The triathlon. Many people are scared off by this multi-discipline endurance event, typically because of the need to master 3 sports and the sheer volume of exercise. However, this article is going to provide a few little tips, both nutritional and fitness, on how to conquer either that first triathlon or smash your personal best.
Firstly, when training for a triathlon, you’d be forgiven for now knowing where to begin. The level you’re at obviously determines your training status. But everyone has to start from somewhere, so take it slow, and ease yourself into the hard training scheme. When designing your training programme, ensure you start with low distances and then every couple of weeks slowly start increasing your distances (Running: 10min/2-3km; Cycling: 30min/10-15km; Swimming: 150-200m). Build up your distances until you reach a level where you are at around 150% of the competition individual distances.
Stepping Things Up
Once you’ve reached these distances, although you may want to, it’s not necessary to continue increasing them, but you can start picking the speed up and trying to knock time off the distances. One thing to note is that many people find swimming continuously the most challenging, and therefore your swimming distance may be quite low. Don’t worry, stick at it and it WILL get better.
Top Tips on Nutrition
Secondly, like all other sporting competitions, nutrition is extremely important. The ideal triathlete is lean and has a high power to body weight ratio. To achieve this you need to be strict on yourself and follow 5 rules:
1. Plan your meals: Planning in advance makes meal time more organised and less time consuming. It also avoid panic cooking something lacking nutritional clout.
2. Keep on top of carbs: Don’t over use carbs just because you’re training more. Eat your carbs around training, a small portion both pre and post exercise.
3. Hunger is your friend: Avoid snacking and grazing. Eat 5 or 6 small meals a day. Use water to put off hunger and don’t forget hunger makes food taste better.
4. Mix it up: Eat a variety of foods. Don’t let the same dull meals defeat you day in and day out. Try new stuff to keep your brain interested.
5. Treat yourself: Don’t cut out treats completely, allow yourself to have a treat once or twice a week, just make sure you work it off. Swap your chocolate for dark chocolate, and swap the pint for a glass of wine.
Training for Power
Lastly, don’t completely avoid the weights or high intensity training. You still need a lot of power in triathlon. Both your shoulders in swimming and legs in cycling need the potential to sprint for that line. In your plan, over your two week period, use a 2:1 ratio of cardio to power (sprint) sessions in each discipline. If you’re a well-trained athlete already, you can complete the 2:1 ratio over just a one week period. Alongside these 9 sessions, implement 2 weight sessions, if your starting out just do a full body session once a week, if your well-trained fit both of the weight sessions over one week, just ensure you leave 3 days between each to gain maximum recovery.
If you follow these three tips, you will be guaranteed to complete that first triathlon, or rack up those PBs. Remember, if it’s your first one, start at the sprint distance, don’t go straight for the ironman!