In many parts of the country we are still waiting for spring to arrive, although in certain other parts, summer seems to be here already. But whatever part we live in, as tri/duathletes, whatever we have done or not done over the winter, we are now getting back into regular exercise. We know that to be a successful tri- or duathlete at any level, we have to train/exercise regularly throughout the season. Many years ago, toward the beginning of my 30-plus years in multisport racing and as a writer on the subject I put together what I call the "Basic Eight of Regular Exercise." They certainly have helped me to keep on truckin', and given some thought, they might help you too.
1. The hard part of regular exercise is the regular, not the exercise. Believe me, I know, and live this principle very well. There are surely those mornings (and I work out in the morning) when man, I just don’t feel like getting out there. But I do know just how important getting out there is. While I do take a very occasional day off (like I did just this morning), most of the time I do get out there, and then guess what? Ten minutes into the workout I’m very glad that I did.
2. The best exercise routine for you is the exercise routine that is best for you. There are numerous choices. One size does not fit all. This applies to multisport racing as well as to training for it. There are so many articles that say “do it this way, and you are sure to ...” Well, maybe, and, as I have said so many times, it all depends what your goals are, and they may very well not be the goals of that particular writer.
3. There are many reasons for exercising regularly, other than for race training. Most folks who do it will tell you that the most important ones are that regular exercise makes you feel better and feel better about yourself, as well as making you look better and look better to yourself. Those are certainly my principle reasons, even though as a preventive medicine doc I know that there are plenty of health-promoting reasons to do it, too.
4. Indeed, regular exercise can: reduce your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, certain kinds of cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis (bone softening associated with aging), being overweight and even depression and chronic anxiety. There are no guarantees here, but the risk goes down for getting all of these major illnesses. It's also very helpful in managing many of the same conditions.
5. Gradual change leads to permanent changes: don't try to do too much too soon, either in your training or your racing, both over the course of a season and over the course of several seasons.
6. Explore your limits; recognize your limitations. I learned this lesson very early on, in my first race as it happens. I was pretty sure that I was going to be pretty slow, and I focused on, as I like to say, finishing happily and healthily (and relatively slowly too!). That first one, the Mighty Hamptons held in Sag Harbor, New York, on Sept. 17, 1983, in the days before standardized distances, was what today would be called an Olympic-plus: a 1 1/2-mile swim, 25-mile bike and 10-mile run. I worked up my distances gradually and it wasn’t until almost two years to the day that I did my first IRONMAN, the old Cape Cod Endurance.
7. Effective mobilization of your motivation is the key to long-term success, first as a regular exerciser and then as a multisport racer. (We’ll be getting back to this key to exercising regularly in one or more future columns.)
8. We can never be perfect; we can always get better. If you can embed this one in your mind, you can have a long and successful (for you) career in tri/duathlon, regardless of your speed or athletic ability.
This series of thoughts and recommendations about multisport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, "101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes" (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Steve’s most recent multisport book is "Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It" (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
His first book on multisport racing, "Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®" 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.