I’ve mentioned previously that I’m a big fan of Orangetheory Fitness (OTF). From participating in classes away from home while on the road to staying motivated and holding myself accountable, I find OTF to be a lot of fun AND effective. To keep things even more interesting, OTF offers a number of challenges and fun classes that spice up the already extremely diverse structure of normal workouts.
One of the ones I love (and also hate) the most is the OTF Dry-Land Triathlon, or commonly referred to as Dri-Tri. I love (and hate) Dri-Tri because it’s an opportunity to push myself and to also measure the progress I’ve made.
I missed the first Dri-Tri offered at my local studio in March, but I got to compete in the second competition at the end of September. I’ve had a few friends and classmates ask how I did, and we’ve shared some thoughts on how to continue to improve our personal records (PRs) or times. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how you did compared to others – only yourself; regardless of the times of friends and classmates, it ultimately comes down to your personal growth and development.
Here are my thoughts on my personal experience and what I reflected on over the last few weeks since the challenge. For context, I’ll provide some other details on Dri-Tri.
What is Dri-Tri?
Dri–Tri is OTF’s version of a triathlon. Offered approximately every 6 months, it’s a great way for members to test their strength, endurance and overall progress. It includes a 2000 meter row, 300 reps of body weight exercises, and a 5k (3.1 mile) run on the treadmill. The order and details (from what I remember) of the competition:
- First, the 2000 meter row on the rowing machine. After finishing…
- your rowing time gets recorded but the overall time continues as you transition to the next challenge.
- Second, the 300 body weight exercises, which consisted of 5 or 6 exercises (body weight squats, bench jumps, step-ups, push-ups – I can’t remember the other ~2) which get repeated a second round. After finishing…
- your body weight exercise time does NOT get recorded but the overall time continues as you transition to the next challenge.
- Third, the 5k run on the treadmill. After finishing…
- your run time gets recorded and the final overall time gets recorded.
- Finally, you (or at least I did) feel like you got tackled and sat on by a +300 pound NFL defensive tackle.
How Many People Compete in Dri-Tri?
This varies by studio and location, but I had about 15 people in my session on a Sunday mid-day class. A second class of 15 or so people also competed the day prior on Saturday morning. Overall, we had plenty of space and there were 3 coaches to help record everyone’s time and monitor progress, correct form, proper transitions, etc.
How Did People Perform?
In my session on Sunday, we seemed to have quite a few people who PR’d, which was great! About 2/3 of the class – including me – was competing for the first time. The studio didn’t publish members’ times to everyone, but individual results were emailed to each participant. My results:
- Row Time: 06:51.30
- Body Weight Exercise Time: I don’t know; the coaches didn’t provide it, and I’m terrible at math (you can calculate it based on my row, run, and total times).
- Run Time: 19:55
- Finish Time: 34:19
What Did I Think of My Results?
Overall, I’m very happy with how I performed. I found out later that I had the overall best time across both days in my studio. This honestly surprised me, as we have some incredible athletes and members at our location. A number of friends also had great times, too.
Here are a few things I’m going to consider applying next time:
2000 Meter Row
My time of 06:51.30 was nearly over a minute off my best time ever. Except I did that nearly 13 years ago in college while on the Crew Team. I finished around 06:25 about 6 months ago during the OTF 2k row challenge during Peak Week (more to come in the future), but I knew I couldn’t go all-out during Dri-Tri. Well, I could have, but I would have died much earlier on in the challenge.
Things I considered for the row:
- The Start – I’m not going to comment on how to do a row start (as I’m not an expert), but I can say it’s a HUGE contributor to an effective 2k (or any distance) row challenge.
- The Pace – this refers to both (1) strokes per minute and (2) the 500 meter per 2 minute split pace (my preferred method – some people use Watts, MPH, etc.). If your stroke rate is too high, you’re going to burn out. On the flip side, if you go out too slow or don’t pace effectively, you might find you have too little or too much gas left in the tank.
- The Finish – there are plenty of websites and trainers who will give you the specifics of different strategies on how to finish a 2k (as well as how to do the entire race), so I’ll just say my preference it to maintain a longer, efficient stroke as far as possible into the race and to save the “true” all out until only a couple hundred meters or less remain.
- The Transition – this is where I felt I made up the most time (at least compared to the people during my session); I unhooked my feet as quickly as possible to stand-up and jog over to the weight room; yes, I was tired, but I didn’t want to stand around – or worse – stay sitting on the rower and have my legs lock up.
300 Body Weight Exercises
As mentioned, I don’t recall the specific order and even the types of exercises we had to perform. However, I moved very efficiently during every-other exercise and took some time to at least attempt to lower my heart-rate. Overall, I tried to keep moving constantly, but I paced when I felt I needed to control my breathing.
As my workout results showed, I spent 35 combined minutes in the orange and red zone (earning 35 splat points). If I recall, roughly 32 of my 34 minutes during the actual competition were in the orange/red zone (the whole class went for ~65-70 minutes). Afterward, I did take my time walking over to the treadmill to lower my breathing.
5k Treadmill Run
This part just sucked at this point. Roughly 14 minutes into the competition, I now had to run 3.1 miles. I was seriously thinking, “why the hell did I sign up for this?” But then I remembered why – it’s fun, and I feel better in more ways than one when I’m done with a class. Despite my perhaps poor judgement at the time, I wanted to finish faster to get to relief sooner.
It’s always a dichotomy for me: the faster I run, I’m done sooner, but in greater pain before then; the slower I run, I’m running longer, but in less pain before then. At this point, I was already hurting and tired, so I figured, “what the hell? Might as well finish sooner.”
Here’s what I recall and what I’d consider for my next competition:
- The Start – similar to the 2k row, the start is very important. But here’s the thing: you can’t make the treadmill start quicker than its programmed speed. But, as I learned from a friend who beat me on the 1 mile run during Peak Week, the treadmill gives you “credit” for the speed that you enter. If I set the treadmill to 12 mph (the max on a OTF treadmill), the distance and pace calculated on the treadmill counts it as if you’re actually running at 12 mph – despite that the treadmill belt is still building up to that actual pace. It probably takes 15-20 seconds for the treadmill to really get moving at that speed. Before it hits 12 mph hour, just adjust it down to your target pace speed. Perhaps it’s a little sneaky, but anyone can do it!
- The Pace – also similar to the 2k row, I realized I couldn’t go out too fast or too slow. So I had a predetermined goal to maintain a target speed of 8.6 to 9.4 mph for the majority of the run. My OTF Base Pace is typically around 8.5 to 9.0 mph, so I knew I needed to stay slightly above that range if I wanted to perform well. That said, I also realized I needed to respond to how my body was feeling and adjust as needed for certain periods of time.
- The Pain – while I was certainly tired and hurting a bit on the row and body weight exercises, I starting to hurt on the run. But I got into a groove and felt good. The energy in the class and the encouragement from the coaches really, really helped. I just broke the race down into chunks of time and/or distance in my head. If I felt okay, I’d up the speed a little; if I was getting concerned, I’d slow it down within my target range.
- The Finish – with about a mile to go, I started to slowly increase my pace to my normal target OTF Push Pace around 10 mph. At about the .5 mile mark, I increased a bit further. Around .3 of a mile, I thought (as I always do in a 5k or other race that doesn’t land on an even .0 number in miles), “why the hell can’t it just be a 3 mile run!?” At that point, I raised the speed to around 11 and then 12 mph (the max) and hit the finish line.
Overall, the run just simply takes the most time out of any of the 3 challenges. This is where you can really make a difference on your overall time. Killing yourself on the row (which can literally only be a difference of 30-45 seconds of effort) and/or body-weight exercises is almost guaranteed to make your run and overall times worse off.
Looking Back – and More Importantly – Ahead
For my next Dri-Tri, I’m going to continue to challenge myself but also be mindful of how my body’s feeling. If I’m confident and feeling good, I’m going to push it. Likewise, if my body is telling me, “WTF are you doing!? Slow this thing down,” well, I’m going to back off. I’ve injured myself prior to OTF by pushing myself too hard. (Actually, thinking about it, I was ignoring red flags and getting lazy by not stretching enough, staying hydrated, and getting adequate rest.) Overall, it’s about finding the right balance that works for me. What do you do to find your balance?