Training is better with a goal

PETER GIBBS
Last updated 14:13 02/11/2012

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The Fitness Zone

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It's wonderful to have warm, sunny weather. If only we could have it at the weekends as well.

On Tuesday I went running up the Maitai Valley after work. Suddenly the swimming holes have become full of teenagers and the number of runners and walkers on the track has shot up.

What are they training for? For that matter, what are you training for?

Although an event is not essential, it certainly helps your fitness to have a specific goal. It might be a major piece of sports tourism, or perhaps something closer to home.

Without breaking the bank, you could aim at any number of events without travelling too far. It could be something within your comfort zone, or something out of left field.

Here are some picks for the months ahead:

The Port Nelson Summer Sea Swims splash off in less than two weeks, with opening night on Thursday, November 15.

The series has been going for 25 years. It has been run by the Nelson Triathlon Club for the past five years, during which time the average turnout has grown to 150 swimmers a night in the 18-week season.

It's a bit of a co-operative venture, with Nelson Surf Lifesaving Club, Nelson Kayak Racing Club and the Nelson Yacht Club all being involved in aspects of safety and in providing facilities.

One of the most daunting aspects of the swims is the mass start, in which more than 100 swimmers compete for a limited amount of space over the first few metres.

This year swimmers will be able to choose one of three wave starts in the long swim of up to 1200m, with a fourth wave for those opting for the short course of 400-600m. As entries roll in, it seems swimmers are fairly evenly divided in their choice of a fast, medium or slow start, so will have a better chance of clear water.

Prospective swimmers can choose to enter the whole series, or hedge their bets and register as single-entry swimmers, paying $5 each night.

Either way, you need to enter online at nelsonseaswims.co.nz, where you can also find all the information you need.

In recent years, many runners and cyclists have started taking part in the swims as an introduction to the sport of triathlon in its many different forms.

The first sprint triathlon of the season takes place at Rabbit Island on Sunday, November 25. It's a good opportunity to try the sport in its shortest form and there's an even shorter version for those who don't feel up to the 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run of the sprint event.

There's a clash on that day with Run Mahana - a great opportunity to run any of several distances, from 5km to half marathon. You can find out more at nelsonevents.co.nz.

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One of the great summer challenges during the past 30 years has been the Buller half marathon (or marathon for more-dedicated souls). It's on February 9.

I've done a dozen or so and still find it one of the most satisfying of events. First (of course) there's the training.

If you're a complete beginner who just wants to be part of a historic event, you should start training now. For the next two weeks, just get out three or four times a week and jog or walk.

You'll find a good training programme on the event website. It kicks in on November 17 - two weeks away - and will guide you through all the training you need. Get your partner or a couple of mates together and make this your summer programme.

If you've never raced the Buller event, put it in your diary and start training - check out the website at bullermarathon.org.nz. A handy hint: enter now - then you're committed.

There are plenty of other events, but in the interests of promoting something close to my heart, start planning for the Nelson Mail Team Triathlon on March 2.

The event targets those new to the sport of triathlon who want to try a short course in a team with two friends. Each person does the complete short triathlon before tagging their team-mate.

I'll outline some other summer options next week, but in the meantime, make the most of the warmer weather to get outside and improve your fitness.

- Nelson

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