VLT Training Day

So, today I attended the Virgin London Triathlon Training Day – and survived. Victory is mine!

I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I was a bit concerned that the coaches would be pushing us to go harder, faster… which wasn’t what I needed after this week’s hiccup.  I’m also acutely aware that I need to work harder on my weaknesses – swimming and running – and I didn’t need to be pressured in areas I know I need to progress.

I couldn’t have been more wrong – it was a great day (and amazing value at £42 – I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of taking part).

The attendees were divided into four, and my group (of about 20) started with the seminar.  First, we had a talk from someone at Challenger World, who introduced us to the sport, some information about the day (what is and isn’t allowed); then a chat from a Virgin Active personal trainer; then a sports nutritionist from MaxiFuel; and finally from a triathlon personal trainer.  Really interesting stuff, loads of info about kit, nutrition, training, plans, on the day etc.

Next was the swimming.  I was dreading this, having had a bad experience earlier this week.  Once in the water, everyone started to swim – but with my issues with front crawl (more of which later) I did the first drill but with breast stroke.  I spoke to the lady running the session, and she directed my towards a trainer called Simon.  Simon spent half an hour with me, talking me through various elements, and explained that actually, my front crawl technique isn’t bad at all – I just need to sort out my confidence and breathing.  He was excellent, and I am grateful to him – he really helped me.

Out of the wetsuits, then, and on to lunch – a very much needed ham roll and as much Gatorade as you could get down yer neck (are we spotting the sponsors yet?).

Next, the bike.  Sadly, most of the group didn’t bring bikes, but we got loads of info about set-up, kit, training, some brilliant insights and a dollop of humour to boot. Then outside, and those of us with bikes practiced racking and unracking, and running with our bikes before mounting at the mount point (you can’t get on your bike as soon as you take it off the rack – you’d run everyone else in transition over – you have to run with it to the mount point outside of transition, and then get on).  This was a bit odd but I’m glad I tried it – will definitely practice this in the next few weeks.

Finally, on to the run.  Wasn’t looking forward to this, but the trainer was excellent – she taught us how we’re all running pretty badly, and how to improve our technique.  By the end of the session I’d learned a lot, and didn’t feel like a tit because my running isn’t great right now.

Overall, my major learnings from the day were:

  • I need a training plan, STAT, and I *need* to stick to it.  It will focus on my weaknesses, and taper on the week before the race
  • There is time to get up to speed. It’s going to be fine
  • Making the most of your training time is better than training all the time
  • No-one thinks you look silly or are doing it badly because NO ONE ELSE CARES. They’re all too busy worrying about themselves
  • Getting in open water in my wetsuit and swimming at least four times before I participate on the day will give me a huge advantage

I’m really glad I went.  Apparently, the VLT is the biggest Tri event in the world, with nearly 13,000 people taking part this year; it’s also where most beginners do their first triathlon.  I am, therefore, in great company.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to rest my weary limbs…

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