Beginning tri training, week 8: Make your goal concrete

Credit: Mike Hewitt/Allsport
You're more than a third of the way to the goal. In a couple of weeks you'll be halfway to the goal.

You could probably do a 1.5km/40km/10km triathlon right now and survive. In a dozen more weeks, though, you'll be able to do one and feel great the whole way.


Hope. This is what sustains us. None of us are what we aspire to be. It's the aspiring that keeps us moving forward.

There is an object to our hope. We don't hope in general, but in the particular. The more concrete and achievable the object of our hope, the more energy we spend toward realizing it.

This is at least one reason we like to race. It gives us a point in the future on which our hope can focus. The race is a celebration of our journey, and a fixed point along the route where we can take stock, and perhaps refocus on a new goal further up the road.

I do not write all this as a philosophical exercise. My point, and my accompanying question, is this: Did you enter the darn race yet?

It's frustrating to spend all this time working toward a goal just to find out you can't get in the race. Triathlons are not like footraces. You cannot assume you can show up the day of -- or even the day before -- the race and pay your money and get your number. Sometimes they close months in advance. Fish out your credit card and go online and enter.

The other nice thing about being entered is that you've got an extra, external motivator to help move you toward the goal. Like riding your bike along in the draft, these symbolic steps can help move you along. If you see enough arrows -- those which are external and those inside you -- pointing you in the direction of your goal, you'll get caught up in the current and move easily toward the ultimate day.

Are you planning on becoming a member of triathlon's national organization, USA Triathlon? It'll cost you $25 per year, and an application can be found at

Doing this kind of stuff knits you into the family of triathletes. You may not be fitter when you pay your annual dues, but you'll feel fitter, because -- at least in your own mind -- you've taken another step toward becoming a "bona fide triathlete."


We're going to make a change in our approach starting this week. You'll now start doing some workouts in which you'll be able to get your arms around the entire distance of each leg. You'll start to visualize how you can make it through the swim, the bike, and the run.

We'll start with the swim. You've been doing a total of several hundred to a couple of thousand yards per workout. This week I want one of your swim workouts to include one straight swim -- i.e., a swim that is done without rest -- that is two-thirds of the total yardage of your average swim workout.

So, if you've been averaging 1,200 yards in your swim workout, I want you to do one straight 800-yard swim (in the pool) this week. Or, go longer if you think you can. Go 1,000 yards.

Time yourself, but don't try to go particularly fast. I want you to set a benchmark time, but the most important thing is to go the distance. And, as I say above, by all means do this in the pool, not in the open water. You don't want to try to set any distance records without having a wall to hang onto if you find that your ability falls a little short of your workout goal.

  • Swimming: 3 or 4 sessions x 800 - 2,500 yards per session; 1 session should be a long, straight swim
  • Cycling: 1 or 2 sessions of 60 minutes each; 1 ride of 30-40 miles
  • Running: 2 or 3 sessions x 25-35 minutes per session; 1 x 60 minutes

Ready to catch the swim-bike-run bug? Check out our Give it a Tri section

Find and register online for your first triathlon!

Check out the full beginning tri-training guide

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