Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Triathlon vs. Plain Old Running

Today I have lost my voice, literally, and I know there are some people around here who are thrilled. No yelling, nagging, singing, cussing. This virus has not, however, affected my fart capacity. That end is still going strong.

Things that are hard about losing your voice:

  • It is hard to whisper road rage like, “WTF are you doing a$$hole?” while driving down the road.
  • People you just meet think you are either very meek or mute. Sometimes they start using sign language. I don’t know sign language except for my ABC’s and the middle finger.
  • The dog never comes when I do a yelling whisper. What is his problem?
  • I can’t sit on my back porch and heckle the golfers, “Your balls hang left!” Or some other reference to balls. Working “blue balls” in somehow is the best.

ANY REMEDIES TO GET MY VOICE BACK? <- That is me yelling.

Question of the day from a reader, Marilynn:I was wondering last night if you miss a running-only training schedule. I love that you've gotten into this triathlon training routine and what you're sharing about it but do you miss the days when you just run (almost) everyday? Maybe you can do a post on triathlon vs. plain old running training?”

I’ve actually thought a lot about this, because the two forms of training are so different.

My first love is running and as is the case with any first love, you want to “do” it all the time. Plus, logistically it is way easier to just run than to try to plan even workouts in running, biking and swimming. Not even to mention the gear involved in doing all three sports. Don’t even get me started on swim paddles, CO2 cartridges, tubes, towels, goggles, fins, and swim diapers. The planning for this type of training is ridiculous.

That said, like with anything, you get into a groove. Preparation is everything. Every Saturday I sit down with my calendar and various half ironman training plans. I come up with a time goal for the week and the types of run, bike, swim workouts I want to incorporate. I put it all into a fancy red and yellow spreadsheet and hang it on the wall. I put an extra copy in my gym bag in a Ziploc bag so I can have it with me when I swim.

The gym bag is essential. It makes grabbing and going at 6am much easier. Inside I have: two bathing suits, two pairs of goggles, iPod, iPod case, Clif bars, water bottle, towel, paddles, workout plan, pasties, thongs, etc.

As far as “do I miss the days when I just ran?” the answer is “sometimes.”

  1. There is something very pure and simple about training for just one sport and putting all of your energy into excelling at that one thing.
  2. Running feeds my soul. At the beginning of half ironman training in May I had a tough mentally (and physically) giving up some of my running and replacing it with swimming and biking. At first I did not enjoy those activities as much. However, as time has gone by and I’ve gotten stronger on the bike and in the pool and I’ve gotten more acquainted with those types of workouts, I’ve really embraced the multi sport thing.
  3. My body has adapted to the increased training hours and the variety of workouts, as our amazing bodies will. When you only run, you only use certain muscle groups, so adding in biking and swimming has created muscle, tone and strength in new and interesting areas!

I’m sure I’ll keep doing triathlons after this, but not at all sure I will do a long distance one again. This is purely because of the amount of training time and planning involved. If all I had to do everyday was train, that would be one thing. But I have two jobs, two kids, volunteer work and marriage to tend to as well. I’m sure my friends would like to see me one day again too.

And, to be honest, I miss my friend, the marathon. We need to get re-acquainted again soon. We might have a date in the fall.

When you shift your training and you are not running as much (either due to injury, time off, or other training goals) how does it affect you mentally and physically?

Now that I’m deep into my HIM training, my physical and mental well being is spot on. I still run enough to get that runner’s release, but am enjoying the challenge of the other disciplines. It feels good to be doing something different and to be challenging myself in a new way.



  1. Thanks for answering my question! It made my day :)Everything you said makes sense...and I'm glad to hear you feel stronger in all areas of your triathlon training and still satisfying your runner's soul. That's definitely more of how I see you - as a runner at heart!

  2. The only way to get your voice back is vocal rest (i.e., no talking). This would be impossible for me- so when you talk, try not to 'whisper' but just use whatever is left of your "normal" voice. Believe it or not whispering is actually harder on your voice than talking when things are all inflamed/sick...
    Signed, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Running Speech Language Pathologist :)

  3. Resting the voice is the fastest way to get it back :)

    Did my first triathlon last night! It was fun but, sheesh, my bike seat got all wet and I look really, really bad in a swimcap (doesn't everybody?). The good thing is it was a micro-tri and so required zero training. The bad thing is I am not even nearly in as incredible shape as YOU!

    I now get bummed and cranky if I don't do SOMEthing.

    Hope you're able to yell again soon!

  4. sadly just plain old shutting up is the cure to getting back to shouting. bleh.

  5. Triathlons are actually my main love and I feel like somethings missing if I only do running. I find that even if I'm training for a run event I still through in some swimming and cycling, it helps keep my knees healthy and pain free! This could be because running is my weakest sport. I do see how it takes extra time and prep though if I need to fit in a workout in a hurry I just go for a run! good luck!

  6. So - another question within the larger question.

    Having found yourself doing alternative training activities to running, either by injury or by choice, which do you think is the best cross-training activity during a running training cycle? Swimming or cycling? When you go back to a marathon-training plan, if you had to choose only one as a cross-training tool, which would you choose?

  7. I choose triathlons because of the variety. Once I complete my half iron next year I suspect I'll stick with Olympic or Sprint distances from then on. To stay in shape and have some fun.

  8. Peppermint.
    I lose my voice a lot and peppermints (even the ones from Pizza Hut) clear me up quickly.
    Maybe they will freshen up your farts too!

  9. I feel cycling really makes my running stronger, as it uses complementary muscles.

  10. Hi there! I'm one of your newer followers and have really enjoyed your blog so far!!

    I am competing in my first marathon in January 2011 so I'm looking to gain tips/ideas from the people who have the best experience like yourself. I look forward to following you on your journey. Hope you can join me for mine as well!

  11. I would die without my voice! Shutting up is not my forte!

    I have found there's a difference between not getting your workouts in because of injury or other unplanned life events, versus plain old tapering. I suffered from some "unplanned taper madness" a couple weeks ago - I was a mess. I was angry, bitchy, mean, and just a general wreck. And then it took some SERIOUS will power to get back into it.

    When I taper I get crazy - hyper, silly, wired, wild, out of control - most people want to kill me, because I'm too hyper for them to handle...then I got out and run for a few miles, and I feel great. And it's usually one of my best runs!

  12. The gains made in one discipline cross-pollinate into the other disciplines for sure.

  13. Awesome that you have found a good balance, where you feel strong AND sane! I really can't imagine juggling other disciplines... "what do you mean I can't fun 60 miles a week??"

    Hope you get your voice back soon!

  14. Nice post. I feel like loser with only one job one spouse and one sport. How's the hip btw?

  15. remedies: BRAGGS ACV 2 tbs in water. nasty but it works

  16. a spoonful of honey is naturally antibacterial and antibiotic-al

  17. pre-record all the jokes you want to yell at golfers. Rig up some type of sound system. CRANK VOLUME UP!! chuckle silently to save your voice as you hit play and set up repeat.

  18. Here is my thought on this: I am a runner first but as triathlon has entered into my life I have become a triathlete who relishes his runs. I look at my training and see those run days and enjoy them that much more because they don't happen as often.

  19. A wonderful write up on how you transitioned from just running to multi sport. Once you set your goal and you know you have to get better at other sports to accomplish that goal, both mind and body accept the challenge and learn to enjoy it.

    If I have to miss out on my running plans due to injury or other circumstance, I don't take it well. I get very bitchy and resent hearing about other peoples training runs when I can't get out there.