Whether it is your first or fifth race, training for a triathlon can be difficult. Without the knowledge of a professional coach and the motivation of teammates, maintaining a training program is a challenge.
Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club in Denver, Colorado, launched its own triathlon training program to help members become race ready.
Cyndie Gillingham coaches the triathlon team and her extensive experience with racing helps her craft a training regimen. After taking a triathlon training course in college and getting her personal training certification, Gillingham began competing in sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.
“I never raced on a pro-level or anything,” said Gillingham. “I was always amateur, but with my background in personal training it was easy to transfer my excitement and passion of doing triathlons to coaching.”
At Greenwood, members and non-members are welcome to join the team, whether they plan to compete in a triathlon or not.
Kelsey Totura was looking for a way to spice up her workout regimen and she thought the triathlon program at Greenwood seemed like the perfect way to do so.
“Working out after a while can get boring if you don’t have a goal,” said Totura. “I had done swimming and running and I thought I could learn how to bike. I figured Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club was the best of the best and the instructors were great, so it seemed like the perfect fit.”
The team officially began meeting in May, however starting in February, Gillingham encouraged members to begin base training. “I will email them and ask where they are and what they are doing,” she said. “I want them to be getting easy miles like riding the bike for an hour, running for an hour, swimming for 30 minutes, etc.”
When the formal training program begins, the team meets three times a week for 12 weeks. The first six weeks of training focuses on speed and tempo workouts, and the second six weeks prepares team members to be race ready.
According to Totura, participating in the program made training for a triathlon much more accessible. “I think you could probably follow a plan on the Internet, but it is a lot different when you have instructors with you,” she explained. “Plus training with other people made it a million times better.”
Even though the program is only four months long, Gillingham continues to work with members one-on-one for off-season training. However, she thinks group training might be the most beneficial.
“A lot of people have that natural competitive edge,” said Gillingham. “Even if they don’t vocalize it, they want to keep up with the person next to them. I feel like having a team that you are a part of makes you a better athlete because you have someone else who is going for it with you, that you can relate to and feed off each other’s energy.”
By Emily Harbourne