Super Athlete Series

Gold Medal

My boyfriend is a peach: he’s been recording the parts of the 2012 Summer Olympics that he knows I will be interested in. Guess what that sport is? Duh, swimming. 🙂 If you aren’t impressed with the amazing skills of these athletes, I don’t know what could convince you. It’s exciting!

I’m probably a few days behind watching the sports but what I’ve seen so far has been fun to watch. I’ll admit, I’m a big Michael Phelps fan, so of course I’m rooting for him.

Synchronized Diving

I watched the synchronized diving and was so impressed with China! Those girls were identical in every way–they looked like robots! While diving has never been my favorite sport, I know exactly how hard it is to be good at synchronized swimming. It takes a lot of strength to hold poses for long, hold your breathe under water and be 100% in synch with your team. I did synchronized swimming for a few years as a kid and I marvel now that I was able to do it!

The diving with the spinning was absolutely beautiful to watch.

100m Fly

Dana Vollmer beat the world record for the 100 meter butterfly (55.98 seconds) and won the Gold Medal. Watching her made me wish that I could do the butterfly. It was beautiful and fluid.

What I noticed first about the women’s 100m Fly event was how different it was from the men’s. The men had more power in their upper body and were raised out the water higher than the women. I’d never noticed that before.

400meter

Lochte is the new favorite but I’m still a Phelps fan. It’s pretty exciting watching these two perform even though Phelps didn’t win. Ryan Lochte beat him by 4 seconds but as they were swimming I commented to Michael that Michael Phelps looked really good–conditioned, slender, strong.

There is a lot of hype around Lochte and a lot of questions about whether Phelps is on his way out. I really hope not, because he inspires me every day. (Check out this article: Why Ryan Lochte Will Always Be in Phelps’ Shadow.) But Lochte is the second fastest time in history–behind #1 Michael Phelps!

4×100 Swim Relay

By far, the most exciting part was the relay race. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. USA had the lead, thanks to Phelps. His long body, powerful stroke and speed had him as much as a body length ahead of everyone else. The other teammates continued the lead on their turn and then Lochte–picked to win–lost the lead they had. France won by a tiny fraction, disappointing.

If you missed my series on swimming, you can check it out here:

Lap Swimming Etiquette

Swimming Tips for Beginners

How to Swim Freestyle

How to Swim Breaststroke

So You Want to Be a Swimmer

My Favorite Swimming Gear

The Time I Swam 2 Miles

I Am Legendary 

I’m loving the swimming events. I could nerd out all day long on it. What I want is a comprehensive breakdown of what these athletes eat.

Now I’m off to the pool to set my own world records! 🙂

QUESTION: Are you watching the Olympics? What is your favorite event?

Triathlon Help

Triathlon Help

Guest Post by Sugar Magnolia

 

Triathlon.

Just the word can sound scary to a beginner.  Or at least I knew it did to me.  As a runner, I had always been intrigued by the idea of doing a triathlon, but I wasn’t a biker or swimmer.  And the idea of learning how to bike and swim, and then putting them back-to-back-to-back with running during an actual race, was daunting.

I was finally convinced to give triathlon a try last summer.  I kept injuring myself while running, and a friend of mine urged me to start cross-training with biking and swimming as a way to get my sweat on while not putting any impact and stress on my bones.  After only one dip in the pool and one spin on the bike, he convinced me to sign up for a sprint triathlon four months away.  I began to train almost daily, and by race day I was ready. I had the time of my life, and was so proud of myself when I crossed the finish line. I was finally a triathlete!  To date, I have completed 4 sprint triathlons, and am currently training for an Olympic-distance triathlon, which is roughly double the length of a sprint.

Do you want to try a triathlon? Go for it! Here are some tips:

Gear  Triathlon can be as cheap or expensive as you want.  At the very least you need the basics.

  • For the swim, you need goggles, a swim cap and a bathing suit.  And, of course, you need access to a pool where you can swim laps, whether it’s in your backyard, at a community center, or at the local YMCA.
  • For the bike, you need a bike and helmet.  Any kind of bike will do.  You will see people racing with specialized triathlon bikes, but you will also see tons of people with regular road bikes.  I myself raced my first 2 triathlons with my old hybrid!  I have also seen people riding on mountain bikes and even a one-speed cruiser.  As long as it has two wheels and you can pedal it, you’re good to go, although the lighter bikes (road and triathlon) are easier to race in.
  • For the run, you need a good pair of running shoes.  Get fitted at a specialty running store to ensure you get the shoe that’s right for your feet.
  • I recommend a water bottle for both the bike and the run, as hydration is very important.
  • There are tons of extras you can buy (a wetsuit, paddles, specialized bike shoes and pedals, padded bike shorts, a tri suit, wicking running clothes, a GPS watch, etc) but really, as long as you have the basics I listed above you can train and race.

Which race?  For a beginner, I recommend signing up for a sprint triathlon, which is the shortest distance.  Sprints vary by distance, but most are about a 400-750 meter swim, 20k bike ride, and 5k run (more or less).  Check out active.com for a sprint triathlon in your area.  Some tris are in a pool, while others are in open water, so keep that in mind as you look for one.  At every race I’ve done, there were always tons of beginners.  A sprint is a very reachable goal for a newbie.

Ask for help  Every triathlete had their first triathlon at some point, and most love to help newbies.  Ask a friend who does triathlons for pointers.  I myself bought “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Triathlon Training” when I first got started, which was chock-full of great tips.  Or join an online community, like Daily Mile, TriathaNewbie, or Beginner Triathlete, where you can ask as many questions as you want and get tons of answers.

Train, train, train!  The only way to prepare for a triathlon…is to prepare!  You need to commit to putting the time in so that you feel ready on race day.  Work especially hard on your weakest sports.  For me, running was easy, as I was already training for and doing half marathons, but my biking and swimming needed lots of work.  I took a few private swim lessons to work on my form and breathing, since I had never swam competitively, only for pleasure.  And I had to learn how to really push myself on the bike by not just riding flat courses but finding some hills.  If you put the time in and prepare diligently, you will do well on race day.  And regardless of how long it takes you, or whether you come in first place, last place, or somewhere in between, you will know that you did all you could to prepare.

Transitions  Every triathlon has two transitions in addition to the swim, bike and run.  You have transition 1 (otherwise known as T1) which is where you transition from the swim to the bike, and transition 2 (T2) where you transition from the bike to the run.  Knowing how you will lay your gear out in the transition area and practicing the transition will ease your mind for race day.  Know how to quickly strip off your wetsuit and how not to forget to put on your bike helmet!  You can find some useful videos about how to set up your transition on youtube.com.

Bricks  A brick is when you do two consecutive workouts back-to-back without stopping (except for transition).  The most popular brick is bike-run, but you can also swim-bike, swim-run, run-swim, etc.  I highly recommend a few bike-run bricks before race day as part of your training, as you will find it’s hard to run right after you bike. It typically takes me a good mile or so into the run before I can really feel my legs, which turn into jelly on the bike!

Mimic Race Day  If you are doing an open water swim (OWS) in a lake, bay or ocean for your triathlon, I urge you to do at least one OWS before the race. Swimming in open water is completely different than swimming in a pool.  Instead of clear, chlorinated water with a black line underneath you, ropes on either side of you and a wall at each end, you are in open water which is cold, murky, full of seaweed and tastes weird.  Having an OWS experience before you race will greatly help you know what to expect. Also, if you are able to, bike and run on as much of the race course as you can beforehand so you know where the hills and turns are.

Have Fun  Above all else, have fun, both with the training and the race itself.  I myself have never been as fit as when I started triathlon training, and never get bored because every day it’s a different type of workout.  Really, I think I have more fun training for triathlons than actually racing them!  And crossing the finish line is a moment you will always remember.

 

Bio

I am a runner-turned-triathlete who can be found swimming, biking and running in San Diego.  As a back-of-the-pack athlete, I know the value of having fun during training and races.  I originally got into running as a way to combat the heart disease that runs rampant in my family, but am now addicted to getting my sweat on nearly every day. I am a mom to two kids, including one with special medical needs.  You can find my blog (where I write about running, triathlon, and parenting) at Grateful Mama or follow me on Twitter, @sugarmagnolia70.

QUESTION: Are you ready to try a tri?

 

Lisa’s Note: This was a great, informative post that really makes me want to do a tri! I need to get over my fear of failure and just TRY it!