Like most of you, I love racing. I live and breathe triathlon and it’s the very thing that drives me crazy yet keeps me sane at the same time. Whenever I prepare for an event, I really try to dedicate as much time and effort that I can to ensure I’m at top form. Aside from my actual race performance, most people are surprised with my “staying power” and how I’m able to manage racing at a high level for most of the year. Here’s a little tip, it’s more than just sheer determination or athleticism. It’s really quite simple, follow my tips to ensure you have a healthy and fruitful season ahead.
1. Plan out your races properly
Planning out your season begins with selecting your A race(s) and building the supporting B and C races around it. Most people make the mistake of being overzealous with their race calendar. Remember that the idea of having an A race is to peak for it; selecting long or difficult races early in the calendar will diminish your chances of doing well for your key race. In the event that you have two major races lined up, make sure there is ample time between them. This will help you stay driven in your workouts and avoid crawling through training.
2. Change it up
Periodization is key. This fancy term has been thrown around a lot but simply put, it means that one should progress through training properly. Don’t do the same things all the time. There are things like strength, speed, and endurance one must address early in the season. Once the appropriate base has been laid down, progressing to the “higher” skill sets (e.g. power) are necessary. Think of it as building a tower, the stronger the foundation is, the higher you can go.
3. Try to Include Strength and Conditioning
While it’s true that the heart and soul of triathlon is the swim, bike, and run, one could argue that strength and conditioning is its backbone. Ideally start your season with a proper S&C sessions to help address muscle and tendon durability, muscular imbalances, flexibility issues, and proper biomechanics. Putting in the work early on (and maintaining it throughout the season) will prevent injuries and translate to better results.
4. Focus on Recovery
People think that Recovery is the same as Rest - not necessarily. Recovery is multifaceted. Arguably the most important aspect is proper nutrition. Eating a balanced and healthy diet will fuel our body for tough workouts and it will help our bodies rebuild quicker. Starving our body of the necessary macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins) will diminish performance. Physiological recovery is another aspect of recovery. This refers to rest, massages, flexibility work etc. This primes the body for the daily training grind. Remember that you can’t make a tired muscle (or body) stronger.
5. Be Informed
Knowledge is power. By gathering as much information as you can, you are giving yourself a better chance of succeeding and doing well. This applies not only to training (e.g. what kinds of workouts to do, knowing your numbers, or figuring out the ideal structure) but to racing as well. By knowing what to expect in races, such as terrain, wind conditions, and aid station location, you will be able to execute the perfect race plan. Remember that the fitness you build in training is useless if you aren’t able to execute it well. Check my blog posts frequently for pre or post race articles on your races; I’ll do my best to help the triathlon community out.
6. Find your motivation and stick to it
Understanding what drives you will help you stay centered on your target. Whether it be setting a personal record, losing weight, or just finishing, choosing the right motivation will change the way you look at training. Write your motivation down on a piece of paper and look at it as often as you can (especially during tough training blocks or sessions). It will help you stay optimistic and focused on your goals. In my opinion, the best “carrot” (or target) is a positive one. Forget about competition and negativity. Instead, focus on your abilities, challenge yourself, and compete against yourself. By doing this, you will be happy whatever the outcome may be.
As the year comes to an end, another dawn approaches. To those (especially the newbies) who want to prepare for their races next year, the work starts now. Plan your season ahead, be smart about your daily training routine, and make sure you are well motivated. If you have any concerns or questions, I’m here to help! You can reach me through firstname.lastname@example.org.