Triathlons are back on the menu this season with quite a few epic races coming up within the next few months – in particular, Yas Island’s iconic TriYas (February 17), and Abu Dhabi’s exciting edition of the ITU World Triathlon (March 3-4) which brings the elite and amateur together for one cracking race day.
For any rookies wanting to finally give it a go in 2017, it’s now easier than ever thanks to The ROOM, Abu Dhabi’s new dedicated training programme starting this Sunday, open to both novices and regular racers.
The capital’s much-loved cycle-centric studio is no stranger to the sport, with many staff on board calling themselves avid triathletes, so you’ll be in good hands as you train in the water, on the bike and on foot. And as difficult as a triathlon sounds as an activity, coaches Rebecca Pittam and Mim Kleiberg’s mission is to prove to the average Joe that it is more achievable than you think.
“Because our studio is heavily focused on Spinning (indoor cycling), we see that there are a lot of clients who are either already into triathlon or are curious about taking their love for cycling a bit further via a different sort of challenge. And so we just want to help these guys achieve some new goals, try something different,” says Pittam, who herself got into triathlon four years ago while watching it in the Olympics.
“I remember myself back in the day saying ‘I could never do a triathlon’,” she admits. “I was overweight. But I got into running a bit, so much so that eventually I was doing marathons, and then I thought ‘okay, if I can do a marathon, then I can probably manage a triathlon’. I started with the Sprint distance, then I moved on to the Olympic, and then I did a Half Ironman. An Ironman for me was always a huge goal, one I never thought I’d ever reach – but I did.”
Kleiberg was also big on running, and when she became a Spinning instructor, all that was left to complete the trifecta was swimming. So she decided she might as well give triathlon a chance.
So what’s in store for programme entrants? You’ll want to trim down your social calendar to make room for the six-sessions-a-week regimen which will cover all bases, from swim to run and recovery, but also leave you pretty knackered.
Specifically-designed Spin classes held at The ROOM will help you build strength and endurance while the prescribed run sessions, held right after, as well as independently, will help your legs adapt to the stresses you face when training for multiple sports.
Scheduled swim sessions will take place at various locations arranged for you by The ROOM at certain times throughout the week, and held by a swim-specific coach, Amanda Couch. And of course you can always take advantage of the beautiful waters which surround Abu Dhabi in your own time.
The programme will also throw at you some longer rides and runs outside of the studio to build up your endurance. Combine all of this with strength and flexibility sessions and you are looking at a fully-rounded training programme which complements the needs of any budding or experienced triathlete.
“Along the way, there will be a couple one-off sessions and tutorials specific to triathlon-training clients only that will provide them with all the tools and tips they need for a better race day,” says Kleiberg. “For example, we will run a session on race nutrition, another on race preparation, a workshop on bike repair and maintenance and there will be a few outings too, such as bike rides up at Al Wathba Cycling Track on a Friday morning.
“And the functional mobility sessions included in the package are going to be a must for everyone – they are brilliant for preventing injury, and just generally feel amazing.”
Pittam adds: “Although we’re putting all levels together in training, I make sure and sit with every client individually to find out what their specific triathlon goals are, what their previous race times were (if they’ve raced before), how much they hope to improve on that, and I tweak the plan accordingly to suit their needs. We’re not doing one size fits all because that just doesn’t work.”
“The whole point of this programme is to show people that anyone can do this, there’s no need to be intimidated by it,” adds Kleiberg. “We have someone signed up who is terrified of open water, isn’t a strong swimmer at all, and they will still take part in the triathlon, but as a team of three with another member taking on the swim. Triathlon is a very flexible sport.”
Another element of triathlon racing which tends to put people off is the expensive, cutting-edge gear they presume needs to be bought in order to succeed – from super-streamlined helmets to bikes valued at the same price of your annual rent. Leave that to the pros, says Pittam. “Personally, I’m a geek for all the fancy gear but you don’t need to have anywhere near all that stuff. Essentially, all you need is a swim cap, goggles, swimsuit and towel, a pair of trainers and a bike, plus shorts, t-shirt and a cap for the legs out of the water. You don’t even have to buy a bike if you’re not yet sure triathlon is for you – there are bike-renting schemes available if you plan ahead.”
And these girls are not just guiding you through the programme. They will be racing alongside you as well, and both are excited ahead of Abu Dhabi’s two iconic triathlon events.
“TriYas is my favourite triathlon event in Abu Dhabi,” says Kleiberg. “It’s always really well organised, and Yas Marina Circuit as a racing venue is also pretty phenomenal. It’s very memorable.”