TRIATHLON 101 – IT’S MORE THAN JUST A SWIM, BIKE & RUN…
So first off things have been going great! I have been training really well with Ryan Sissons as we head into the International season, and we’ve also recruited Tom Davison as he strives towards the Commonwealth Games qualifier as well. We have been back and forth from Cambridge and Wanaka training hard. We are now at the Snow Farm again in Wanaka doing altitude training before our first World Cup of the season in New Plymouth on the 22nd of March. Then two weeks later, it’s the first of the World Series in Auckland which is bound to be a ripper of a race!
Since my last post on Kinloch, there’s been no time for a rest! We headed down to Christchurch for the ITU race; this time though it was me taking out the sprint in a tight finish with training partner Ryan Sissons. After that it was back to business though. There’s no letting down this season, no time to let go for a week, its full noise this season and we have a brilliant team around us.
From My Perspective – Lessons I’ve Learnt:
So here we go, after eight years of triathlon racing around the world, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot from training with different groups of people! Here’s a few little lessons I’ve learnt along the way:
1) Hold yourself back
I see young ones so talented, or even older ones who don’t know the world of “professionalism” yet. They are all so good at swimming (in the pool, and yes they can beat me in training), on a bike are so strong, and when they’re running they’re so fresh. Individually you’d think they’re going to be an amazing triathlete, but there is so much more than just being there and smashing each session. I get beaten nearly every session in training, but that’s not the point, I know I have got at least four more gears I can rev up at anytime. The hardest thing to do as an athlete is HOLD YOURSELF BACK! Anyone can go out and smash themselves and others in training, but no medals are won in training.
2) Triathlons are more than just one race
You have to decipher every little piece of a triathlon. It’s so different to just a swimming race, a cycle race or a running race – each piece has to work together:
The Swim: The first part is the start of the swim – being able to swim that first 50-100m of the swim very fast then settling into a nice pace. This is very different to a 1500m pool swim; your arms have to have a high turnover. Since an open water swim, drafting is key! If you know how to draft and where to draft – then you don’t need to be all that strong; you just need to know where to sit. This is what Ryan Sissons does very well. He knows he’s not the best swimmer out, but as long as he can get his first 50m up, then find hips to draft of, the will be fine. So the biggest thing to think about with the swim – it is not about being a fast pool swimmer – you need to be smart. It doesn’t matter if you can swim a sub 60 second 100, if you can’t draft and are scared of getting hit, then you are out the back!
Another very important discipline in triathlon is the TRANSITION. You have to be able to somehow find your legs out of the swim to sprint to your bike. If you’re even ten seconds back from the leader, chances are that you have missed the front bunch; now you are going to be fighting it out for 8th place instead of 1st! Getting your wetsuit off as quick as possible and helmet on should be practised just as much if you aren’t great at it.
The Bike: The start of the bike is insanely fast and hard. You have to practice being able to push 450-500 watts for the first 5 minutes to either catch the bunch or create the break away. After that it’s all about positioning yourself and rolling around as a group. A few non drafting athletes have found out how hard it really is, and they think we are weak cyclists! It’s not about sitting at a consistent pace, it’s about being able to be at your threshold then go hard when at the front, then roll back to threshold. And you’ve got to do that for an entire 40km!
The Run: Again transition is important because being at the front of the race can give you a huge boost! We are talking about going out of the first 1km at a 2.40 pace, then settling back to a 2.50-2.55 pace per km. Again, people come and train with us on an easy steady run and will try run as fast as they can because they think we do in training. WRONG! If you want to beat us you will get your chance….in a race.
So there’s a lot of strategy that goes into the actual race, but that’s just the race. People forget the key elements that also go into all of this…
3) Eat well
This includes nutrition down to a tee! It’s eating at the right times and eating the right things, you’ll soon find out how you run on Coke or KFC (usually not so great). We eat so much but it’s all planned, it’s all about eating at the right time around training and getting the right carbohydrates/proteins and vitamins in. It makes such a difference to your performance – I see a lot of guys still eating crap food and am never surprised when they are going slower in training!
4) Rest is crucial!
People underrate this so much! If you train, the only way you’re going to get a benefit from that session and get better is by putting the right fuel back in the body and resting it so it can re-build better! We get called weak sometimes by other athletes (usually not great ones) because we don’t get up at 5am every morning and train but if if we have all day to do so then we don’t need to! It’s simple: your body needs the sleep/rest and will get up when it thinks it’s “ready to go again”.
So conclusion of this piece: It doesn’t matter if you are training all day, if you are not getting the right fuel in and getting the right amount of rest you won’t reach your peak!
Sleep Tips: I have been doing a lot of things lately to allow myself to perform at maximum (and you can call it crazy but hey, I want to be number 1 in the world!). I try not to look at TV, phones or laptops around 1-2 hours before I go to bed as these will keep you awake, and every little bit of rest is needed.
Here’s a little fact for you – we have around 3 REM (deep sleeps) per night, 1 is usually before midnight then 1am then around 3am, but everybody seems to miss the first deep sleep before midnight, due to the fact of still being “aroused” or thinking too much by things going on the outside world. The first deep sleep is the most important for the body to get its optimal sleep.
Next thing I’ve done is to get rid of all my “Wi-Fi” things like my phone and laptop out of my room at nights, since studies have shown that having these items close to you while you sleep or even in your pocket (as I found out when I got told off) can mess with your hormones, which we need immensely as we train every day!
So there you have it, a bit of knowledge on the things that go on behind closed doors, – it’s so much more than simply a swim, bike and run!