The mistakes you make when training are felt mostly in racing. Here’s how to stop making the 10 most common multisport mistakes.
All athletes want to improve their performance. The biggest improvements come from eliminating mistakes and, rest assured, everyone make mistakes. There are a few mistakes you can avoid to make your training and racing smoother – whether you’re an elite or a beginner athlete.
The causes for such mistakes usually are: misinterpreting instructions, training myths and products overblown performance claims. But, more often than not, it’s sheer enthusiasm that makes a athlete their own worst enemy. That’s not to say being passionate about triathlon is a bad thing. Being determined to perform well is great, but sometimes that eagerness can lead you to make misguided decisions.
If you’re prepared, you will be able to avoid those mistakes, that’s why we put together a list of the 10 most common mistakes, read carefully and use it!
1 – Increasing training volume too quickly
Improvements come quickly when you first start training; the increased activity soon shows itself in your aerobic fitness. This is especially for more experienced age group athletes who are returning to sport after a long break of little or no activity.
But don’t fall into the trap of thinking “if some training is good, more must be better” This path will lead you to overtraining or injury. Limit any increase in volume to 3-5% of your total weekly load, and make sure you have a week of recovery after 3 weeks of build.
2 – Relying on technology instead of training and technique
There are a lot of very light, very aero and very expensive gadgets available. While some of it will make a difference, it'll never be a substitute for the correct training and good technique.
Achieving excellence takes time. Be patient. Work on your bike skills, swim stroke, and your running, while slowly increasing the distance and speed you train and the improvements will come. Flexing your credit card regularly only makes minor, cosmetic performance gains.
3 – Concentrating on your strongest discipline
The better you are at something, the easier is to do, and the more you enjoy it. However the danger is that you neglect to practice the things you’re not so good at in favor of the things you are.
Every training session is an opportunity to gain a competitive edge and improve some aspect of your swim, bike and run performance. Don’t ignore your strong disciplines, but you can make more improvements in the areas that aren’t up to par. Remember: work on your weaknesses and your strengths will take care of themselves.
4 – Ignoring stretching and injury prevention
It’s easy to imagine you’re invincible when your training and racing is going well. But you’ll soon find out how easy and frustrating it is to get injured by talking to athletes who’ve been in the sport for some time. Take time to develop flexibility around your key joints, and build up strong core and lower back muscles. An experienced PT can give you a muscular skeletal screen to measure your stability and flexibility in the key areas – hips, back, ankles and shoulders.
They can use this information to suggest a strength and conditioning programme of injury prevention and performance enhancing exercises, and get you to work those muscles safely.
5 – Avoiding speed work
Triathlon is an endurance sport, but it’s also a race, which means speed is important. It’s speed that makes the difference between competing in the race and simply participating in an event
Your race preparation isn’t complete if there isn’t some short, high speed training mixed in with your long, slow work geared towards increasing your aerobic efficiency. Training to improve your speed has two benefits. One, it gets you accustomed to functioning at speed, so you don’t just chug around at training pace when race day arrives. And two, a greater top speed means your base speed – the speed you spend most time training at – will increase.
6 – Training hard isn’t an excuse to eat whatever you like
What you eat today swims, cycles and runs tomorrow. Eat junk and you get junk performances. You have to put high-quality fuel in your engine if you want high-quality performances.
7 – Not taking time to rest and recover
You have to give your body a chance to adapt to the training loads before their effects are felt.
This means resting and recovering properly. Ensure you’re getting all the sleep you need, eating well and stretching are all important, as are days with no, or only very light, training.
Massage, Jacuzzi and doing some other sports just for fun are also helpful and give your body the breaks it needs to recover.
Effective recovery increases the rate at which your body adapts to the stresses you place upon it in training. This has two benefits:
* You can train harder (quality)
* You can train more (quantity)
Everyone becomes tired and fatigued after a lot of training; that isn’t a bad thing. But being overtired and carrying fatigue from one session to another is a sign of real problems. Recovery is as much about monitoring your fatigue as it is about doing things to overcome it.
Sleep is perhaps the most important element. Get to know how much sleep you need to feel fully rested and recharged, and make sure you get it, even if it means taking naps during the day.
8 – Training at too high of intensity
It’s easy to get carried away and work too hard in training. Be disciplined and only do the training you’re supposed to, at the intensity level you’re suppose to do it.
Work too hard and you’ll soon find you’re overtraining, putting too much stress on your body that it can’t fully recover.
You can measure your training intensity in various ways. You can train at specific pace, time your efforts, use a HR monitor or by perceived effort. It’s how hard you work, not how far or fast you go, that’s the key to train well.
9 – Not planning an integrated, balanced training program
It’s important to remember you’re training for triathlon, not just a swimming race, followed by a bike race and then a running race. Each discipline has its own demands but ultimately they should all feed into one cohesive triathlon training unit.
Treating each sport separately can cause problems – a hard swim, for example, puts just as much stress on your body as a hard run. So don’t make the mistake of thinking two hard sessions in one day is wise just because they’re different disciplines and use different muscles. Integrate your training so you can balance out the demands of each sport and bring the improvements in each together on race day.
10 – Be realistic
Not everyone has the same athletic ability or level of fitness. Take it easy if you’re coming back to sport after a long period away. Jumping straight back in and trying to train like an Olympian will only end in another long break – this time due to injury.
You can learn a lot from watching top athletes and mimicking the way they do things. But their success is based on years spent gradually adapting to and increasing their training. It’s foolish to apply their regime to yourself in the hope of reproducing their level of performance. Apply only that which is appropriate to you and your training background.