It’s no secret that triathlon can be one of the most time demanding sports out there. From the amateurs to the pros, being involved in this sport requires a level of dedication and attention to detail that most are not capable of. Youtube vlogger and (most importantly) Canadian, Triathlon Taren came to Boulder, CO. So, we decided to pair him up with our local pros and follow him around for a day of triathlon training to get his take on the altitude, training facilities, and (most importantly) the gluten-free granola.
Images: Justin Diamond / Ventum Racing. Words: Taren Gesell
6:00 AM: Wake up
Breakfast before swim: coffee with almond milk, Ucan Superstarch mixed
with MCT Oil
Arrived at rally sport, home to highly touted endurance coaches and athletes alike. Quickly said hello to (newly added) Ventum Pro Jeanni Seymour
Considering the temperature at the swim start (16 F / -8 C), an optimal warmup will include activation on the pool deck, in a suitable parka, followed by swiftly jumping into the pool.
8:01AM: Jump into the pool and begin the set.
Repeat this prep set three times:
4×25 going 75, 80, 85, 90 percent
Repeat this main set three times: 300 @ 80%, 6×50 @ 90%, 100 EZ
The set is timed out to be exactly 45 minutes, which lets the athlete know how consistent they are when repeating the workout. This swim ended up being the hardest training session of the week I spent in Boulder. This day was the fourth day of my trip to Boulder which is often when the lack of oxygen at altitude hits athletes hard, and often this hit comes during swimming when triathletes breathing patterns are constrained. Think about what it feels like when your muscles have so much lactic acid in them that they can’t move, that’s what the last half of this swim felt like. The coolest part about this swim is that even though it was cold and just slightly under freezing, Rallysport keeps their outdoor pool open and warm (they have an indoor pool as well) so it’s really neat being in warm water while the air is so fresh.
Refueling is key. Especially when the day included three hard sessions on the fourth, and most pivotal, day at altitude. Just as important as the nutrition is taking the time to decompress mentally and phsyically between the workouts. Luckily, we had great company for our second breakfast of the day.
Boulder is a training mecca for the altitude, but triathletes can get altitude in any number of places around the world. Having travelled a lot and trained while traveling I can say that it’s not the altitude that makes me love training in Boulder, it’s the entire ecosystem. In Boulder you have access to the best fitness facilities imaginable; endurance strength training coaches like Erin Carson of Rallysport, endless pools with video analysis, bike fitting experts, and medical grade testing facilities are all within this small city that you can
bike from one end to the other in less than an hour (on a commuter bike…including a coffee stop). Beyond the training there are excellent restaurants where “Do you have a gluten free/vegan/vegetarian/fruitaria
10:42 AM: Bike Workout.
While this wasn’t the torture-fest that the morning swim was, this bike got hard in the final repeat and I totally
bonked not being able to hold efforts above 230w (the altitude is real). But the company was great and the riding in Boulder is phenomenal, roads are perfect and drivers are respectful. There are so many roads to ride on that you almost don’t need a map, as long as you have a good sense of direction you can find good roads going out on a
ride and just point yourself in the direction of home and you’ll get there.
25mins easy spin,
5min building effort from Zone 2-Zone 4,
6x15mins at or above race pace (230w or higher) with 5min easy spin between
An important part of being an endurance athlete, specifically a triathlete, is the ability to go from one workout to the next as quickly as possible. The run workout was prescribed to be just after the bike. I’m a big fan of running on soft surfaces as much as possible to
keep your body from getting too beat up, and in Boulder there are
packed dirt trails and roads right alongside the paved roads. It’s
easy to find any surface you want from road, to dirt, to trail, to
Immediately off the bike go into 10min run at race effort (which
was nowhere near race pace as the run started on a hill with a dirt
road surface) then settle into the final 10mins at cruisy Zone 2
Most importantly though, what makes Boulder unique is the community of like minded people. Need a place to stay? Any one of dozens of triathletes will happily put you up. Want to go for a group ride? Join up with the local coffee ride or just throw it out to friends on Facebook. Don’t like eating alone? Suggest going out for some great food and home brew and you’ll have a group of friends to talk triathlon with all night. There aren’t many places in the world I’d rather be than at home with my wife and pups, but Boulder makes a really strong case as a good backup option if they ever turn on me.