Jul 18, 2014
Training for my first Ironman-distance Triathlon: Part 2
In the second post of our new blog series, Vasu gives a brief overview of her training and nutrition, the injuries that set her back, and the spirit that keeps her going.
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I follow a strict training schedule stipulated for the Ironman distance. I train six days a week. The prescribed off day is Friday, but since the local pools are closed on Mondays, I have switched our off days to Monday. I train a minimum of 9 hrs /week to 16.5 hrs/ week.
The average workout day doesn’t look daunting: the easiest day is a half-hour swim. Then there are brick workouts – a workout when you do two disciplines of the three in the triathlon. So that might be a 45 min swim followed by a 30 min run. The hardest days are the weekends, Sunday specifically. Due to less traffic on the roads, Sunday is the best day for long bike rides. In the initial months of training, Sundays would include a 3.5 hour bike ride, which increases to 5.5 hr bike ride followed by a 30 min run, and peaking at 5.5 hr bike ride, 1 hr swim, and 1.5 hr run, back to back. It might not sound like much, but 6-10 months of doing this every day leads to cumulative fatigue, when it is tiring even to sit up.
I started training in October last year, and my training path has been really odd. I have come to believe that the first phase of training is discovering everything you can do wrong. So it has been for me. November I fell off my bicycle (entirely on my own), got six injuries. Everyone refused to look at it. I just left it covered after a while until I got a yelling from a friend for not having the dressing refreshed. I couldn’t lift my shoulder, so had to be assisted in dressing and undressing. So many people took off my clothes in those first few days, that I just gave up. Go ahead folks, my body is a public highway. After the outward injuries healed, I discovered my thumb had a ligament tear in it, which laid me off training for six months.
I was scheduled for Abu Dhabi International Triathlon short distance in March (1.5 km swim, 100 km bike ride, 10 km run). I went to it with skeletal training. I didn’t stop once on the bike leg and did it slower than I’d anticipated, but I did it. My family friends in Dubai worked around my schedule, got me there at 5 am, checked my stickers, nutrition, bike, my sleeping and eating needs. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Diet and nutrition
Just as important as the training is the diet and nutrition. I have tried a variety of diets, and am still learning. When you push your body past the limits of your current endurance, you have to be very careful to make sure it has all the fluids and nutrition it needs. I suspect I eat less than I should. While it is prescribed that you eat 5-6 times a day, I can only manage twice a day. We need to drink 5-10 liters per day, and I can drink one liter now in a single gulp. Food is not about savoring it as much as it is to getting it down as quickly as possible. I don’t take any grains anymore – no wheat, no rice. Lots of water, recovery drink, green tea, juices, coconut water. I’ll go more in detail in other posts.
Rest and Recovery
We also discover adequate sleep and recovery periods for the body are critical. If I don’t get proper sleep I pass out. At first my mother was frantic. She’d call six times in a row, “why aren’t you picking up!?” Now she knows to leave me alone until I surface. She doesn’t try and wake me anymore – she has seen how exhausted I get.
My profession has its pros and cons regarding my training. The good news is, I don’t go offsite to work everyday, being a standup comedian. The challenging news is, I travel, and that disrupts my training some. It is particularly challenging when I get back from a show at 2 am, and have to get up at 4 am to train. So if you are not a morning person, you are going to be.
Read more about why Vasu decided to enter the Ironman-distance triathlon here
About Vasu Primlani: Vasu Primlani is a standup comedian, host, corporate trainer, triathlete, and a highly celebrated environmentalist. She teaches sustainability in business schools, and teaches rock climbing. She will be participating in her first full Ironman in September of this year.