I have been reflecting on my history of triathlons, since it has now been 20 years, and you I would like to share my experience with some tips.
We are halfway into the 2017 season. Some of you have completed an Ironman, while others are anticipating your first sprint. Many of you are feeling empowered to make this your best year yet of training and competition.
Here are five steps you can take to create personal success for yourself in triathlons this year – steps to help you become strong, fit and fast while you embark on a lifetime of triathlon to enhance your wellness.
1. Identify your reasons for racing triathlons.
Why are you doing this? Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I most enjoy about triathlon training and racing?
- What are the best feelings I get to experience in my triathlon training and racing?
- When I first “fell in love” with triathlon, what was it that felt so great?
Your answers to these questions will help you get closer to your core personal reasons for participating in triathlons. This process can help you discover or remind yourself why you like triathlons and why you are looking to have a great year.
2. Create or assess your triathlon goals.
Based on your personal reasons for participating in triathlon, you need to create your goals for the season. A simple summary of good goal setting advice would be to set specific, positive, challenging (but realistic), and personally meaningful goals. A good coach can help you to clarify your goals or restructure them in ways that make them more appropriate and helpful; but the core of your goals must come from inside of you. I encourage you to create your goals based on the reasons you have identified as why YOU like to participate in triathlon. Assess your goals to make sure they are in line with your personal reasons for training and racing. Doing so will help to ensure a year you can look back on with a sense of joy and satisfaction.
3. Train with direction.
From your well-established goals, you need to train in a purposeful manner to help you to reach your them. Simply “putting in the miles” or mindlessly following the workouts of your friends or local training groups may bring improvement in the short-term, but will lead to a plateau in your abilities rather quickly. Instead, carefully assess your current abilities and what stands between them and the abilities you need to have to reach your goals. From there, create a plan of action that will help you to develop as you need to. If you need help with this, consider reading some of the great books available on triathlon and endurance sports training, or consider working with a triathlon coach who can help to provide this direction for you.
4. Create health-enhancing lifestyle habits.
Health and performance are two qualities that go hand-in-hand. The healthier you are, the better you perform. Two major areas that impact your health are your sleep and your nutrition habits.
While improving your nutrition habits, assign yourself a weekly nutrition plan just as you’d plan your training. Your role each week is to execute this task just as you execute your training. This allows you to gradually create better eating habits.
With regards to sleep, many ambitious triathletes sacrifice sleep to train more, either early in the morning or late in the evening. Obviously, you need to train to improve, but when the amount of training you are doing is limiting your ability to get enough sleep each night, you are fighting a losing battle.
5. Rest as eagerly as you train.
If you train without resting adequately, you won’t make any progress. Most triathletes are aware of this, but many ignore it. If you really want to improve this year, I offer the following suggestions for better resting:
- Every 3-6 weeks, take a Recovery Week where you train at 50% or less of your training load in your other weeks.
- Every week, take at least one Rest Day where you perform no training.
- When possible take a Total Rest Day where you perform no training, no work, and no chores. This is often most possible on a weekend day during a Recovery Week.
- If you are racing quite a bit, consider a mid-season break somewhere in the summer after a heavy period of racing. Take a week or two away from structured training and triathlon in general. If possible, you can take this break at the same time you take a family vacation. This can recharge your batteries and allow you to continue racing strong in the later summer and fall.
I hope you follow your purposeful progressive training plan based on your experience and goals and continue enjoying the sport for years to come.