6 Jan, 2020
6 min read
Location | Season Bali 19/20
No matter what your goals might be, a structured training program will pay dividends in the long run. Not only are you likely to be more consistent with your training but it will also be a lot more focused and specific for each phase.
Initially you should be completing fairly light intensity training to build base fitness and a foundation from which to improve on. As you get closer to your race the more race-specific the training should be, such as brick runs, which will get you used to the feeling of running off the bike.
A well-structured training program will also incorporate a taper one week away from the race, ensuring you don’t over train.
With more structure, you can balance other commitments better by planning out your weeks and months, and because you can phase the training in a more focused way, you’re more likely to achieve your goals on race day.
We all struggle with motivation sometimes, and this is why it’s a great idea to train with friends or training partners. It’ll be easier for you to get out of bed if you have someone you are accountable to, and it can also be a lot more sociable – especially during those long rides (did someone say cake stop!?)
Find a training partner who is faster than you.
It’ll push you to go harder and you’re more likely to see improvements because you can also use the opportunity to learn from them. Plus, shared pain is half the pain anyway, right!?
Joining a local triathlon club will also give you the opportunity to join group sessions and sign up to races as a ‘team’, which can be a lot more fun with some healthy competition at play. Apart from the social aspect, there’s also more advice ‘on tap’ than if you were training solo all the time.
Ever heard the expression “all the gear, no idea”?
Well, it can ring true sometimes in triathlon, when the temptation to purchase all the latest expensive and high-tech equipment takes precedence over more worthy investments.
For example, money can buy you the best brand spanking new bike on the market. But if you don’t ride it efficiently, it probably won’t make you faster. Investing in a thorough bike fit, however, almost certainly will. You’ll be more comfortable and can also work on a more aerodynamic position.
One of the best investments you can make is finding a good coach to work with.
A coach will plan and schedule all your training programmes, so it removes the guesswork and the need to think about it – you just wake up and get it done! Your coach will also be able to make your training more efficient by utilising the training data from your sessions to work on your weaknesses, identifying areas of improvement, and offering tips and guidance as you head towards your race goals.
When the weather permits (usually from April onwards in the Northern hemisphere), it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with swimming in open water.
It’s a very different sensation to a swimming pool – the visibility can often be poor, the water can feel a lot colder, and it can be choppy – even in lake swims. Acclimatising to the new environment early on will mean you won’t have any surprises on race day.
If you can do a practice swim at the race location this is a great way to get to know the local conditions. If you can’t do this, then simulate your race-day swim – i.e, if it’s a sea swim, like Bali, practice swimming in the sea, and also get used to running in and out ready for a quick race start and swim exit!
Swimming in open water also allows you the opportunity to trial and test your kit.
Your goggles may be fine in the calm swimming pool but maybe they will leak in choppier waters, or you may get some unwelcome glare from the sun. Does your wetsuit fit well, are you getting any water inside, is there any chafing you need to try and mitigate? Practice open water swims will help you prepare thoroughly and with plenty of time to adjust things before your race.
It’s always wise to train with a friend if you are swimming in unobserved open water – of course it’s more fun, but you’ll also be safer!
Transitions are considered the fourth discipline in triathlon – you can lose a lot of time if you make simple mistakes. If you can make your transitions rapid, it’s also an easy way to gain ‘free speed’!
Try setting up all your kit at home so that after your bike or turbo session, you can practice changing into your run kit and heading out as quickly as possible. The more you practice it, the less fumbling you will be doing on race day.
It’s also beneficial to visualise your transitions before going to bed – this way it will become almost second nature to you to conduct quick and seamless transitions, making it a lot less stressful and frantic on race day.
Something that can really affect the outcome of your race is race-day conditions, especially if you’re racing in a hot and humid climate like Bali. Many people suffer in the heat but as with most things, you can train your body to adapt and cope in this environment, even when you’re pushing yourself at higher intensities.
Ideally, if you can go on a training camp to a hot country a few weeks before your race, you can train and acclimatise in time for your event.
If you can’t go away beforehand and you don’t live in a hot country, set your turbo trainer up indoors with no fan or windows open. Ideally, you want to get the room hot, so you may want to turn a heater on for a period of time before you start your session. For humid conditions, if you can set up your turbo in a bathroom with a hot shower running or a bathtub full of hot water, this can also help your body adapt.
A few treadmill runs with a long sleeve top on and no fan will also help the adaptation process. Just remember to hydrate sufficiently for any heat training as you will be losing a lot of sweat!
If you can, arrive a few days early to your race to get used to the heat – go for a light run to help the body prepare, and make sure you start taking salt tablets a few days before the race to optimise race-day hydration.
Nailing your nutrition can be the difference between a make or break on race day. If you don’t practice and refine your fuelling strategy it can have negative consequences during your race (and no-one likes a mid-race portaloo!). Practice taking on energy gels, energy drinks and bars during your training session.
Find out what works for you and stick to that.
Take your own nutrition to your race and that way, you won’t be having anything you’re not already used to.
The same goes for your meal the night before your race – stick to starchy foods and practice your race-day breakfast before some of your bigger training sessions so you can stick to the same format on race morning.
Don’t try anything new on race week, and make sure you hydrate in the days leading up to the race. If you’re racing in a hot climate, take salt tablets in the days leading up to the race.
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