I got a PM (private message) from a new user at beginnertriathlete.com asking what advice I would have for someone starting out with training, especially as a big person. I am only 7 months into training, so I am still a brand newbie myself, but I also realize I look at things a bit differently than seven months ago. So here is what I wrote…..
Well, if you’re here on BT, and brand new, I’d say my first advice is this:
Stick around and read the site, and use it for inspiration and advice. HOWEVER – and this is key, especially starting out, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Don’t compare speed, distance, or anything. I have been at this for 7 months. I still run and bike slower than molasses in January. If I got worried that my best mile is most people’s casual walking, I would quit. But that is not an option. It is easy to see guys talking about doing 55 minute 40k bike time trials and thinking, “oh crap, this site is not for me. This triathlon thing is not for me.” It is. Get a copy of The Slow Fat Triathlete. It’s geared more toward women, but I certainly got a lot out of it.
Just get on a pair of decent shoes, embrace lyrca (or at least a non-cotton tech shirt for running) and get out there and move. Start with couch-to-5k. It is truly an excellent program. I used homemade running mp3 mixes where the volume went down for walking and up for running, then I didn’t have to mess with a watch.
Get to a pool. I swam for a month before I could do more than 1 lap freestyle. I took way too long to ask for help and advice on how to breathe and move in the water. If you have access to adult swim classes, don’t be afraid to sign up. I’ve met very fit people who never swam before and needed classes.
When I got started, I just got out there and moved. As you figure out where your starting level is, then you can start to decipher the training programs, and how and when to increase distance. For now, figure out what you can do without trying to kill yourself running. Push yourself, but don’t set artificial unreachable goals that just lead to self-sabotage and quitting.
I took many years to get in the shape I’m in. I won’t change it in a day, or make up for a year in a week.
The best advice I read from everyone, from newbie and overweight, to pro-level podium finishers looking for speed – is all around the same theme: CONSISTENCY.
That is a hurdle in itself for many of us who had self-discipline issues that led to obesity in the first place. It’s an issue for me. Last week I trained for a week straight. Monday was my day off, but after a late night, I am glad I have a 2 mile trail run gathering tonight so I get something done. Putting my training log on the BT website is a move that I hope keeps me accountable. Do I really want to see 4 blank days in a row?
Don’t try to do it all at once, but do something each day to move toward better health.
That’s my initial advice, knowing nothing about your situation or status. Believe you can do it (you can), believe you are worth doing it for (you are), and believe that you will have help, encouragement, and cheerleading from others who have been there, those who are still there, and others who are just impressed you are there now and doing something about it. Read Tom Demerly’s editorial that he linked in a recent thread I commented in.
Getting started is the hardest part. But inertia is an amazing phenomenon. It can keep you sedentary for years. But once you get up and moving, it works the other way, and you tend to keep moving. Then success begets success and before you know it, you’re doing more than you ever imagined.