I highly encourage those that signed up for a triathlon in 2014 (hopefully Nations!) to consider joining a triathlon club. There are many advantages – some readily apparent and others not realized until after the season finishes. Before going into those, let me talk about the structure and basics through the tri team I belong to – YMCA National Capital Triathlon Team (Ytri).
Ytri has a structured program for those new to triathlon and a less structured program for the vets, or those who completed the newbie program in previous years. Members are placed in swim, bike and run groups based on speed so everyone is training with others of similar abilities. Coached practices take place week day mornings (one minus if you’re not a morning person!). When the weather warms up, the groups meet for outdoor bike rides to get comfortable with bike handling and riding 25 miles. To ensure members are also having fun, the club meets for monthly happy hours! This is also a great opportunity for members to get to know their new training buddies.
Ytri wants to make sure the members, especially those new to triathlon, are ready for everything so the team hosts clinics on open water swimming, injury prevention, nutrition and many more. These help members become more familiar with the sport of triathlon and to improve their technique. The structured 18 week program along with clinics help new members become more comfortable with the sport so on race day, nothing is new. The vets also provide invaluable advice to new members on equipment, training and what to expect on race day.
People familiar with triathlon but looking to improve their speed can also benefit by joining a tri team. Getting feedback from coaches on technique can help athletes become more efficient in the water or running with slightly faster members will overtime build endurance for a faster split.
All of the training brings members together, and I personally found the social aspect to be wonderful. I’m still close friends with people of my newbie year, five years earlier. Another advantage of being part of a tri club is that on race day members suddenly have a huge cheering squad – familiar faces on the course and friends/family of members cheer for everyone in the team uniform!
Two more, unexpected, advantages of joining a tri team that I found were: new familiarity with the city and friends to train with once the season concluded. When I joined Ytri, I was already pretty familiar with the city, or so I thought. Running with a group I learned of places I had never been before such as Roosevelt Island which is a fabulous place to run and to get away from the city. I was aware of Hains Point through 5k races but a Ytri member let me on its best secret: fifty meter outdoor pool! To this day, I frequent both places often for training.
Once the season finished, I got to thinking: what would I do with all the free time??? Thankfully, others had the same question. We decided to keep the practices going (albeit at a slower intensity)! This was fantastic because it allowed me to keep up my fitness in the offseason and hit the ground running once the next season started!
To sum up, I would say joining a tri team is perfect for anyone new to the sport, people who enjoy training with others and for those looking to improve from a previous race!