Four Sprint Triathlons and 2 Olympic Distance Triathlons. Several marathons and Boston qualified. Because of my new found love of these sports, I got my Personal Training Certification and USAT Level I Coaching Certification so I could help others attain their goals!
New Triathlete in Training, What to Focus On?
When running or biking, is it best to work towards increasing distance, stamina, working with heart rates, intervals, speed, drills, etc.?
There are so many ways of training, it is hard to know what is right, wrong, or best. When running or biking, is it best to work towards increasing distance,
stamina, working with heart rates, intervals, speed, drills, etc. What do you think is a good way to start? By the way, I am looking to do my first sprint tri this summer.
I can’t wait to hear all about your first triathlon!!! I assure you, you will LOVE it! Before I answer your question, I just want to tell you a short story about first time triathlons…from a veteran stand point.
Above all, just have fun
I participated in the 2007 Danskin Triathlon for Women recently in Orlando FL and it was the most amazing event I have ever been to. The field was FULL of beginner triathletes, 90% of which had NEVER done a triathlon before in their lives. I know I was a beginner at one point in my life, but to see all of these people succeed, do what they never thought possible and not only finish, but finish with big smiles on their faces was AMAZING!
Now, that is the one and only thing I want you to REALLY focus on during your triathlon this summer…getting to the finish line (who cares where in the pack…1st or last…just get there) and most importantly…get there smiling and you’ll want to do another triathlon time and time and time again!!!
OK, that being said, lets talk about training. I currently coach about 10 beginner triathletes at the fitness facility I work for here in Orlando. My coaching philosophy is to have safe, effective and FUN workouts planned.
First and foremost, you have to WANT to come to practice!! If you are not having fun, if you are not seeing results, if you are not seeing improvement, you are not going to want to show up for practice.
Focus on form and endurance first
Secondly, I have my triathletes focus on form. It does a person no good to practice every day of the week, but practice poorly! They say practice makes perfect…but its really perfect practice that makes perfect!! So, that should be your focus…learn how to swim properly. Learn how to cycle properly. Learn how to run properly.
Now that you have learned how to perform your 3 disciplines PROPERLY, it is time to work on endurance. I am a big advocate of hitting the endurance route first. Once you can run for 3.1 miles without stopping, then we will practice running 3.1 miles 1 minute faster than our last triathlon and start trying to improve on our times with every event. Now that I have said that, in a fantasy world, with every race we ran we would get faster and faster and faster…however, in the real world, that is not how it works. I have to remind myself time and time again that every race is NOT going to be my best, though I’d like it to be.
Get that mental block out of your head right now. You are going to have bad race days…heck, you’re going to have bad training days…but don’t let that defeat you!! Put that race/training run/whatever behind you, get some extra rest, take a day off (see my over-training article) and start fresh the following day or so. You’ll find that was probably just what the doctor ordered and you’ll have a fantastic training day the next time out.
Speed can only come after the basics
Now, after you have your endurance down and you’ve practiced all of the necessary components of the triathlon (swim, transition, bike, transition, run), and you feel relatively comfortable with them all…then I would recommend experimenting with some speed work, intervals, working out in your target heart rate zone, etc.
It may sound simple…but that’s what I was taught in school “KISS” (Keep It Simple Stupid)!! Start with the basics…and start building from there. A house is not built on a coat of paint and some fabulous wall paper!! It’s built on a solid foundation…a boring looking slab of concrete…but what would we do without that foundation??? We could never improve the appeal of our house without it…and we can never get faster if we have not trained the basics of form and endurance safely, effectively and responsibly.
Now, go out there and show them how you REALLY train for a Triathlon! Good Luck!!!
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