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!
Base Training - The Foundation of Your Training
Know that base training is not a component of training that is going to necessarily make you faster, but it will make you stronger and give you more endurance to last through the longer races.
I haven’t competed in a Triathlon before, but am determined to do so next season. At the moment I am a member of a local club and am spending my time clocking up miles on the bike and run. Does anyone know about base training?? Does it really make you faster when it comes to doing more serious endurance training??
Fantastic!! I am thrilled to hear that you are planning your first triathlon next season! It is vital that you give yourself plenty of time to realistically and safely train for a Sprint Distance Triathlon. A Sprint may be one of the shortest distance Triathlons, but it’s certainly does not FEEL like a “sprint” when you are out there, as you will be exercising for AT LEAST a continuous hour during this event!!
As I was reading your question, I noticed that you did not include swimming in your current exercise regimen. This is the most technical of the three events, so unless you are already an avid swimmer (and by this I don’t mean doggy paddle daily in your local swimming pool), you should be logging sometime in the pool AND open water if possible.
I’ll address swimming first for your base training, since it is the first of the three events in which you will compete. Many local YMCA’s or fitness clubs have swim classes they call “Master Swim” classes. They are not very expensive and they are available to swimmers of all fitness levels and swimming abilities. This is a GREAT way to start your base training for the Triathlon. You will have a coach there who will assign drills, help with technique and prepare an entire hour long workout for you. If this doesn’t get your swimming endurance up, I don’t know what will! Once you feel comfortable in the pool, take the skills you have learned into the open water, as most swims for Triathlons take place in open water (lakes, oceans, ponds, etc.) If you want to become a faster swimmer in open water, you MUST practice in open water.
Next event…the bike! Depending on where you live (cold or warm climate), you may want to begin your base training for your bike on a bike trainer that you can set up in front of your TV and ride away, or even join a spinning class a couple days a week at the local gym. This will give you an idea of how fast your cadence should be and can help increase your stamina on the bike, since spinning classes are 45 minutes to an hour long, and you can ride for as long as you want in your living room. However, once the weather clears (if that is an issue in your area), get out on the bike and ride, ride, ride. I highly recommend getting out on the roads as soon as possible as it will better simulate the course you’ll be competing on than will a trainer or spinning class. You can also purchase Spinerval DVD’s to play while you are on your trainer at home. They are choreographed, coached video’s that will cue you when to change gears, sprint, hill climb, etc. Just another secret weapon to add to your basic training bag of tricks!
Finally, the run! Be sure when you run that you are gradually increasing your mileage. You have probably read this before, but you should only increase your weekly mileage by 10% each week. Those are very small increments and will help you train safely without getting hurt. Also, for a Sprint Triathlon, running 3 times a week is PLENTY. With all of the other cross-training you are doing, you don’t want to risk incurring any overuse injuries. I would even recommend taking one of those weekly runs to a treadmill, trail, or elliptical machine. This way, you are saving your joints from a day of impact on the hard concrete.
As you get closer to race “training” time, you will want to add some brick workouts so you are putting two of the disciplines together in one workout. This is ESPECIALLY important for the transition from the bike to the run, as that is the hardest on the legs.
Now that I have given you and idea of what your “base training” should look like, you should know that base training is not a component of training that is going to necessarily make you faster, but it will make you stronger and give you more endurance to last through the longer races, should you choose to eventually compete in an International Distance, Half or even Full Ironman Triathlon. The factors that will make you faster will be the speed workouts, the drills and the continuous practice and refining of skills.
Another idea that I will give you (speaking from experience) is to go online and look up local Triathlon Groups/Teams. I myself belong to an incredible team of women, Team EnVision, who I trained with when I lived in Massachusetts. Most teams like this welcome ALL levels, and have coaches for each discipline who are very encouraging/supportive. There’s nothing wrong with signing up and recruiting your own cheering section and fan club!!! Just makes crossing your FIRST finish line that much sweeter!
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