Unless you're a professional triathlete, fitting in a schedule for competitions and training for them isn't clear-cut. There's no doubt that passion drives athletes from all walks of life to enter this unique sports arena. The energy and time pressures are daunting. However, the challenges are even more immense when balancing work, family, and an arduous program. Boiling it down, participation embraces three strenuous disciplines that depend on (a) Building long-term stamina (b) Within one's maximum speed capabilities.
Interestingly, non-triathlete-lookers-on are immediately impressed when they hear you completed a multi-mile long-distance course. They don't ask about the time - just that you got through it in one piece is mind-boggling to them. It's hard to explain that striving to improve your personal best time takes up all your thinking - far removed from simply finishing. It's called the competitive spirit, and it kicks into our DNA soon after we get into competition. For example, I'm a marathoner with times around two hours thirty minutes. Still, the time aspect seldom resonates with anyone other than long-distance adherents who understand what it takes to break even three hours over 26 miles.
Stay grounded and realistic
So, the point is this, when on the subject of engaging with triathlons:
- We are putting in the time and effort to perform at the peak of our performance capabilities.
- Therefore, it requires finding the optimal balance of stamina (to hang in through all three legs) in a time that represents a rating you're satisfied with.
I must alert you at this stage that being realistic is crucial. Unfortunately, many of us are dreamers, believing we can reach heights that our genetics will never allow, no matter how hard we train. Therefore, coming to terms with one’s natural long-distance athletic prowess is a good starting point.
Conversely, it's also true that many elite triathletes never knew their innate ability until they got into the training and contests. People with natural DNA made for these events quickly emerge, like cream rising to the top. So, discoverability always lies dormant in the background, waiting to push you to the forefront if you deserve to be there. The more you achieve in this sport, the more it encourages you to aim for the next level until you reach your maximum potential.
Triathlons, of all sports, demand an extraordinary level of dedication. Training the body to withstand the unique challenges of swimming, cycling, and running requires patience and a high tolerance for a trial-and-error process to get things on track. It becomes clear early on that we are not equally proficient at all disciplines, so we should devote more time to the ones that need improving. This takes careful planning with calculation and commitment. However, once established, nothing is cast in stone. As soon as your athleticism in the weaker legs improves, by all means shift gears to favor another.
Training represents the grind behind the sport. Getting oneself to spend hours on the road, thrashing open waters alone in inclement weather, and scaling hills on the bike is a challenge. But, you have to enjoy it, look forward to the next session, get antsy if the schedule somehow gets disrupted. Some would even say that the regimen triathletes follow is strangely addictive - an endorphin rush known as the long-distance athlete's high.
At the same time, triathletes can't abandon their other responsibilities - the spouse, kids, and work pressures. You have to fit it all in so that the close people in your life don't feel overly neglected.
- Sometimes it means waking up at 5 am to get two extra hours in.
- Maybe, if you have showers at work, run to the office instead of driving.
- If you're working remotely, use the traditional travel time (now gone) to train.
The bottom line is that it requires improvisation and thinking out of the box to create schedules that work for you. Also, consider a customized platform like the TriDot Training System. The latter deploys an algorithm technology to help athletes build training schedules that align with their lifestyles.
Training is a personal thing. Some need significant hours of long-slow distance to maximize rewards. Others prefer interval training and time trials to develop speed with less time covering considerable distances. Generally, athletes find that a stable distance weekly repetition emerges over time, providing enough stamina to cover the miles in a base time. After that, they rely on extra speed work to get that PB edge. As a result, injuries tend to pop up at the most inconvenient times as one steps up the intensity. Here are some helpful tips:
- Do it gradually. Speed verticals don't lend themselves to overnight fast results, nor does it tie into rapid recovery.
- Heavier schedules call for more recovery time, good sleep, and listening to your body. Don't ignore the fatigue signals left by lactic acid build-up. When that gets into the bones, there's not much you can do, especially on race day.
- The temptation is to cut recovery time when the truth of the matter is you should be adding it on.
- Somehow integrate other family members into the more relaxed sessions.
- Let them join you in slow jogs or pool laps.
- A cycle around the neighborhood, perhaps.
- Get them into the swing of things, even though it's at the fringes.