In my continuing effort to bring you the most up-to-date and interesting triathlon stories, I’ve enlisted the help of someone whom actually knows what they are writing about. It is with great to-do that today I’m introducing a new feature on Everyman Triathlon: Coaches Corner.
I’ve asked some of the best and most well know athletes and coaches in Triathlon to write a few pearls of wisdom that, unlike my writing, may actually help you in your training and racing.
Today we begin with Wes Hobson. Wes has competed in over 220 triathlons since 1983, from Sprint distance to Ironman distance. During his twelve year professional career, Wes was selected "Triathlete of the Year" by the United States Olympic Committee.
He has won too many races to mention, but I suspect one of his proudest moments, was when he won the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Fran.
As you may know, one of my most popular stories is “Top Ten Newbie Mistakes” (See Top Ten link on the right side of this page) While these mistakes may be true, they certainly won’t help you win a race. Wes has come up with his own list. Sorry but there are only seven. I’m sure you can add three more from your own experience.
1) Increasing training volume too quickly. When many triathletes take up the sport, early improvements in performance come from improvements in aerobic fitness associated with increased physical activity.
The danger is that often a "SOME TRAINING IS GOOD, THEREFORE MORE IS BETTER" attitude develops and before you know it you have an overuse injury. Triathletes are among the most committed, hard working athletes. Many are in a hurry to increase training volume rather than taking time to develop technical skills first.
2) Spending too much time on your strongest leg instead of working on your weakest. Work on your weaknesses while maintaining your strengths.
For example, triathletes from a running background find long slow distance running work easy, so if given the choice they will often run rather than swim or cycle. Every training session is an opportunity to gain a competitive edge and to improve an aspect of performance. Take advantage of every opportunity to improve weaknesses.
3) Using training "hard" as an excuse to eat and drink whatever you like. What you eat today affects your training tomorrow. You don't put low-grade fuel in a Formula I car. Triathletes are Formula I athletes. Treat your body like a temple. It is the only one you have.
4) Not taking time to rest and recover. Rest, recovery, regeneration, relaxation are all words to describe the process of allowing your body to adapt to hard training. Getting enough sleep, having a spa, getting a massage, doing some exercise for fun instead of training, eating well and stretching are all part of effective recovery.
Sleep is especially a key recovery technique. Everyone needs sleep; some triathletes need more than others. Get to know how much sleep you need to make you feel rested and recovered.
4) Training at too high an intensity. Many triathletes often train too hard. This results in excessive body stress and residual fatigue carrying over from one session to the next. Aerobic, or base training, training helps triathletes develop endurance.
Aerobic training is done at low intensity. It gives your body the physiological characteristics to later handle higher intensity work, to recover quickly from hard efforts at training and between races and to burn fat for fuel more efficiently.
6) Not planning an integrated balanced training program. It is important that you find time to develop a training program for triathlon, not swim, bike and run. It sounds weird but there is a difference between training for the individual legs and for the overall sport.
Recently a triathlete called me for a consultation. He was very frustrated with his training program. He had a specific swim coach, a top cycling coach and a track and field distance coach for his run sessions. However, because the three coaches didn't share training session information, he ended doing three hard lactate type sessions in the one day!
There are times to work on the specific skills and techniques of the individual legs and times to integrate and balance a training plan incorporating all three. It is difficult to make significant improvements in all legs at once. Stress is stress. A hard ride places a tough demand on the body just as a hard run or hard swim.
7) Copying the "secrets" of champions. Much of what we know about athletic performance we have learned from observing, monitoring and testing great athletes. The challenge is that the factors that lead to these athletes becoming great are not always reproducible or even measurable.
Listen to the great ones. Learn from their successes and avoid reproducing their mistakes. Above all, take from the champions what is appropriate and applicable to you at your level of competition and suitable to your training background.