As triathlon season in North America comes to a close, planning your season for 2015 starts becoming more and more important. After a break it is time to get back to work and chase bigger and better things next year. I have had a lot of people come to me recently and ask how they can better prepare for their main races next year. The most important thing to do when planning ahead is to look back at what you have done in the past. There are always things that work well for you and for the most part they should be continued. However, too often there are mistakes being made over and over again that are causing athletes to look back at their season and wonder why the work they put in didn’t translate to results. Here are a few common triathlon training mistakes to avoid.
1. Don’t run all your runs at the same pace.
This is possibly the most common mistake of all. It is easy to get sucked into running the same pace but it is not beneficial for your training. If you are assigned an easier run then it is important not to run too hard. By doing this, you are ensuring when it is time for your hard run you are able to hit your targets and put the stress on your body you are supposed to. It is also important to listen to your body. If you have been having a rough day or week it is not the end of the world if your aerobic run is slower than usual. Pushing yourself too hard in these workouts is detrimental to the rest of your training.
2. DO NOT rely on doing brick workouts
There are large parties for and against doing brick workouts within the triathlon community. Although bricks do have their place for some, far too many athletes rely on doing too many, and the wrong kind of brick workouts. I came across an athlete who was asking for advice on how to get through his long brick workouts because he kept hitting the wall and was extremely fatigued following his workouts. After asking him why he felt the need to do brick workouts he responded by saying ‘because that is what we do in triathlon.’ It is true, in a race you are required to run off the bike. Luckily you are not required to do it during training. Contrary to popular belief you are not going to become a better runner in a triathlon by running off the bike in training. Rather, in order to become a better runner in triathlon, you need to become a better runner in general. That means getting more quality miles in. The cons of running off the bike severely outweigh the pros in most cases. Rather than doing brick workouts, arrange your daily workouts in order of stress placed on your body (run, bike, swim).
3. Don’t mistake riding for training
The third mistake I hear a lot is people mistaking time in the saddle for training hours. Yes time in the saddle is important but soft pedaling to and from work is not going to help you push out any extra watts in your next race. By the same token, a lot of people are stuck in their ways of not riding hard enough on the bike during their training rides. Obviously this is dependent on your goals, but if you are including recovery rides (rather than aerobic intensity rides) into your weekly training schedule it might be time to reevaluate your training.
4. Don’t follow the crowd
Most of the mistakes people make with their triathlon training come from following others who are also putting themselves at a disadvantage. There are some training plans out there that may seem like the gold standard because they have been around for a long time and there are still people that swear by them despite having little success with them. The problem with these plans is that they are dated. As the literature has developed, so too has the approach to triathlon training.
These are some of the more common mistakes being made by triathletes everywhere. If you tick some of these boxes it may be time to break from the constraints of your old training methods to give yourself the best chance of success into the future. Sometimes a small change to your preparation can make a big difference come race day.