NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Water Fitness: How to Get Better at Swimming

ThinkstockPhotos-103584574.jpgIn my previous blog on swimming, I talked about the vast benefits that can come from adding lap swimming into your off-season workout regimen. But maybe you are already comfortable in the pool and swim on a regular basis; wouldn’t you like to get better and become more efficient in your stroke? By taking small steps to improve the different components that make up the specific strokes, you can become a better swimmer in a decently short amount of time.

Focus on Form

As other sports, form tends to be one of the key players in overall success. Each stroke has a certain form that will allow the swimmer to be more efficient. Take some time to research the different strokes that you like to do and learn the correct form. Whatever swim stroke you happen to choose, the different pieces will consist of breathing, kicking, arm movement, location of chest and hips in the water, and what you do with your hands, feet, and ankles. I know it seems like a lot to think about, but you may really benefit by simply understanding what the stroke should look like.

Breathe More Efficiently

Breathing tends to be one of the hardest elements of a swimmer’s performance. Getting the breathing technique down right takes time, practice, and patience. Master breathing by using a kickboard or holding onto the side of the pool before combining it with the actual stroke and movement in the water. You also will need to learn your breathing cycle—for example, if I am swimming freestyle, do I need to take a breath every three or four strokes? You may need to learn to breathe on both sides and be able to turn your head to the left and right to get air.

Learn the Body Roll

This movement is used specifically in freestyle. Have you ever seen someone swimming freestyle (on their stomach) and when it’s time to take a breath, they pick their entire head up out of the water? The body roll will allow you to efficiently roll your upper body (and partially through the hips) to get air so that only part of your head is not in the water. This movement can be learned easily using different pool equipment like a pull buoy.

Slow Down

We all have the tendency, when getting into the pool to do some laps, to go a million miles an hour. Whether or not you mean to do it, you will quickly be made aware that you need to slow down because your breathing will remind you! Take your time, be patient, and learn the proper technique in every stroke by putting your foot on the break. You will be amazed, when you slow down the pace a little bit, at how long you can actually swim!

Develop an Efficient Kick

Another great way to improve your overall swimming skills is to learn the different kicks that go along with the various strokes. Each kick has specifics in how far to pull your heel back, how big of a splash you should be making, how far below the surface you want your hips and legs to be, etc. Utilize a kickboard or the wall, as you do in learning to breathe right, to master the different kicks.

Utilize Equipment

There are so many great tools out there to help you learn to swim better. Utilize things like kickboards to improve your breathing and kicking, pull buoys to work on your stroke, and fins to work through power kicks and master the body roll. At most pools you will usually see hand paddles to work on power in the pulling motion to propel you through the water faster, and maybe even gloves that have webbed fingers. All of these things will allow you to work on certain pieces of form one at a time.

Learn the Turns

When I was younger, I spent hours in the pool trying to learn how to do the flip turn. And while many think it’s simply “cool,” the flip turn happens to make your swim efficiency shoot through the roof. This move will also take some time to learn, but if you are patient and work on the timing of the flip turn, your lap swimming will soon be quicker.

Watch and Evaluate

Do not be afraid to have someone watch you and evaluate the different strokes you are working on. Often someone outside the water can easily tell if you are kicking too hard, slapping the water during your stroke, or not efficiently breathing. Take some time to have someone watch and give you tips to work on.

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While this can seem like an overwhelmingly large list of things to work on, just choose one thing at a time. Each small tweak will make a huge impact on your overall swimming performance.

Remember Natatorium lap swimming is now free with your NIFS Membership! Learn More.

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This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: fitness equipment swimming workout sports

Swimming in the Off Season: A Great Workout

ThinkstockPhotos-77738803.jpegNothing sounds more dreadful to me than putting on my suit to jump into the pool to do some lap swimming on a sub-20-degree winter day (unless, of course, it’s a belly-smacker challenge—then I’m in!). But with the vast benefits that come from swimming, the draw tends to be a little bit enticing (and here are some ideas for finding motivation to swim). When you are looking for what to do with your workouts over the off season, consider giving swimming a try.

Benefits of Swimming

Swimming can offer more benefits than I have time to list, but let’s take a look at what I think the top 6 are. And if swimming really isn’t your thing, keep on reading; I’ll share some other pool workout ideas that don’t involve lap swimming.

  1. Builds endurance, strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Considered to be one of the greatest total-body workouts, swimming covers pretty much all the basics that you might want in a workout.
  2. Helps build bone mass and tone muscles. While many think that because swimming is non-weight-bearing, bone density cannot increase, studies have shown differently. Swimming also helps to tone muscles of the body just like strength training does.
  3. Gets heart rate up without the impact on the joints. Most exercises that are cardio based like running and biking take some serious impact on the joints. “Taking the weight off” in the pool allows you to get the blood flowing through your body without the impact from your body that you get from other cardiovascular exercise methods.
  4. Aids in flexibility. With the repetitive stretching that takes place in the different swimming strokes, you can increase flexibility through swimming laps on a regular basis.
  5. Promotes high caloric burn. Depending on the intensity, duration, and stroke, swimming can burn equal to or more calories than going for a run.
  6. Good for the psyche. Like all exercise, swimming releases endorphins into your body, which bring those feel-good emotions. With the stretching that takes place during the strokes along with the rhythmic breathing, swimming can actually help you to relax.

Natatorium Lap Swimming is Now Included in Your NIFS Membership*!

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Other Water Workouts

Maybe you never really learned how to swim, or the water intimidates you. Don’t worry; there are plenty of other water exercises that you can do to get yourself into the pool and comfortable in the water without sacrificing a good workout. To name a few, you can try water aerobics, treading water, step in water (this is like a step class where risers are put into the bottom of the pool), aqua jogging, lap walking, and shallow-water runs.

Take some time to explore the Natatorium pool! NIFS now offers unlimited use of lap swimming at the IUPUI Natatorium (*eligible members only, see details). See the NIFS service desk to get started, and take your off-season training to a new level!

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: NIFS cardio motivation swimming stretching relaxation

Triathlon Swimming Training: Tips from NIFS

tri.jpgFor many triathlon participants, the swim is the most difficult discipline. Open-water swimming is different than following the black line on the bottom of a pool. Here are some tips to help the swim portion of the race go more smoothly.

Get Good Equipment

Get a good suit and goggles (there are specific ones for different face shapes). Spend some extra money and get advice from a good swim shop.

Get Help with Form, Drills, and Workouts

You need to make sure your stroke is efficient and repeatable, so that you will be confident in the race. Here are a few drills to get you started. Most of your swim workouts will include a drill set. Pick from the variety of drills here:

  • Catch-up Freestyle: Promotes better rotation and arm-stroke mechanics.
    Start by kicking facedown with both arms extended in front of you. After 3-4 seconds, perform a complete pull with one arm and rotate fully to that side. Immediately rotate back on your belly and catch up to the forward arm with the arm that just pulled. Kick for 3-4 seconds and then pull with the other arm and rotate.
  • Count Stroke: Helps to improve overall stroke efficiency.
    Count the number of strokes you take while swimming one complete length of the pool with normal freestyle. Try to lower the number of strokes taken in each length. You will achieve this by taking longer, more powerful pulls, rotating more, and allowing yourself to glide a little bit. Feel free to exaggerate these elements in order to decrease the stroke count.
  • Fingertip Drag: Promotes complete arm extension and proper hand position in the release.
    Swim a normal freestyle stroke, except consciously drag your fingertips across the surface of the water during the recovery phase.
  • Fist: Helps with shoulder rotation and increases pull. 
    Swim with your fists clenched. This drill helps with rotation and working on the elbow bend in the catch portion of the arm cycle in order to create a powerful “paddle” for the pull.
  • Bilateral Breathing: Practice breathing on both sides.
    Most triathletes are only able to breathe to one side while swimming, but breathing on the non-dominant side is very important during a triathlon (and during training, too!). Swim your normal freestyle stroke while breathing on every third stroke (right-left-right) instead of every second or fourth (right or left only). Stick with it and you’ll steadily improve.
  • Sighting: Simulates race-day skills. 
    Sighting is an important skill when you swim in open water without lane lines to guide you. It consists of modifying your swim stroke to look ahead and spot a landmark to aim toward. In a normal freestyle stroke, you turn your head directly to one side to inhale and then turn your head back to a neutral position with your eyes looking toward the bottom. When you sight, you instead turn your head to look forward to spot a landmark, inhale, then put your face back in the water. When practicing, swim normally and sight every 4 to 6 strokes.

Practice in Open Water

This is important! The pool is great for getting in mileage and form work, but the dark water with no lane lines can add stress to race day. Try to find a open swim area to practice sighting and getting used to swimming in a straight line.

Do Plenty of Mileage

If your race is 500 meters, make sure you can do almost twice the distance. In the beginning that may seem like a lot, but you will be much more comfortable on race day if you are always doing extra work beforehand.

Train with Others in Your Lane (or in Your Way)

This is important if you cannot get to open water. During a race there are often fellow racers swimming by, over, or near you. Have someone swim next to you and occasionally hit you, splash you, or harass you. This will help you focus on your stroke, focus on breathing to the opposite side, and get you ready for all challenges on race day.

If you’re ready to train for a triathlon, check out NIFS’s Go Girl Tri-Training Program. Training is Tuesday nights starting 6/21 at 5:30 pm. All experience levels are welcome. Training options include race entry for the Go Girl Sprint Triathlon at Eagle Creek park on August 27, 2016!


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This blog was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: NIFS equipment workouts swimming triathlon NIFS programs

TRI a New Challenge This Summer—NIFS Triathlon Training Can Help!

tri-1.jpgThere are so many different types of races out there to challenge yourself with this summer. Maybe you are signed up for a Spartan Race, a trail run, or a half marathon; but have you ever considered giving a triathlon a shot? If you haven’t done one before, I can say from first-hand experience: they are challenging, but very fun!

Triathlon is the combination of swimming, biking, and running. Now most of us would say, “Okay the last two don’t sound too bad…but no way, I am not a good swimmer.” One of the biggest deterrents keeping people from going out for a tri is the swim aspect. It is true that for most this is the most intimidating part, but just like the other two events, you just have to practice and get comfortable with it! Let’s take a quick look at the three events.

Swim

The length of the tri you sign up for will determine the distance you have to swim. The swim portion is done in open water (Tri Indy does theirs in the downtown canal, and Go Girl has their swim at Eagle Creek Park). Most people are not able to train in open water, but get into the pool as much as you can before the race. Find a training plan to follow, making sure that you are getting both distance and speed work, as well as drills, in your swimming sessions. Also, if you do not have any experience in swimming, I would suggest getting a lesson or two to learn proper breathing, strokes, and efficiency in the water.

Bike

The bike portion of the triathlon is done on the road. And like the swim, the distance will depend on what race you sign up for. A common misconception is that you have to go out and spend $2,000 on a great road bike. When race day comes, you will see every shape and size of bikes! The important thing to remember is, before getting out on your bike, to make sure it’s tuned up and in good shape to ride. Then practice running with it for the transitions, ride different distances and speeds, practice shifting gears, and just get comfortable using it.

Run

For many, next to swimming this may be one of the most challenging elements of the race. Just think you have already swum and biked, and now you have to get off and run! In the beginning your legs feel like jello and your body is telling you that you can’t possibly put one foot in front of the other and keep going. But you can do it! During your training, get in some longer runs and be sure to practice some bike-then-run days as well.

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Seems like it could be a lot, but thousands of people finish triathlons every year around the world. Make 2016 your year to scratch that off the list. There are training programs out there: get one, follow it, and finish that race!

TRI-HEADER-pink.jpgATTENTION WOMEN: If you are interested in completing the 2016 Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek, we have a triathlon training program at NIFS!

Early Bird Registration is happening now! Sign up before May 21st and save $10 off training!

 

This blog was written by Amanda Bireline, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: running swimming triathlon summer biking

Are You Ready to Race a Triathlon?

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Topics: exercise running swimming triathlon race competition biking

Finding the Motivation to Swim Pays Off!

swim-blognewYou have heard it over and over again: If you are not swimming, you are missing out on a great low-impact, total-body workout. If you were sore from beating yourself up from running on the roads or lifting earlier in the week, you will find yourself feeling much better after a good swim.

If you are like me, though, swimming is not your first choice of exercise, and you find it hard to find the motivation to get to the pool when there are so many other options that you find more enjoyable. 

I am fortunate enough to have a great group of ladies who are committed to heading over to the IU Natatorium twice a week to get in a good swim session. Swimming is not my favorite fitness activity, but it has grown on me and I know that it has great health and fitness benefits*. So I have convinced myself that I need to do it! Even though we are all very committed and consistent with our swimming, we still try to talk each other out of it.

Common discussion and thoughts before and on our way to the pool:

  • Are we really going? Why are going? What if we just go run or bike or lift or do yoga instead?
  • I can’t go today. I just went spray tanning.
  • I think Starbucks is open?
  • Cold walk all the way over there! Can we go to the steam room, sauna, or whirlpool instead (or before)? 
  • I really shouldn’t even go until I get my new suit, which will be on its way as soon as I order it.
  • Wait, should we check to see if the pool is closed today?
  • Am I out of visits? Too bad if I am, because I don’t have my wallet.
  • Oh no, there are no empty lanes. Maybe we should do this another time?
  • The water is so cold…is this colder than it usually is? Why are we doing this? Can we go get coffee instead? It’s not too late!
  • Is the warm pool open today?
  • We have been sitting here with our feet in for 15 minutes. If we don’t get in soon, we will have to leave.
What we are thinking during the workout:
  • What is the workout again? 
  • If I can get through this, I can have coffee after.
  • This is hard. I can’t breathe. My arms are tired. Why I am not getting better?
  • I kind of need to use the restroom…I think I can hold it…I better just hold it.
  • Why do I do this to myself?
  • This pool got really hot all of the sudden.
  • Wow, I’m getting better at this! I am fast!
What we talk about and think about after:
  • That was great! I feel so much better than I did before we started.
  • I am awesome!
  • When are we coming back this week?
  • What is our next workout? I think I need more speed work next week.
  • I really need to buy longer fins and a new swim cap.
  • I am going to sleep good tonight.
  • I can’t wait for this warm shower and lunch.
  • Why do we complain so much? I now understand why people have a hard time committing to exercise. But it feels great at the end!
  • Another one in the books!*Weight loss claims and/or individual results vary and are not guaranteed.
This blog was written by Stephanie Kaiser, Fitness Center Manager. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

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Topics: motivation swimming accountability nifs staff attitude

Not a Workout Junkie? How About Swimming and Aqua Fitness?

Of course everyone knows that swimming is good for you. But what are the real benefits gained by jumping into the water?

Swimming Burns Tons of Calories147915512

How many, you ask? Well, here are some hard numbers:

Calories burned in 1 hour for a 155-lb. person:

  • Lap swimming, slow: 493 calories
  • Lap swimming, fast: 704 calories
  • 1 hour aqua fitness class: 281 calories
  • We Water jogging: 563 calories
  • Treading water, moderate: 281 calories
  • Treading water, fast: 704 calories

Swimming Works All Muscle Groups

Swimming uses all major muscle groups. Remember, working big muscles burns big calories! This means you are strengthening your arms, legs, shoulders, and glutes, and it gives you a good core workout at the same time.

Swimming Is Low Impact on Your Body

Because you are suspended in the water, your joints don’t take the pounding they would on the ground or treadmill, plus the movement helps increase your range of motion. More range of motion means more muscle worked through that range, and yes, more calories burned!

Swimming Is a Refreshing Workout Any Time of the Year

The water in the competition pool at the Natatorium is kept between 75 and 79 degrees, the back pool is kept at 85 to 88 degrees, and the diving well for aqua fitness classes is kept at 85 to 88 degrees.

In short, there are few exercises that can give you the workout swimming can. If you have not found a love for kettlebells, weight machines, or treadmills, take the plunge and see what swimming can do for you. You may find a whole new workout routine you enjoy and look forward to.

For additional health benefits read this article on Active.com, 9 Good Reasons Why You Should Get in the Pool.

Swim Drills Anyone Can Do

To get you started, here are some great swim drills you can try in the pool.

  • Stroke improvement drills (with pull buoy): The buoy is held above your knees and you work your arms and upper torso. You can also place the buoy at your ankles to feel your core and inner thighs work harder.
  • Kick drills (with or workout fins): Work on the leg/hip action while holding a kickboard. It may be slow without fins, but you get great singular-leg and cardiovascular work.
  • Side stroke: Lying on your side, down arm extended. Works your legs and core. Make sure you switch sides to get balanced work.
  • Intervals, fast length down the pool: Give yourself proper rest time to go fast on the successive intervals. As you improve, add to the number of intervals or go-down-and-back sprints.

If you are interested in swimming as part of triathlon training, check out NIFS' blogs on the topic here.

This blog was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.


Topics: fitness workouts swimming

Shave Time Off Your Tri by Training for Triathlon Transitions

Transitioning has been called the fourth discipline in Kris-new-1triathlon. When you finished your first race and looked at the breakdown of the times for each event, you probably noticed the T1 and T2 times. T1 is the time it took you to go from swimming to the bike, and T2 is the time it took you to go from the bike to the run. Like the swimming, biking, and running training, the transitions should be trained as well. But don’t think you need to spend hours perfecting getting from one event to the next. A good transition can simply be added to the other brick training sessions.

Before the race you need to check where you will be exiting the water and follow this to your bike. You can mark your transition spot with chalk on the ground, with a balloon, or with a bright towel. The transition area looks different when everyone is out on the course. Many athletes have wandered transition areas looking for their gear. Also look at the course from where you will be headed at the end of the bike to your transition spot. You will rack your bike and put your gear down on the side of the bike you will mount from.

Practicing the Swim-to-Bike Transition (T1)

The swim-to-bike transition is often the most difficult transition to practice because of the logistic of getting to the water (pool or lake) and then keeping your bike close to make this practice possible. Instead, you could just practice getting your bike gear on after stepping your feet in water. Putting on socks is often the toughest part of this as you deal with balancing while tired and getting the sock on without getting sand on the sock. Many people will sit on the ground or bring a big bucket to sit on.78810088

During a race I try to dry my feet with the end of my transition towel (placed before the race) or have a small towel to dry the tops of my feet while standing on my transition towel. You do want to make sure not to have any rocks, sand, etc. on your feet as those may cause a blister.

You must have your helmet on and buckled before you get out of transition, so do this first or directly after getting your shoes on. This is also a good time to get a drink of water and have a gel or other nutrition so you don’t have to try to ride and eat.

Once you get off your bike, you will run your bike back into your transition area. Rack your bike as close to where you took it off as possible. This is a rule, but it also helps you be courteous to your fellow triathletes who are racking after you.

If you change your shoes, have the laces open and ready to slip your feet into quickly (baby power can help with this).

Grab hats, sunglasses, and race belts and put those on as you run out of transition. Again, you could get a drink or nutrition if you need it. The gels or chews can be pinned on your race belt to have along the course.

Practicing the Bike-to-Run Transition (T2)179659833

The bike-to-run transition is easy to set up and a nice way to do some race preps the day or two before a race. Follow these steps:

  1. Set your bike against a wall or car, WITH THE SIDE YOU WANT TO GET ON YOUR BIKE FACING OUT.
  2. Place your shoes, helmet, hat, race belts, sunglasses, etc. near the bike.
  3. Figure out in what order you will put on your bike gear and practice it. Put on your helmet, socks, shoes, etc.
  4. Grab your bike and RUN, HOLDING THE BIKE WITH THE OUTSIDE HAND (no need to run with two hands on the stem) to your marked start point
  5. Get on your bike.
  6. Ride a short distance (less than a mile).
  7. Get off your bike at your marked spot and run your bike back to your setup spot.
  8. Take off your helmet, change shoes (if necessary), grab anything you want for the run, and run a short distance, getting into a nice rhythm.
  9. Repeat as many times as you need to feel confident.

Putting in a little transition practice time during your regular workouts will help you cut your total time in your triathlon. As you are trying to beat your time from before, this will help more than you realize.

NIFS’ Tri-Training for Women triathlon training program has recently begun. Find the details here.

This blog was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.

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Topics: running group training swimming triathlon cycling training

Top 10 Reasons to TRI a Triathlon This Year

Have you ever thought about training for and doing a triathlon? This is a great time to start getting ready for it, and here are some reasons why you should!

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  1. Never a boring day. You can swim one day, bike another day, and run another; then rest and do it all over again.
  2. The pool is warm (76+ degrees) when it’s cold outside.
  3. Cycling inside (in a group fitness class or on a bike trainer) is a great way to start to build your aerobic fitness base.
  4. Running outside on a warm winter day is peaceful.
  5. The outdoor training gear is awesome at keeping you dry and warm; plus it looks good, too!
  6. Gear is ON SALE NOW!
  7. The NIFS Triathlon Training Program is fun, educational, and great preparation for triathletes of all levels. NIFS runs co-ed and women’s-only training programs.
  8. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results: TRY SOMETHING NEW THIS YEAR! Triathlon is the original CrossFit.
  9. Destination triathlons are a great way to get away and still work out.
  10. You can knock doing a triathlon off your bucket list. 

Ready to TRI? NIFS 11-week tri-training program is Tuesday nights starting 6/17 at 5:30p. All experience levels are welcome. This training includes race entry for the Go Girl Triathlon at Eagle Creek Park on August 23, 2014.R19XDP1

Contact Kris for more information either by email or at 317-274-3432 ext 211. Or register online:

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This blog series was written by Kris Simpson BS, ACSM-PT, HFS, personal trainer at NIFS. To read more about Kris and NIFS bloggers click here.

Topics: running group training swimming triathlon cycling NIFS programs

Profile: NIFS Triathlon Training Program Participant Zach Smith

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The annual co-ed NIFS Triathlon Training Program is complete and participants have successfully completed the first triathlons of the season. The participants never cease to amaze all of us here at NIFS. Working hard during the six weeks of training to perfect swimming technique, practice biking on the road, decrease running time, and create smooth transitions between events pays off every year for these athletes. We love hearing from our participants and giving them the limelight, which is why we are showcasing one of our Triathlon Training participants in this blog post.

We are featuring Zach Smith, an avid runner turned triathlete who has an amazing story that is sure to inspire anyone to get out and try his or her first TRI. Take it away, Zach!

NAME: Zach Smith

SHARE YOUR “STORY” OR A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF IN A FEW SENTENCES:

In 2011, I was in Boulder, Colorado, for work and decided to start running to get back in shape thanks in part to my co-worker at the time (who was an avid runner) and the beautiful mountain view. Once I was back in Indy, I just never stopped running. I participated in my first Mini Marathon in 2012. I got connected with NIFS in 2013 through the Mini Training Program and decided I would commit to the six-week Triathlon Training after the Mini was over. Currently, I am a full-time employee at IUPUI, working in the Math Department as Student Services Assistant, and am a part-time graduate student pursuing my Master of Public Affairs (MPA) in Policy Analysis through the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).

NIFS PROGRAMS YOU PARTICIPATED IN: Triathlon Training Program

WHY DID YOU JOIN THIS PROGRAM?

I think anyone who is an avid runner, swimmer, or bicyclist has thought at least once about participating in a triathlon. As a runner, I naturally was ready to take my competitive nature to the next level by conquering a triathlon. However, I had no idea where to begin or how to train for such an event. I saw the “Ready to TRI?” posters at NIFS during the 2013 Mini Training Program and knew that it was exactly what I needed to do to prepare for my first event.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE ENJOYED:

I really enjoyed working with Kris Simpson and Stephanie (Greer) Kaiser at NIFS during this program. Being in a smaller training group, we were able to receive more individual attention during the training and that was extremely helpful. Kris and Steph really knew lots of training and race-day tips, which helped make my first event go smoothly.

SOMETHING YOU HAVE LEARNED OR SOMETHING THAT SURPRISED YOU:

I think for everyone who never swam competitively, the swimming portion of the triathlon can be the most daunting of the three parts. I consider myself an average swimmer and did not swim competitively, but I really enjoyed the swimming training we did on Tuesday nights and my own personal swim training on Fridays. Swimming is such a great exercise and I think most people discount it.

FAVORITE ASPECT OF TRAINING (BIKING, SWIMMING, RUNNING, FAVORITE MEMORY)?

I really enjoyed the biking/running training that we did at Eagle Creek Park. It is such a different feeling biking for 30 to 40 minutes and then getting off and immediately starting to run for 1 to 2 miles. Another plus to training at Eagle Creek was the fact it was where I participated in my first Sprint Triathlon, so I definitely felt more comfortable knowing how the race would be set up beforehand.

WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS HAVE YOU ACHIEVED DURING YOUR TRIATHLON TRAINING?

I think one accomplishment to note that I achieved during the training would have been giving the training participants on road bikes a run for their money on my hybrid bike. I was keeping up with them and sometimes surpassing them on our training rides through the hilly road course of Eagle Creek Park. This definitely set my mind at ease that I would do just fine on race day with my hybrid.

WHAT STRUGGLES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED? TIPS YOU HAVE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY?

In spite of all the swim training I did, swimming in the open water was way different than swimming in the pool. Kris had warned us that there is no “etiquette” out in the water during the race, so I knew people would brush into me and I would brush into others, but it was hard to simulate that in the pool (even though we all would swim next to each other in one pool lane at the same time). My biggest tip is to try and do some open-water swimming prior to your event so you are used to not seeing the bottom and feel comfortable racing in it. I know I had to get my bearings at first during the event and managed just fine in the end, but I know more experience with open-water swimming would have helped me.

HOW DO YOU STAY MOTIVATED?

I am like most people (very busy), so it is very easy to allow working out to fall lower on the priority list. However, I have found that having personal goals and something to prepare or strive toward really helps me stay on track. I just signed up for my first full marathon in November (the Indy Monumental), so that is driving me to keep my fitness in tip-top shape throughout the summer and into fall!

ANY OTHER THOUGHTS YOU WISH TO SHARE: 

I truly recommend NIFS Triathlon Training to anyone who wants to learn how to train the right way and be ready come race day. I know I am glad I did!

This blog was written by Tara Deal Rochford, NIFS Membership Manager and a group fitness instructor. Author of Treble in the Kitchen. Meet our other NIFS bloggers.

Topics: NIFS running group training swimming triathlon cycling