Have you ever wondered why triathlon training sometimes never seems to make you faster? Perhaps you're at a plateau, or even seeing increasingly worse race times or performances. Maybe you just wrapped up the last season, and you simply feel like you didn't perform as well as you could have.
If this describes you, then it is entirely possible that you've committed one of my top 11 triathlon training mistakes (and by the way, I'm guilty of ALL these). Here's the list.
1. Never Throwing Curveballs.
This error is committed by the triathletes who get into a "comfort rut" - simply mindlessly performing the exercises and workouts that allow them to mount a bike, strap on the running shoes, pull on the swimsuit or head to the gym and just cruise with no focus. They never throw a triathlon training curveball at their body, so their body eventually becomes incredibly efficient at these same ol' workouts. Sure, you should occasionally perform tried and true workouts that allow you to create a benchmark to identify progress in your training, but you don't want to do those workouts *all the time*.
Here's a simple fix: this week, pick one training session for each skill (swim/bike/run/resistance training) and throw a complete triathlon training curveball at your body by randomly choosing a workout out of a magazine, article, or website. Do it, and see how your body responds. Nine times out of ten, a random workout that keeps your body guessing will make you leaner, stronger and faster.
2. Exercising to Eat
If the goal of your triathlon training is simply to burn calories, so that you can get to your next meal or snack - they boy, are you in trouble! What happens is that this mentality creates a weekly slog of performing workouts that focus not on performance, but rather on "beating up your body". The result is injury, overtraining, mental fatigue, and boredom, along with a continuous vicious cycle of eating too much, then over-exercising to fix your errors.
Try this: eat a healthy diet, stop when you are 80% full, and then completely forget about burning calories during your workout. Instead, focus on a specific performance goal for that triathlon training session, whether it be overspeed, muscular endurance, power, or strength. Your triathlon training will instantly become more meaningful and rewarding.
3. High Carb Diet from the 80's
Are you still eating bagels with jam for breakfast, shoveling pasta down on a Friday night to get ready for your weekend long triathlon training, or eating big bowls of cereal for breakfast? This type of high carb fueling has been heavily associated with increasing your chronic disease risk factors, causing inflammation, GI distress and poor performance. Good fats and lean proteins will serve you much better. Next time you're at a coffeeshop, grab a bag of almonds and a cup of green tea, rather than a coffee and biscotti. You'll feel much better, and your energy and performance levels will soar.
4. No Strength Training
Sure, most of the pro triathletes you see may *look* like lean, skinny guys and girls who have never touched a weight in their life, but the reality is that strength training goes far beyond football style deadlifts, squats and benchpress, Do you do fire hydrants?
How about elastic band walks? Rotator cuff rotations? Planks? All this requires no weights, but is still considered resistance training, and is incredibly beneficial for your triathlon training program. Don't get fooled into thinking that strength training is bad for you - most of those studies were done with heavy dumbbells and barbells, not the more precise body weight and elastic type resistances you should be using.
5. Ignoring Data
Do you know the power from your last bike session? OK, so maybe you haven't invested in a power meter, but what about your speed and distance? Heart rate? Do you know your average 100m pace in the pool for your priority race distance? Do you know your per mile pace in your long run, or do you ever take a GPS out with you? You're living in an age where data is fairly inexpensive, easy to get, easy to interpret, and highly beneficial. Take advantage of this and at least give yourself some baseline pace and heart rate measurements so you can track your triathlon training progress.
If you have questions about how you can avoid these mistakes, and begin making changes in your program, then you should surf over to the Rock Star Triathlete Academy at http://www.rockstartriathlete.com, where there is even more free triathlon training advice to make you rock.
He's a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more more.
We recommend that you surf on over to
www.bengreenfieldfitness.com, for more great training advice.
Editor's Note: Please comeback tomorrow for part two.