While training and racing I have often thought about the most important components of fitness in order to perform in the sport of triathlon. Is it endurance? Speed and power? Nutrition? Technique and skill? Mental toughness? The reality is that they all are important. Any given one can be the weak link that ruins your performance.
First and foremost, you need endurance to be able to cover the distance. It’s not necessary to complete the distance before the race or event, but it is important to do 50 to 75 percent before race day. Most marathoners run 18 to 20 miles as their long run to get ready for a marathon. The important thing is that you get substantial training time under your belt.
Speed and power also are required to go fast. You may need more power just to make it over some of the tougher climbs. The offseason, when it’s cold outside, is a great time to focus on building power through strength training.
Nutrition is important to achieve optimal body composition, fuel, recovery from workouts, and most importantly, power you through races. Race nutrition can be especially tricky during long races since eating too much can be as much of a problem as eating too little. If you get the nutrition right, you are almost guaranteed to make it to the finish line. Get it wrong and no matter how fit you are, you might be staring at a DNF (Did Not Finish).
Technique cannot be ignored . When most people think of technique in regards to endurance sports, they usually think of swimming. But swimming isn’t the only sport where you can benefit from strong technique. Running, road and mountain biking can all require high levels of technique and practice. Good form can lead to “free speed” and efficiency.
The last component is mental toughness. The central governor’s theory includes the idea that the brain regulates your energy supply and that when your brain feels you are in danger of running low, it signals pain and tells your body to stop. Part of successful racing is visualizing how you are going to deal with the inevitability of pain. Knowing that you can push through it will help you manage these negative feelings. So, a key component to develop along with your physical training is visualization.
You might be asking, where do you find the time to work on everything. With a progressive periodized program including strength, nutrition and your primary sport, you balance workout time, intensity and frequency with different aspects of training at different times of the year.
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You can maintain technique, endurance and strength throughout the year by conducting one 90 minute to two-hour or longer workout per week. Adding speed and power workouts at the right time within your plan, after you developed a foundation with good technique, will be the determining factors into how fit you will become before your race.
In addition to strength training in the offseason, use this time to focus on body composition. It’s likely you’ll be doing less intensity, so you can afford to eat less and lose weight. This also is a good time to focus on technique. Drill-based workouts don’t require the level of energy that more difficult workouts require.
It can be overwhelming to prepare for endurance events. The best thing you can do is start to plan now, develop a base and go from there.
I hope you found this helpful. You’re are more than welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments or concerns – Coach Wendy
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About Author: Wendy Mader is the co-founder and owner of T2Coaching and has made a lifelong commitment to fitness, sports, coaching, and triathlon. From her youth as a competitive swimmer to her current career in the fitness industry, her dedication shines. Wendy is a former collegiate swimmer and has 25 years experience in triathlon including 15 Ironman’s. Wendy is also an Ironman University Certified Coach, an 8x Kona finisher and author of “How To Swim Faster in 30 Days“. Wendy recently moved to Georgia with her husband and dogs after nearly two decades living in Colorado.