and training for a sprint tri before tackling the Oly. And training for a sprint-distance triathlon will also boost your fitness level pretty significantly (plus a 750-m swim is a lot less daunting than a 1500-m swim for a novice swimmer).

I don't have any experience with Team in Training, because I'm an awful fundraiser and I know it. If you like fundraising, then Team in Training can be a great way to work with a coach and get the social outlet that you're looking for -- the Team in Training folks around here always look like they're really into the whole thing, all high-fiving each other and setting up their own little water stops for their training runs and stuff.

But if you are looking for more of just the social aspect and the group-training aspect, and don't really care about the charity aspect that much, you might look into the New York Triathlon Club. I don't really know anything about them, but triathlon clubs are usually a great way to build friendships, find training partners, etc. My triathlon club definitely has been an inspiration to me to continue with the sport. You don't have to be a Kona contender or something to join one -- my 1:33 sprint sure isn't breaking the sound barrier anytime soon -- and you're likely to find people who are really, really into the sport and can give you really good training advice, nutrition advice, etc.

So my $0.02 is that if you have a deep reason for wanting to raise a huge amount of money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, then it might be a good idea to take the plunge if your doc okays it, and if you're okay with the idea that even if you try as hard as you can, you might not be able to finish the race (seriously, I'd probably need at least 4 months to get into racing shape for an Oly, and I'm likely a better swimmer than you. Swimming a mile, biking 25 miles, and then running 6.2 miles is harder than it sounds. Especially the bike-to-run transition. Especially when you're rehabbing a sore knee.)

But if I were in your place, I would join a local tri club or go to Beginner Triathlete, download one of their free sprint training plans, and sign up for a late-season sprint triathlon (preferably a small local one run out of a YMCA or something, with a pool swim). That is probably more manageable than an Olympic tri in 16-ish weeks, for someone who's rehabbing a knee and is in decent but not great shape. Even for a sprint, you're going to need to work hard for roughly an hour and a half (the winners will likely finish at about an hour and 10 minutes, and many first-timers finish somewhere around 1:50-2:00). That's rough if you aren't already accustomed to endurance sports. Tackle the Oly next year if you have fun with the sprint.
posted by kataclysm at 7:21 AM on May 17, 2010

Seconding starting with a sprint, and using Beginner Triathlete, an awersome site. I haven't done a TinT tri, but I did attend an information session, and one of my good friends has done a marathon with them. The fundraising commitment is pretty darn serious - I think it was $5000? - and I just didn't want to spend months emailing my friends and associates about donating. It seems to work best for people in corporate environments who have regular enough schedules and can make all the trainings, and who know lots of high-salaried people who are happy to give money for a tax deduction. At the time that did not describe me. However, access to the training they offer was tempting.

I agree that if it's the sport you're interested in, for pure fun, then just get started with a club or with BT. I ran my first sprint tri using the BT plan, hanging out on the message boards a lot, and developed a little "posse" that met up at our first race, ran together, celebrated, etc. It was a women's tri and some of the men even came out just to hold posters and cheer us on; we'd never met before. So,it's an awesome sport community, but you really don't need the guidance of TinT your first time out. And coming off an injury a sprint is a reasonable goal.
posted by Miko at 7:37 AM on May 17, 2010

Even for a sprint, you're going to need to work hard for roughly an hour and a half (the winners will likely finish at about an hour and 10 minutes,

And just to follow up on that excellent point, it's not just the one-time race day distance and time to think about: it's the lead-up training - in the final six weeks before the race, even for a sprint, you'll be doing 12-20 mile bike rides, "bricks" combining a bike ride with a run of a few miles, and half-mile and mile swims. It translates to four to six days a week, with minimum workouts at about 45 minutes and "long days" at 1.5 - 2 hours. So don't just think about whether your knee can handle the race - think about whether it can handle the regular training over the course of weeks, with short rest periods, as well.
posted by Miko at 7:49 AM on May 17, 2010

Were I in your position, I would seriously reconsider plans to do an Olympic distance in favor of a sprint. Running and biking in a gym is quite different from doing the same on the road, especially in terms of the pounding your knees take.

And then I'd get into the pool and swim swim swim. And swim some more. You might look around for a master's swim team, or a swim class through your park district. I took a "swimming for triathletes" class that was taught by the high school swim coach, and I learned a TON, and made friends. It seems the swimmers in my area are a friendly group, especially the early birds getting in some laps at 5am before work.

I also like to recommend this book to my friends who are considering a tri: Slow Fat Triathlete, by Jayne Williams. It's got a lot of good newbie advice. (Please ignore the title.)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:30 AM on May 17, 2010

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