Triathlon, the secret to finding the perfect balance

Triathlon & Open Water
Written by: arena coaches at 29 May '15 0
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What I have learnt training for the triathlon is that the secret behind a great race lies in the quality of your weekly training.

As we have already seen in our first article “The road to success starts here“, planning plays a key role. This should include: work on developing/maintaining your aerobic capacity, quality work and recovery time.

It is often thought that training more means you are more likely to be successful. Wrong! The real key to success in the triathlon is finding the right balance between recovery time and high-quality training sessions.

A good plan should include:

1. A winter period focusing on technique and physical fitness, as well as improving your endurance.

2. A spring period including both over-distance and quality work

3. A summer period with high-intensity quality training sessions and test races.

Recovery: this is the real key during all three of these periods. Your body will tell you how intensely and for how long you can train. Ignoring the signals it sends out would be a big mistake, so: rest when necessary!
The thing I have learnt during training is that your body needs different stimuli other than conventional training. If you want to improve your fitness, try including the following in your weekly sessions:

  • Changes of pace: adapt your training by incorporating changes of pace, like, for example, 30” accelerations every 2-5 minutes. This will help your body become more efficient and your nervous system will get used to more intense efforts.
  • Against the clock: after planning an intense week of swimming, cycling and running, test yourself in each discipline, for example over a 5 km run or 10 minute run. This will tell you what can of shape you are really in.

Finally, I suggest you include four sessions in your weekly training plan that allow you to balance out the quality of your training perfectly:

1. Speed work: swim against the clock at least once a week and include some high intensity sessions

2. Sets of 5×100 m fast freestyle at a steady pace with 20” rest. Or alternate aerobic work (e.g. 400 m freestyle with 30” rest) and intense work (e.g. 6/8×50 m fast freestyle with 20” rest).

3. Work on your basic aerobic conditioning. Do not focus solely on high-intensity work but also keep up endurance training for all three disciplines. This kind of work should constitute approximately 70% of your training and will enable you to handle quality work more easily.

4. Run “in pain”. The running leg of a triathlon is all about pain, so train to cope with this kind of discomfort. At least once a week get used to running with sore legs after a hard training session (swimming or cycling) the day before.

5. Use a turbo trainer. When it is raining outside and you do not have much time to train on the bike, do some sessions on the turbo trainer instead of riding out on the road. This will allow you to focus specifically on both intensity and your riding position for races.


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arena coaches

Swim coaches, trainers and experts will give you all kinds of tips for performing at your best in both training and races.