By Wendy Mader, Tailwind Coach
Fundamental Training Tips
Training is meant to prepare you for race day. Consistency and progression are the fundamental variables every athlete should focus on when training for an event – the gradual progression of frequency, duration and intensity is what builds fitness!
It’s super important to mold your training plan to your life schedule versus trying to fit your life around your training plan – otherwise you probably won’t stick to your plan.
How often, how long and how intense you train is dependent on your goals, experience and availability to train. Finding what works for you as an individual is important. Some athletes prefer shorter, higher intensity training while other athletes gain strength and fitness with lower intensity and higher volume. Training for endurance is more important than speed. Train for your current ability, not your future ability!
Prioritize consistency above all. I have been a triathlete for 28 years and I know my success stems from consistency and purposeful training!
Training Plan Tips
Schedule your training sessions based on the your time constraints, areas needing improvement and level of experience. Triathlon training plan progressions are generally 8-24 weeks long depending on the distance you’re preparing for.
When scheduling your week, first plan your rest day. Next add any group workouts you plan to join. Then fill in the best days to swim since that is dependent on your pool schedule. Finally, add in a longer bike and run session. Group workouts are a great way to get in longer sessions!
Aim to have an even distribution of workouts when your schedule allows – try not to go more than two days without doing a sport, as well as not have consecutive days of the same sport. For example, if you swim Monday, aim to swim again by Thursday. If you can run three days a week, it’s best for them not to be on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
When advancing your triathlon training, incorporate a gradual progression of frequency, duration and intensity.
The Importance of Nutrition
It’s paramount to follow a solid day-to-day nutrition plan in conjunction with triathlon training. Keep things healthy and simple. Don’t restrict yourself in terms of calories and macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fast). Eat a balanced macronutrient dense diet of whole foods and don’t fall for fads – both with diet and supplements.
Fueling includes calories you take in during and immediately after training which replaces muscle glycogen stores (the energy source for long and intense training). Nutrition and fueling are important for training and race performance as well as recovery. Immediately following a long or intense training session, a recovery mix of protein and carbohydrate will maximize recovery.
Recovery is all about jump starting the process. If you don’t consume a nutrient dense meal or snack between workout sessions, recovery periods will take longer and your immunity can be comprised!
Training, Racing & Recovering with Tailwind
If my workout is longer than 60 minutes, I carry a bottle of Endurance Fuel with me. My goal when I compete is about 50 grams of carbohydrate per hour. Depending on how long my training session or race is, I modify the amount of Endurance Fuel in each bottle.
With the high intensity of sprint distances, we burn carbohydrates for fuel, so I sip Endurance Fuel during the bike which helps fuel the run.
- For an Olympic distance triathlon I use two bottles with one scoop each in each bottle. I drink about six ounces every 15 minutes.
- For a 70.3 (Half Ironman), I carry two bottles with two scoops of Endurance Fuel on my bike and I pick up one to two bottles of water on the course at aid stations.
- For an Ironman, I start with two bottles of Endurance Fuel with three scoops per bottle and pick up two more in my special needs bag around the halfway point, relying on water bottles at aid stations. I also have a bottle in T2, the transition from bike to run, and sip it while I run.
After triathlon training sessions and events, I prepare a bottle of Rebuild mixed with almond milk. Consuming a dairy free protein/carbohydrate mix is important for me to start the repair and recovery process.
Tips for Success
- Don’t forget strength training, core stability and hip mobility. Strength training makes you stronger and able to tolerate higher training volumes, helps reduce your risk of injury and increases efficiency.
- Trust your training and advice from coaches.
- Simulate race day with hydration, nutrition with brick workouts.
- Get the right bike and the right fit.
- Get to know your bike and be your own mechanic.
- Prioritize sleep – it’s the number one method of recovery adaptation.
- You can never go too easy on your recovery workouts.
Planning is Key
As with most things in life, planning is key. The following list describes common setbacks that will happen in training or race day and tips to deal with them:
- If you are cramping, ingest some salt and water and slow down.
- If you get a side stitch you might be shallow breathing, so relax and take some deep breaths.
- Don’t let the weather or terrain get in the way of your fitness. Plan for every event to be hot, windy and hilly.
- If you don’t handle heat well consider stuffing ice down your tri suit or in your hat and pour water over your head at every aid station.
- If your energy drops significantly, your blood sugar is probably low and you should take in some calories.
- A slight headwind on the bike is out of your control and may really irritate you. Remember, everyone else has to deal with the same headwind and your negative response to it can drain your energy.
- A slightly cooler water temperature might make you breathless and panic. Warm up and acclimate to the colder water before your wave starts.
- Flat tires and other mechanicals will happen. Be sure to practice the basics before race day.
- You might get injured or sick the week before your event. Remember, triathlon is a lifestyle. If you miss an event due to illness or injury, continue to train and sign up for another event when you are healthy!
- Your mind is very powerful – it can be your best friend or worst enemy. Take advantage of this and use your head, not your fitness, for the final portion of your race. Don’t forget to smile for your finish line photo!
- Always remember to do what you love, love what you do!