Spring! Sunshine! No more layers! Tan lines! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Now that spring is well under way, it means that I now share the road with my fellow athletes, and many of those athletes had neither the inclination or ability to ride or run outside this winter and I’ve found myself needing to reintroduce some ground rules (6 to be exact!). You’ve often heard coaches and fellow athletes talk about training partners, and they are important for many reasons. But, in this article, I am diving in to a different perspective about training partners, I’ll be addressing the notion of sharing your training space.
Admittedly, my schedule is awesome. I was able to capitalize on the best weather over the winter and continue most of my training outdoors. However, on a recent spring ride, I was struck by the volume of athletes I encountered and genuinely concerned for their safety – and mine! As we all move from bleak basements and into the light of the bright outdoor world (albeit some days are windy – currently gusting up to 35 mph here), there are a few things I’ve needed to remind myself of and hope you’ll appreciate this common sense reminder about training around people again.

1) Signal, signal, signal: this becomes especially true around mixed company (walkers, runners, cyclists) and doubly so while riding within the vicinity of cars. There’s nothing wrong with being predictable. A quick and courteous “On your left” is great for passing, plus personally, it allows me to hold my line a little better instead of just getting passed and being startled.
2) Look before you move: bike or run, getting cut off or cutting someone else off can spell disaster. A ten second double check won’t cost you anything, but spending extra time sorting out an accident will.
3) Hydration and nutrition are not dirty words: your ride might be scheduled for two hours, but pack for three. It’s only April and while I haven’t bailed anyone out yet, the outdoor season is long and summer is going to be hot this year. Give these two points serious consideration before you leave for a workout, and make sure your training partners do the same.
4) Flat kits: similar to #3, be someone’s hero and be prepared. And, if you are carrying a kit, learn how to use it!
5) Headphones: I get it, I really do. It’s nice to have your own personal soundtrack going to the movie montage that is your training day. It’s fun, and it’s something else to concentrate on when “Shut up Legs” doesn’t work anymore. If you’re on the bike though, you should really only have the right bud in your ear. The number of times I’ve passed someone yelling “Left!” and feeling like the south end of a donkey for doing so realizing they have both headphones in place isn’t cool. Double ear buds is definitely a don’t-do-this-while-training. And while we’re on the subject, check your volume. Having it so loud that the prairie dogs can hear doesn’t make sense especially if there are other riders or cars coming up behind you needing to pass safely. There’s hardly a race in the world that allows you to have headphones on during the run, let alone the bike, so I don’t really see the point to cycling with music. If you do choose to train with music, make sure you put in more effort to be aware because the distraction factor goes up.
6) High speeds on multi use paths: this pertains specifically to the bike, but I honestly see no reason to be going more than 12 mph on sidewalks or multi-use paths. They’re not that wide or straight, and there are many blind (or nearly blind) turns. In the decade I’ve been riding, I’ve had more close calls and near misses on the multi-use paths around Boulder than on the roads with cars.
Welcome back to the world of training outdoors. Be safe. It’s going to be a great season!
 
Leigh Dodd is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and an assistant coach for the University of Colorado Triathlon Team. Her coaching philosophy encourages us that passion and drive will take us along way in triathlon! Putting those qualities to work within the context of a structured training plan and you are off to a great start!

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