Things I Know, Now

After 25 years in the sport you would think that I knew everything there was about training and racing for triathlons, yet I’m still reading about new ideas, practicing different things to improve my training, and rethinking things I had taken at face value. I thought I start out and jot down a handful of ideas and then expand on each of them, but the list got longer and longer, so for a change I will keep the explanations to a minimum and let each statement stand on its own, for now.einstein_thinking1 

Some of these ideas I’ve discussed at length in previous posts, some will likely be in future posts. Some are self-explanatory and need no further comments on my part. I hope you read them and they make you think about some aspect of your training, on things that you think you know, and maybe, just maybe, the light bulb goes on in your head and you get another piece of the puzzle to help you with your training and racing. So without further adieu, here’s What I Know, For Now

General

To be the best triathlete you can be, you need to swim with faster swimmers, bike with faster cyclists, and run with faster runners

Too many triathletes think that they can just “buy” their way to more speed, versus putting in more time to train or by being more efficient in their current training

Triathletes with a strong background in one of the three sports tend to focus too much time on that sport, but should instead focus on the others to bring them into balance with their primary sport

Pet Peeve Alert: New triathletes are quick to embrace the latest gadgets/accessories to assist them in their training, sometimes at the cost of just going out and training smarter or harder without them

Training

Less experienced triathletes train too hard on “easy” days and too easy on “hard” days

The focus of your training is to develop endurance, strength and speed, in that order

There is no shortcut to building your base layer of endurance, it just takes time

You should allow at least 36 hours between threshold workouts

The harder the effort during a workout, the shorter the duration, and the longer the recovery time before repeating the effort

Triathletes tend to more and more complex solutions to solve their problems, versus applying the KISS principle, “Keep lt Simple Stupid”

It’s okay to tag along with someone else that’s following a coach’s workout, just realize that it was tailored for them and might not be the best workout for you, at that time

Plan to take 4-6 weeks of “unfocused” training after your last race of the year to give your body and mind a break

Pet Peeve Alert: Training by yourself with music is fine, but training with music during a group ride (a major no nol) or run is not okay. Don’t tune the group out; you joined them for a reason.

Racing

2% Under-trained for a race is better than 1% Over-trained

We train anaerobically for long distance triathlons to build speed, but we race aerobically, albeit faster because of the anaerobic training

Visualize the entire day of racing before that morning and then you just have to execute what your mind has already seen itself doing

Control the events of the day that you can control and adapt to those that are out of your control, not the other way around

Many triathletes don’t incorporate race day terrain and conditions (i.e., hills, long flats, heat, wind), into their training days and are ill prepared to deal with them on race day

Swimming

Too many triathletes focus on just getting in the yardage in the pool and don’t focus on drills or kicking, essential to becoming a better/faster swimmer

Mass swim starts freak most people out, so learn where to position yourself at the start to mitigate this, and then practice until you become more comfortable

Pet Peeve Alert: Too many triathletes rely on their swim “toys” when they get tired during their main sets, instead of taking a break, regrouping, and refocusing on proper swim technique

Biking

ln the early phases of your training, it’s better to do one shorter ride that’s just hills and one longer flat ride, and not combine them into one really long and hilly ride

Being a strong climber on the bike doesn’t always equate to being fast in the flats, and vice versa

Many triathletes don’t do enough riding in their aerobars on their solo rides to prepare for longer distance triathlons

The fastest bike you can ride is one that you’ve been fitted for by a professional bike fitter, not just some really cool aero bike you got from a friend cheap that may or may not fit you.

Pet Peeve Alert: You should never ride in the middle of a pack of cyclists in your aerobars, hands away from you brakes

Running

LSD (Long Steady Distance) runs are typically 25% longer in time than your expected race day time, excluding Ironman distance races

The longest run you should do when training for an lronman is 3 hours or 20 miles, whichever comes first. Going longer than that is too hard on the body and will affect your subsequent training for too many days

Recovery day runs are done at “conversation” pace, the perfect time to hook up with training partners

Running shoes last 250-500 miles and your mileage will definitely vary based on your weight and the terrain you run on. Save your body, replace your shoes regularly.

Nutrition

Most triathletes underestimate the need to practice eating and drinking on their long training days to emulate what they’ll do on race day

You should consume a minimum of 20-30 ounces of a water/electrolyte mix for each hour spent on the bike during a race

You can consume between 25-50% of the amount of calories burned on the bike while you ride, but only half of that on the run, without having to slow down dramatically

Pet Peeve Alert: Too many triathletes think that taking in more salt/electrolytes will solve their cramping problems, versus focusing on better hydration and their training versus race pace

Not all calories are alike, not all carbohydrates are alike, and not all kinds of fuel play together well

Fuel that works at a moderate training pace may or may not work on a hot race day, or under race conditions

For longer distance races you need a Plan B for your nutrition in case on race day your Plan A fuel isn’t working for you or sitting well in your stomach

For longer distance races, if you plan on eating solid foods on the bike, start eating early on the ride so they have time to digest before the run

Injuries

50% of all triathletes come back either too soon from serious injuries or start training too hard, too soon upon their return

Pet Peeve Alert: Too many triathletes rush to race longer distance triathlons (e.g., half lronman and lronman) without putting in the time to let their bodies adapt to the increased work and training loads, resulting in injuries

When you stop training for a while, the first thing to go is your speed, while your aerobic fitness lasts much longer

Aging

Athletes over 50 need more recovery time and more rest/easy days than athletes under 50. Athletes over 60 need more time/rest/easy days than athletes in their 50’s…

The older you get the more important it is to incorporate strength training and stretching into your regular training plan, even at the expense of an easy swim, bike or run

There will always be a fast guy or woman in your age group, no matter what group you’re aging up into

 

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