Triathlon Training Mistakes to Avoid

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.




Hy-Vee Elite Cup 2014

It has been a while since I can say I was really disappointed with a race. The conclusion that I came to in Des Moines was that I finished, I am healthy and I got to do what I love. For that, the day is never that bad.

If the race had ended at the first turn buoy I would have been very pleased. I was sitting nicely in the lead few guys around the first turn right on Ivan Rana’s feet and feeling like I was going to have a great swim. Then everything went downhill-fast. I began to get really light headed in the water and felt for a second I might pass out. Obviously swimming in a large pack of guys in open water fighting for a lot of money is not the place you want to be when you start feeling faint. I panicked and kept screaming at myself to just BREATHE. Thankfully I was able to regain some composure and push on. I swam with Rudy Von Berg until just before the next turn buoy but then started slipping fast. Things never recovered from there and I ended up exiting the water in 29th and feeling absolutely terrible.

Having the confidence from some good bike splits this year I was hoping to bike hard and pick up some places. Unfortunately that didn’t happen. It became apparent pretty quickly that today wasn’t going to be a great day in the water or on the bike. After pushing 25 fewer watts (8%less) than my last Olympic Distance race on a similar flat course, I got off the bike feeling really dejected but trying to convince myself maybe I could run fast and pick up some places. Instead, I spent the next 34 minutes desperately looking for mile markers and pleading for the finish line to come closer. At the end of the day I finished 29th in 1:54:23.

Race results here

Although I am extremely disappointed with my result in Des Moines, I also understand that bad races happen. Racing 10 times this summer has been a lot. Getting tired at some point was inevitable. The amount of travel and the stresses of missing my bike and luggage finally caught up with me and put me in a hole, but that’s OK. This year has been a huge learning experience for me. There are absolutely things I can do better in the future to ensure I erase some of those stresses and I am looking forward to continuing to learn, grow and get better. I can take a lot of pride from qualifying for such a prestigious event in my first year as a pro and as the second youngest athlete on the start line and I am extremely driven to get back there. For now, it’s time for a small break before I reevaluate the end of my year.

I would like to give a huge thanks to Hy-Vee for continuing to support the sport of triathlon. Finally, to everyone that sent me a message this week wishing me the best or talking with me post race, as always, I really appreciate it.