In the first of a new series, Race Space team member and passionate triathlete and coach, Chris Wallace discusses the key challenges that amateur triathletes can face and offers his advice on how to overcome these obstacles and excel in your target race…
For any athlete training for a triathlon, the one component that money can’t buy is time. With three sports to train for, together with strength and conditioning and recovery days, the challenge of training for a triathlon can often seem daunting for newcomers to the sport. Fitting training around already busy work, family, and social lives can be a difficult endeavour…
However, the challenge need not be insurmountable if athletes follow the following tips:
Be honest with yourself: The first key step for any amateur triathlete is to honestly evaluate how much time they will be able to dedicate to training. While this may be difficult for any athlete to predict, if you can honestly safeguard a set amount of time each week, this will allow you to plan key sessions effectively and ensure consistency. This will remove the usual stress of chasing training hours and questioning of whether you are training enough. Instead, any additional time you can dedicate during the week to training will always be seen as a bonus!
Be time-efficient: The key to maximising the amount of time you can dedicate to training is to try and fit it in to your daily routine where possible. It could be using your commute for a run session or using your workplace gym for a lunchtime spin class. Through effective planning, athletes can often fit in more training hours than they had previously thought without disrupting their work, family, and social lives.
Consistency is key: It’s far more beneficial for an athlete to maintain a consistent training volume each week, rather than undertaking huge training weeks, followed by long periods of inactivity. Consistency of training allows an athlete’s body to gradually adapt to the training stimulus they apply. It’s inevitable that during certain weeks, training will need to take a backseat to work, family or social commitments. Very often athletes will panic and look to try to compensate for missed sessions in the following week. This overtraining is a recipe for injury and illness! It is important to recognise that improvements don’t come from a single training session but from months of consistent training.
Use a coach: One of the biggest challenges for time-pressured athletes can be planning and monitoring your own training. If you’re on your own, you will never think you’re doing enough and will likely over train, burnout or get injured. Having an expert in your corner who can monitor and review your training and progress, tailor your training plan to your goals and lifestyle, and offer technical advice and instruction can be an invaluable investment, ensuring you make the most of your training time and providing a constant monitor and feedback point on how you’re performing. It’s incredibly reassuring to know you have someone experienced and knowledgeable to turn to with any questions or issues you might have. Athletes can often spend hundreds of pounds looking to make marginal gains through more aerodynamic or technically advanced equipment, without realising that for a fraction of this cost, they can make serious improvements through developing the main engine, themselves!
Don’t sabotage your training: In the hours you’re not training, it’s very easy to neglect the other key aspects of training: nutrition and recovery. Training hard places a stress on the body, and unlike the professionals, amateur triathletes have to combine this training stress with the other stresses that come from busy work, family and social lives. It’s therefore crucial that you provide the optimum conditions for your body to deal with and cope with these stresses through ensuring that you are fuelling your body with the right macro and micro nutrients and getting sufficient sleep. It’s only through providing these optimal conditions that your body can adapt to the stress of training and thus you can realise the performance gains you’re seeking!
Have fun: For any amateur triathlete, it’s sometimes important that the reason we do triathlon is the love of the sport! Very often, triathletes can find that the pressures of hectic schedules and missed sessions can cause them to become stressed and unhappy. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and realise that training, while sometimes tough, should always be fun! Don’t be afraid to take break from training to recharge the batteries. You’ll often find the fire will be burning even brighter when you return to training!
As part of this new blog series, I look forward to sharing further advice to aid you along every step of your triathlon journey, from technical training tips, to equipment advice, to race-day nutrition!
If you’re still not certain which event you’d like to make your big target for the season, join me for the next blog where I’ll be discussing how to go about planning your next big race…