As my goals for 2016 have been set and my careers have been selected, the true strategy of achieving great results this year comes into focus. There are 3 aspects to being successful in triathlon that any aspiring triathlete must master. These aspects are a solid triathlon training plan, a nutrition plan, and equipment upgrades / maintenance. For the amateur triathlete, each of these aspects can be challenging and expensive, but absolutely necessary. Hopefully, you will find that these aspects can be mastered cheaply.
A solid triathlon training plan:
The first aspect that every triathlete must obtain and master is the triathlon training plan. No one can just show up on a given day and not have a plan for specific workouts. I know that when I started training for triathlons, I didn’t have a solid plan. I was thinking to myself: “Just do a little running, a little cycling and a little swimming and everything will be fine.” Sure, you can take this tactic and finish a triathlon, but if you want to be successful you need a solid plan.
Each plan will help you have the right mix for your training. You need a combination of low heart rate training (zone 2) whereby you build the largest engine in your cardiovascular system. You also need a combination of high intensity training to develop your top speed for triathlons. After all, triathlons are a race and speed counts. Because triathlon is really a combination of speed and endurance, you need to be able to have a plan that allows you to go as fast as possible for as long as possible.
You can search the internet and you will find triathlon plans. You can get plans for sprint distance races, olympic distance races, half ironman races, and ironman races. You can pay a small amount of money or a large amount of money, or you can find free plans. In either case, you must find a plan that suits you and your specific goals. Some plans will adopt a philosophy that you have all the time in the world to train, when in reality you have limited time. You may need to find a different plan, providing you with the necessary workouts in a package that fits your schedule. For a long time, I used the Time Crunched Triathlete book and planned my training. This plan incorporates more high intensity work in fewer hours during the week. The author admits that this training regimen is suitable for someone attempting a Sprint or Olympic distance race, but is less helpful for someone attempting a half ironman or full ironman distance race. The important thing is to have a detailed plan that takes into account your needs. You don’t want a plan that just includes the discipline and duration of the workout. You need to have intervals during your workout to help you get the most out of your workout.
One particular plan that I have discovered is the TriFuel plan for the ironman full-distance runner. This plan was up for sale at one point, but I found out last year that I could access it for free. This plan is based on exercising Monday through Thursday, taking off on Friday, and then doing long workouts on Saturdays and Sundays. I modified the plan because I take off on Sundays. I exercise from Monday to Saturday. This plan also includes detailed workouts for each discipline for each day. It is adjustable because it does not have a set calendar date for you to start, but you can start at any time during the plan. It also includes some particular scoreboards for fitness tests so you can track your progress. I used this plan all of last year and it really worked for me. It consists of a 20-week season plan, a 12-week competitive season plan, and a 2-week phase-down plan. In particular, the specific swim workouts that focused on using all swimming styles, including breaststroke, butterfly, and backstroke, I liked to strengthen all the muscles for the swimming discipline of the triathlon race.
Having a solid triathlon training plan is crucial for you to have the most success in your triathlon races.
One of the main reasons triathletes get involved in triathlon is to lose weight. I know that I have benefited from my time in triathlon to lose over 50 pounds. Continuously, if you want to be competitive you must closely monitor your weight. Nutrition also helps prevent injuries and keep up with the overwhelming amount of work that is happening to your body in triathlon workouts. Nutrition is crucial to helping you get to the starting line of any race in great shape and at the right weight. It is also crucial to help you be successful during a career.
There is a debate in triathlon circles about how much weight to lose. Some people argue that because you lose more than 10 pounds in an Ironman distance race, you shouldn’t aim for your absolute base weight. You want to maintain a weight that allows you to run well, but not be so thin that you have no fat to burn in your run.
I am not disciplined enough to measure all my food at every meal. In the past, I kept a fairly comprehensive food diary through MyFitnessPal. However, I find this to be cumbersome now. I need to maintain a proper balance in my diet. I have recently gained some weight while on vacation. I know I need to lose some of that weight to be ready for race day. I will do this by avoiding sugars and high fat foods. Of course, during the Christmas season, I had mint shakes, fudge, cookies, cake, and many more sweets. I drank sodas that are never good. I ate extremely fattening foods like hamburgers and donuts. I believe that by making this simple change I will lose some of the excess weight. Last year, I got close to my goal weight of 175 pounds, but I didn’t write to get there. I would cheat from time to time with my nutrition. With my stated goals of achieving a Kona rating and running an ironman of under 10 hours, I will focus on not misleading my nutritional needs. I had a pretty good diet last year that avoided a lot of carbs. While this required some adaptation to the lack of carbohydrates for my exercise, my body eventually adjusted and I lost some unnecessary fat that had been hovering around my midsection.
Each person’s nutritional needs are different. You will need to find the right combination of foods to help you maintain an ideal weight and also to maintain your training skills. If you start participating in some of your workouts and go crazy often, you will have to address this. Bonking is the process by which your body shuts down because it lacks the proper nutrition to continue to function. There are many nutrition plans on the market, but most of them will not tell you what you eat, but what combination of carbohydrates, protein, and other nutrients you need.
I wish someone would come and give you a 6-month daily plan of simple meals for the triathlete.
Equipment upgrades / maintenance:
Each triathlete should conduct an assessment of their current equipment and plan for any updates or maintenance schedules. If you are like me, then you know that triathlon equipment is very expensive. If you can get any equipment, you should keep it. One of the biggest problems in this field is bicycle maintenance. I am not a certified bicycle mechanic, but I have watched enough videos online and read enough books to know how to properly maintain my bike. I make sure to buy a new chain every year. I know chains can go up to 3,000-5,000 miles. I am trying to change mine somewhere in this range or earlier. I especially want to change it before the big Ironman race in October. If you don’t change the chain, you should at least clean and lubricate it properly. You can make a few small improvements that will make a big difference on race day: new tires, ceramic bearings in various parts of the drivetrain and wheels, an aerodynamic helmet, and tight clothing. These are all small updates that can make a big difference.
There may be some training aids that would help too. Do you have a set of fins to train for the kick in the pool? Do you have a quality trainer to be able to ride your bike during the winter months? Have a watch or bike computer that can help you keep track of all your workouts?
Planning your updates and maintenance schedules won’t take long, but they will set you up for great success in the new year.
Each of these aspects of triathlon training and racing will help you achieve all of your goals in the coming year.