Training for a triathlon, or just in general, requires a great deal of motivation, discipline and hard work. You need to continually apply your self in order to improve. However, many athletes fall victim to many of the same training mistakes which hinders their progress and holds them from reaching their full potential. It is important to understand a few fundamentals of training in order to truly achieve the progress that is desired.
Most importantly, athletes need to train progressively. This involves continually challenging your body in slightly different ways and pushing yourself to outperform your previous accomplishments. This prevents your body from becoming used to a particular routine. Many triathletes will do more or less the same workout every week, with minimal progression aside from increasing volume. If you are looking for consistent, long-term improvement then it is essential to evolve your workout from week to week. However, it is important to not just vary your training haphazardly. It is important to still have a plan for your workout such as breaking your training into three stages: base, build and peak. In the base stage, you should be focused on building general endurance and fine tuning your technique. In the build phase, you should work on intensity workouts that improve your body’s ability to buffer, clear away lactic acid and mentally handle suffering. Lastly, during the peak face, you should focus on race-specific workouts such as long internals and challenging long workouts.
Completing a triathlon is truly a game of energy efficiency. In order to complete a triathlon, you need to understand how to use your body efficiently, which means developing good technique. An athlete that exhibits good technique will be able to use less energy to perform each stage of the race. A great way to work on technique is to perform short, fast interval workouts. This is because we tend to be more efficient at higher speeds, but only when our body is not fatigued. For running, some useful technique drills include “high knees” and “bud kicks”. For cycling technique, try pedalling as fast as you can in the lowest gear or do one-legged pedaling on an indoor trainer. For swimming, drills such as the catch-up drill and the count stroke drill are very effective.
A common problem that many athletes have is that they are entirely focused on how much they train and not enough on how they train. While working hard is undoubtedly important, in order to see progress you need to train correctly and efficiently. If you find yourself in a rut, then try focusing more on your technique and challenging yourself in new ways. But remember to not push yourself too hard. Make a plan, build on your progress, work on your technique and weaknesses and make sure your body is getting time to properly recover.