- How did you get started as a triathlon trainer?
- How important is proper training? While many people can probably train for a marathon or long bike ride by themselves are triathlons that much different?
- How important is the equipment that someone uses in taking it to the next level?
- Triathlons have seen a rise in popularity in the last decade, so do you think this is because more people are interested in pushing the bounds of what they can do?
- Finally, what do you recommend for the first timer?
KineticShift: How did you get started as a triathlon trainer?
Regina Hammond: It was inevitable since I had wanted to be a triathlete since I was in junior high school. I was a competitive swimmer from 5th grade through 12th, but excelled in track and cross country. I competed in cross country through college and upon graduation began racing duathlons. I was successful in my age group so I began to look for triathlon clubs in NYC. It’s hard to imagine, but in the mid-90’s there was only one or two triathlon clubs and you had to know the right person to be invited to join. Since I didn’t find much support in that community, I focused on bike racing and spent five years racing all over New England for stage races and Cyclocross. I also raced the track. I loved commuting around Manhattan and riding to races in Brooklyn and New Jersey. Due to life changes and such, I had to stop racing bikes and finally found my way to long course triathlon. It only took eight years for the triathlon community to explode in NYC. I love triathlon, but I also love each individual sport since I competed in each one as a single sport athlete. I think I have an advantage as a coach, versus learning triathlon and then becoming a triathlon coach. This is because, for example, I have been able to immerse my self in each sport to the point, that I know each one as a cyclist, runner, and swimmer. I can also relate to clients that have a background in one of the three sports and want to make the move to all three. The art of knowing how train for triathlon as one sport comes with experience.
KS: How important is proper training? While many people can probably train for a marathon or long bike ride by themselves are triathlons that much different?
RH: It depends upon the distance and the athletes expectations. A sprint distance triathlon [750 m (0.47 mile) swim, 20 km (12.4 miles) bike, 5k (3.1 mile) run] is very manageable for most people if they do not have any health conditions. If the person just wants to cross the finish line, they can even walk the 5k. Of course, we always recommend and prefer is a client who has some general fitness to prevent injury when they begin to train for all three sports. Many clients we work with do some of their workouts alone and some with a group. Since each person we work with has a custom training plan with specific workouts depending upon their fitness level, strengths and weaknesses, some of their workouts should be done solo. As fitness increases, many ride with local cycling clubs once a week for the camaraderie, but then focus on ironman cycling fitness (or whichever distance they are training for) during their other workouts. It’s difficult to cover skills, cardiovascular and strength fitness for three sports, which is why we create custom plans for people.
KS: How important is the equipment that someone uses in taking it to the next level?
RH: Depends on which level you are referring to. If someone is winning their age group in each race they enter and are sponsored by Specialized, then by all means get a new bike! However, most age group athletes do not need to consider equipment in terms of reaching the next level. Instead, they should focus on how their equipment fits. Instead of paying for a $5,000 bike, they should find a bike that is actually under $3,000 and pay for a professional bike fit, a pool membership, heart rate monitor with GPS, and coach. The one tool we always recommend is a power-meter. A power meter clarifies the gray line that sometimes gets clouded when an athlete is over-reaching or over-trained. Heart rate monitors are helpful, but for cycling specific feedback, the data provided by a power-meter is invaluable.
KS: Triathlons have seen a rise in popularity in the last decade, so do you think this is because more people are interested in pushing the bounds of what they can do?
RH: I think people love a challenge and thrive on having goals to achieve, so in some respects, yes, people want to push themselves. The Ironman brand is a good example of that. They have created an almost mythical vibe that people are drawn to. How can you not be inspired to want to hear “You are an Ironman” when crossing a finish line? People need a stimulus to get them off the couch or ‘find their inner calling’ that is sometimes lost as we live the grind of real life. There is a smaller percentage of people who get into multi-sport because they have been chronically injured and have found relief in the cross training that triathlon provides.
KS: Finally, what do you recommend for the first timer?
RH: Find a sprint distance race near where you live that occurs at least 12 weeks from now and register! Find a local club or online forum to get involved in. If you travel a lot for work and it’s difficult to meet for group workouts, consider online coaching. Even a sprint distance race can be overwhelming due to all the gear and logistics involved. We help clients prioritize what they need to do, by clearing away the confusion that comes with spending too much time in triathlon forums.
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