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Tuesday 8 September 2020

8 Things That Put Me On The Podium At Triathlon

I’m not the quickest triathlete and I never will be. I train regularly and consistently … and more importantly I follow these simple guidelines ...

1. Know your numbers. 

What is the best pace you can hold and finish? Know your stats. If you go too hard and blow up, it’s going to be a long, sore walk home … so know what your hard numbers are. Also think about your trade-offs … if you slow down on the bike, does that mean a quicker run and quicker overall time for you?  Find out. You’ve got months of training and this is the perfect time to try out your race scenarios. 

Alternatively, if you’re chasing cut offs what can you do to improve your times? Is a run walk quicker than blowing up at the end of the race? A friend and I ended up placing at an ultra by following a 9 min run, 3 min walk on a multi-day event and ended up passing multiple competitors who were following a ‘run the whole way’ tactic but who were running slower and not getting the recoveries that we were. 

Also are your transitions shocking? Find out what it is that is taking up your time? If you’re 5 minutes in transition, how do you cut that down to 2 minutes? That’s 3 free minutes right there. If you knocked 3 minutes off your swim time you’d be ecstatic. 

2. Practise your nutrition. 

Don’t eat too much beforehand … no one wants to have to stop for 3 poos. And when you have under-fuelled, the feeling that you’re going to crash-and-burn is horrific. When you stand on the start line for a race, you need to be confident, that you have done all of this before. You need to know when to take your gels, your pies, whatever works for you but you need to know what it is and that it works for you. Personally, I have a large bowl of porridge and marmalade a few hours before, a snack while I’m setting up in transition and then a flapjack style bar or two on the bike plus jelly shots and gels on the run – 1 every 2.5 miles. That might sound a lot, but I’ve practised with that and know it works for me. 

3. No time or don't want to do it? Don’t overthink it.

Sometimes an attempt at a session or half a session is better than no session at all. You’ll end up surprising how much you can do most of the time ... and you’ll feel better for having done some than having done none. I don’t like training in hot sun … but I do because I know if a race is on a hot day, I’m going to HAVE to race in heat. Better to have practised in it and know how it feels. 

The exception to this is if you’re ill or overtired. 

4. You don’t need the top kit, the top bike but some good essentials will see you through. 

You don’t need a 5 grand bike. Mine cost me about £1400 4 years ago and she’s done plenty of miles and I love her. I know just how she corners in the wet, the dry and the ice and I also get regular bike services so I’m less likely to suffer a mechanical problem in an event. Trust me, this is worth the £35. And on that note, get a decent saddle - it’s a long time on your arse. 

Find a wetsuit that suits you. You’ll probably need to try a few out as they all fit differently and different suits for different folks. Everyone prefers a different one. A lot of the lakes will offer wetsuit hire and it’s worth trying a few out at different sessions to get a feel for which you prefer. They ARE pricey, but they’ll also last a few years if you keep on top of repairs and treat them carefully. 

Don’t skimp on trainers – it took me a while (and a few injuries!) to learn this lesson. it’s worth investing a few quid to get some specifically for running. A good running shop will be able to offer advice and guide you towards the right ones. And once you know which ones suit you, you can always order the same model again. 

5. Don’t rely on the training aids. 

I have fins but don’t need them. I’ve used a tempo trainer but don’t use it regularly. Sometimes simple is easier and forgetting a ‘crutch’ in a race will worry you. If you train with a nose clip and then forget it in a race, all you’re going to be able to think about before the swim is not having that nose clip. Get used to swimming without them.

6. Make life easy for yourself. 

Have some easy training routes nearby. It makes life simpler if you can just head out the door without having to think about routes if you know the 3 miles, 4, mile, 10 mile loops near you. 

7. Remember your mental strength.

Does it hurt? Of course it does. But everyone else is hurting too. Remember you’ve put the training in and you can do this … and you can keep doing it until the end of the race. Believe in your training. 

8. Get a coach. 

You can have the best plan but you need someone on the outside looking in. Are you overtraining? (Easy to miss this if you’re self coaching). A coach can spot what tweaks can make you more efficient, whether it’s time to add more reps or more power to your sessions … and when to drop it down. Also if you are happy to spend a couple of grand on a bike, then surely improving your times by getting a coach is a no-brainer, right? I truly believe that this is the best way to improve your training and racing – and it’s so simple but athletes don’t do it. And then wonder why they burn out, don’t hit the times or aren’t working to their full potential. Trust me on this. Worth it. 

Ok. Those are my top tips right there. You get those right and you’ll be smashing your targets and hopefully standing on that podium. 

Any other top tips, you’d like to add just drop me a comment and let me know how they’ve worked for you. 

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