We have asked Jeanne Collonge, a French professional triathlete and two times Ironman champion, the mistakes you should not make during your preparation and your triathlon race.
What are the common mistakes a triathlete can make during his/her preparation?
First of all, I think many triathletes want to do too much to reassure themselves. With the social networks now, a lot of triathletes like to share their training and it seems like a race for the one who will do the most. This is a big mistake. More is not always better. It is more likely that you get tired both mentally and physically, and that you don’t achieve the desired performance. You should think about training wisely. For my coach, the moto « no pain no gain » is totally wrong.
Then, another mistake I see around me is the management of injuries. When your body is telling you to rest, or that you are doing too much or not properly and that it cannot handle it, you should listen to it. Being a triathlete, it’s hard to accept to rest, so we would rather continue even if we feel a little pain. I think it should be the other way around, we should listen carefully to our body and stop when we feel a little pain so that it doesn’t become a big injury. Again, it’s a question a being wise.
Nutrition can be mistaken sometimes… Many triathletes think they must be light to be strong, but for an Ironman you need energy to hold the distance. So some athletes are too skinny at the beginning of their race and they fall apart.
If you forget to try your nutrition during training before the race, you can have bad surprises on race day. It’s important to know what you can take or not, drink and food, because during a race your stomach supports even less than usual.
Same advice for the gear! Try it during the preparation not to have injuries on race day.
And during the race ?
One mistake we can make is to be carried away by enthusiasm in the first part of the race, especially if there are lots of people cheering, and then suffer a lot from that loss of energy… it’s important to be careful on our own pace and respect it.
Nutrition again: learn before the race what you’re gonna eat and drink and follow that plan. A bad stomachache can waste your race and it’s very frustrating.
Do your own race… long-distance triathlons are a solo effort, even if you compete against other athletes. If someone passes you super fast, and you don’t follow your own pace just to follow him, you’re gonna blow out sooner or later. And you never know if that other athlete who passed you a few hours ago is really in the pace he can hold for long.
Et enfin, quels seraient tes conseils pour être le mieux préparé mentalement et physiquement, et pour anticiper (quand cela est possible) certains imprévus
And finally…What advice would you give to prepare mentally (and physically) for the race? How do you prepare (when possible) for the unexpected? 😉
Before a race, whatever it is, you need to find you « mental sweet spot », which is this place where you are feeling charged up by the pressure and anticipation but not overwhelmed by it, where you are relaxed within the nervousness (actually Mark Allen said that in an article I read and it describes exactly what I feel). Everybody is different, some people need to do a mental preparation, some need sophrology, and others need to find by themselves.
Physically, you have to trust your coach and follow his/her training plan. Most of the success is a matter of mutual trust between the trainer and the trainee. Also, I think it is also important to follow what your body tells you, even though most of the time you are used not to listening to it. But sometimes if you feel tired, if you miss some more time with your family or friends, if you are late on your job, it’s better to change your priority. It will be more useful to skip a session and feel better the next day. Don’t try to squeeze in a session that will have no positive effect.
Regarding the fact of anticipating some contingencies, the best way to avoid being thrown off is to stay very calm whatever happens, and never panic. It’s a loss of energy and mental toughness, and it’s everything you need to be strong!