By Chris Newport
There’s a reason why a lot of people love triathlon: it’s fun, challenging, and complex. But without the right plan in place, it can be complicated and overwhelming or lead to burnout and injury. Whether you want to reach specific performance goals or “just finish,” here’s how to have your best triathlon season ever.
Unleash your Inner Beast
It exists in all of us: the drive, determination and focus allowing you to conquer your goals. Squash the negative self-talk (“there’s no way I can do that”), banish pre-existing labels (“I’m a slow runner”), and commit yourself to unleashing that snarling athletic beast that lives inside of you. Give that beast high quality, well-programmed training that allows you to play hard, rest hard and achieve your goals.
Choose your races wisely
Many people choose their races based on location, triathlon distance, timing of the year, and budget. That’s a great start to creating a successful training plan, but it’s also important to pick events (run, cycle, duathlon, swim and/or triathlons) that will build your confidence, be fun and/or social, and stretch your limits.
Prioritize your races and be sure to integrate enough recovery time too. As a rough guideline, allow 2-7 days for every 1-hour of racing before attempting another event. You’ll enjoy lasting success and enjoyment in the sport.
Get geared up
Let’s face it; this sport requires a lot of stuff. Beyond the basics of goggles, bike, helmet and running shoes, if you’re all in (and that inner beast is on the loose), get the right gear. Plus, when you look and feel the part, your confidence soars. There’s plenty of cool gear designed to make you faster, but your “engine” is the most important tool.
To make sure you’re “tuning” that engine properly, a power meter and heart rate monitor provide objective measures of training intensity and recovery. Proper training provides the right overload (aka stress) to force your body to improve through adequate sleep and nutrition.
All those fancy gadgets mean nothing if there’s no context to the numbers. Start by getting your VO2 testing done in a lab to create your personalized training zones. Then regularly do field tests to measure your progress every 1-3 training cycles (or at least quarterly). These provide benchmarks to see areas that you need to work on the most and allow you to reflect on how far you’ve progressed.
Make a Plan (then change it)
If you decide to tackle the giant task of creating your own training plan, kudos. You know yourself the best. Remember, you’re unique and there are no hard-and-fast rules on how many workouts you should do per week. Junk miles will trash your body while quality training will propel that inner beast to success. Pre-made training (and fueling) plans provide some structure but should always be adjusted to your specific needs.
Even the best-laid plans change, so be flexible. You can also take the work out of planning and hire a coach who can provide accountability, objective insights on training data, and feedback to help you crush your goals and avoid getting hurt or burned out.
Build Your Dream Team
Surround yourself with awesome people who believe in you. This includes everyone from your trusted coach, cowbell-toting race day fans, to your fabulous massage therapist. Having the support of a trusted network of family, friends, co-workers, training buddies, and professionals ensures your success in triathlon and beyond.
Good luck and have a great season!
Chris Newport, MS, RDN, LDN, EP-C, CISSN is a USA Triathlon Expert Coach, Registered Dietitian, Certified Sports Nutritionist, & exercise physiologist. She founded The Endurance Edge, an integrative coaching center in Cary, NC offering coaching, metabolic testing, sweat testing, nutrition, massage, physical therapy, sport psychology, and more. She’ll help you unleash your beast, so find her at www.TheEnduranceEdge.com, on Twitter @CoachChris_RD, YouTube or Facebook @TheEnduranceEdge, or Instagram @YourEdgeNC.