A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to present to a group of athletes who are gearing up for the 2014 Nations Triathlon on September 7th. The presentation had a familiar format in which I, with the help of two of my triathlon club members, laid out a handful of beginner tips for the group:
· What to bring in your transition bag
· How to train for the bike leg
· Don’t forget to stretch!
After the clinic, I began to think back on the first season that I really started to train for triathlon, as opposed to an individual sport or just working out. It got me thinking about what I wish I had known or had done differently back then. I even asked my wife, who completed her first sprint triathlon last year, what were the best pieces of advice we would pass on to a newbie triathlete.
The three best pieces of advice that we came up with are this:
1. Follow a plan – It doesn’t matter where the plan is from (ie: the internet, a coach, a book, wherever). Just having a road map that will get you from A-to-B is going to make your journey to the finish line much simpler and better.
2. Practice open water swimming – Swimming is often the Achilles’ heal of triathletes, even for people with a comfortable pool-swimming background. It is also often the most challenging thing to practice, as finding open water in which it is legal/safe to swim can be hard. However, I think that getting some experience swimming outside the pool is a must for new athletes and should be practiced by experienced athletes as well.
3. Don’t underestimate the bike leg – If you think about it, in a triathlon you are riding a bicycle for the majority of the race. It is where smaller increases in power, efficiency, and endurance can translate into the biggest decreases in overall time. Having a good bike leg also effects how you run off the bike as well. For the athlete how has limited time to train, focusing extra time on cycling will pay dividends in their next race.
As I write this article, I am also a few weeks out from racing Nations Tri as the culmination of my season. Looking back on the training that I have done so far this season, I find that I have followed my own advice, and have been happy with the results in the races that I have done so far. Now in a few more weeks I hope that I can bring it all together and finish strong at Hains Point.
To view the presentation form the Nation’s Tri Triathlon 101 clinic, click here