Preparing for your triathlon…3 weeks to go!
“Unless you test yourself, you stagnate. Unless you try to go way beyond what you’ve been able to do before, you won’t develop and grow. When you go for it 100 percent, when you don’t have that fear of ‘what if I fail,’ that’s when you learn. That’s when you’re really living.” Mark Allen
The quote above is from Mark Allen considered by most in the sport to be the greatest Triathlete of all time. It captures the beauty and the challenge of taking on a Triathlon. So as your race gets closer the first thing you should do is give yourself a massive pat on the back for having the courage to step out of your comfort zone and take on the awesome and daunting challenge of a Triathlon. You will find it exhilarating and you will feel like “you’re really living”.
In terms of more practical tips for preparing for your race the rest of this article will take you through the key things to focus on with 3-4 weeks to go. There’s still time to get at least 2-3 weeks of quality, smart training in so here’s a few key principles to follow:
1) Take The Easy Days Very Easy – When you have planned a recovery day (which should be 2-3 per week (when doing challenging sessions on the other days), make sure you go as easy as you can during your workouts on those easy days. If you go too hard on these days, you fatigue, and don’t allow proper recovery of your body and energy systems. This will limit your ability to work your body on your next hard day due to lingering fatigue. This sub-par performance during your key day typically results in testing yourself on the next recovery day which begins a nasty cycle of what coaches call “grey zone” training. Training in this grey zone is not challenging enough to build fitness and is not easy enough to elicit recovery and build endurance. Make the hard days hard, and the easy days VERY easy.
2) Descend Everything – Every single session, workout, set, mile, or KM you do should be paced to finish strong. This includes everything from recovery runs to repeats at the track. The purpose of this is to ingrain that behaviour for racing, and allow your body and energy systems to progressively adapt to more and more challenging work.
3) Make the Hard Days Hard – Your hard days should be VERY hard. That is, at a sustainable best effort. Remember, #1 and #2 above still applies here. Therefore, if you set out to do 5 x 1 mile repeats, do them at the best possible effort (pace) you can sustain for all 5 repeats. If you pace your workout properly, the last repeat should be run at an all-out effort but result in a time/pace equal, or slightly faster than the previous 4.
4) Sleep at least 7.5 hours per night – Training breaks your body down. Rest and nutrition build you up. This is a no brainer. Training is useless without proper rest (and nutrition).
5) Have a Training Plan – I quite often see people approach their training without a plan to look forward at. All training should have a specific purpose depending on the time of year and your personal areas of improvement, and possess a gradual buildup of volume prior to peaking for your major “A” races. Without this plan, too many folks increase volume or intensity too quickly or too soon and end up injured. Remember, unreasonable build-ups lead to injury, injury reduces consistency, and consistency is the key to unlock your potential. Write down your planned training over the next few weeks leading into your race or if you are unsure ask an experienced athlete for help or seek the help of a coach. There is no magic – smart training works.
6) Have a Race Day Plan – Don’t leave planning your race day until the night before – that’s not going to end well. Write down all the kit you will use on race day and make sure it’s all ready and in good working order. If your bike hasn’t been used much then try and get it serviced at your local bike shop to make sure it’s in the best condition for race day. Similarly make sure you have good quality shoes and race kit ready for race day. Write down and plan all the necessary logistics like the race venue and make sure you have planned how to get there in plenty of time. With 3-4 weeks to go now is the perfect time to plan everything out. Here’s a suggested list of race day essentials:
- Wetsuit or swim suit
- Swim goggles
- Bike shoes
- Run shoes
- Towel to place running shoes and gels for run, stand on when you change
- Bottles – With High Carb drinks for racing with, after race recovery bottles – High Carbs, protein, electrolytes
- Energy gels/bars
- Toilet paper
- Race clothes
- Race numbers
- Plastic bags to cover stuff in case of rain
- Wetsuit friendly lubricant – to stop chaffing
Good luck with your training and your race!
Coach Musty has been helping triathletes of all standards to train and race to the best of their potential for over 26 years. If you have any questions or are interested in more tailored support for your next Triathlon please contact me on Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: coachmusty.com