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Brick by brick, building for Alcatraz

Athlete perspective by Stuart Nelson

I've approached training for triathlons as a matter of priority - a foundation for everything else I do during my day - work, family time, social time, etc. Routine exercise enhances every other part of my life, and training for events provides me with tangible goals to work towards and a feeling of accomplishment when I reach them. What has enabled me to successfully adhere to my training schedule, rather than feel burdened by it, is that I have been careful not to bite off more than I can chew. With Coach Foster's help, the key has been arriving at a balanced training schedule that pushes me bit by bit but doesn't burn me out. Consistency provides a far greater feeling of satisfaction than over-the-top but irregular workouts.

The reward for this consistent "piece by piece" approach is being able to participate in events - even ones I thought were out of reach - with a feeling of safety and competence.

Escape from Alcatraz was a stretch goal for me, having only begun my real fitness journey a year ago. Finishing in the top quartile in my age group was like standing on top of a pyramid that I had built brick by brick. I thought about each aspect of the race, and worked with Coach Foster to include in my training a building block to prepare me.

Colder water than I'm used to? Practice swimming in the Pacific during my brother's wedding in San Diego.

Longer run than I'm used to? Throw in a few 10 milers to my routine.

Longer swim than I'm used to? Bite the bullet and do a few long swims.

More hills than I'm used to? Train on the banks of the Bayou and do some rides out in the country, which is less convenient but closer to race conditions.

Intimidated by the profile of the race? Do some visualizations.

All of this paid off on race day. Piece by piece, the mastery comes - a steady approach that weaves together with the rhythm with life.


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