The Top 11 Triathlon Training Mistakes That Triathletes Make
Have you ever wondered why triathlon training sometimes never seems to make you
faster? Perhaps you’re at a plateau, or even seeing increasingly worse race times or
performances. Maybe you just wrapped up the last season, and you simply feel like you
didn’t perform as well as you could have.
If this describes you, then it is entirely possible that you’ve committed one of the top 11
triathlon training mistakes that the experts over at the Rock Star Triathlete Academy at
http://www.rockstartriathlete.com have identified.
Here’s the list (and by the way, I’m personally GUILTY of all these mistakes!):
1. Never Throwing Curveballs.
This error is committed by the triathletes who get into a comfort rut – simply mindlessly
performing the exercises and workouts that allow them to mount a bike, strap on the
running shoes, pull on the swimsuit or head to the gym and just cruise with no focus.
They never throw a triathlon training curveball at their body, so their body eventually
becomes incredibly efficient at these same ol’ workouts. Sure, you should occasionally
perform tried and true workouts that allow you to create a benchmark to identify
progress in your training, but you don’t want to do those workouts all the time. Here’s a
simple fix: this week, pick one training session for each skill (swim/bike/run/resistance
training) and throw a complete triathlon training curveball at your body by randomly
choosing a workout out of a magazine, article, or website. Do it, and see how your body
responds. Nine times out of ten, a random workout that keeps your body guessing will
make you leaner, stronger and faster.
2. Exercising to Eat
If the goal of your triathlon training is simply to burn calories, so that you can get to your
next meal or snack – then boy, are you in trouble! What happens is that this mentality
creates a weekly slog of performing workouts that focus not on performance, but rather
on beating up your body. The result is injury, overtraining, mental fatigue, and boredom,
along with a continuous vicious cycle of eating too much, then over-exercising to fix
your errors. Try this: eat a healthy diet, stop when you are 80% full, and then completely
forget about burning calories during your workout. Instead, focus on a specific
performance goal for that triathlon training session, whether it be overspeed, muscular
endurance, power, or strength. Your triathlon training will instantly become more
meaningful and rewarding.
3. High Carb Diet from the 80′s
Are you still eating bagels with jam for breakfast, shoveling pasta down on a Friday
night to get ready for your weekend long triathlon training, or eating big bowls of cereal
for breakfast? This type of high carb fueling has been heavily associated with increasing
your chronic disease risk factors, causing inflammation, GI distress and poor
performance. Good fats and lean proteins will serve you much better. Next time you’re
at a coffeeshop, grab a bag of almonds and a cup of green tea, rather than a coffee and
biscotti. You’ll feel much better, and your energy and performance levels will soar.
4. No Strength Training
Sure, most of the pro triathletes you see may look like lean, skinny guys and girls who
have never touched a weight in their life, but the reality is that strength training goes far
beyond football style deadlifts, squats and benchpress, Do you do fire hydrants? How
about elastic band walks? Rotator cuff rotations? Planks? All this requires no weights,
but is still considered resistance training, and is incredibly beneficial for your triathlon
training program. Don’t get fooled into thinking that strength training is bad for you –
most of those studies were done with heavy dumbbells and barbells, not the more
precise body weight and elastic type resistances you should be using.
5. Ignoring Data
Do you know the power from your last bike session? OK, so maybe you haven’t
invested in a power meter, but what about your speed and distance? Heart rate? Do
you know your average 100m pace in the pool for your priority race distance? Do you
know your per mile pace in your long run, or do you ever take a GPS out with you?
You’re living in an age where data is fairly inexpensive, easy to get, easy to interpret,
and highly beneficial. Take advantage of this and at least give yourself some baseline
pace and heart rate measurements so you can track your triathlon training progress.
6. Obsessing Over Data
Of course, you may also be the person who needs to cut every workout short by forty-
five minutes because you know that’s how long it’s going to take to download all the
data onto your computer and sit there analyzing it. There is no rule that you need to
know the precise measurements for every, single workout. As a matter of fact,
unplugging yourself and just going for a long run in nothing but your shorts and t-shirt
can be incredibly gratifying. Especially when there’s no beeps, whistles, or alarms
sounding. Choose the most important triathlon training workouts of the week, and
simply focus on getting the data out of those sessions.
7. Not Racing Enough
This especially holds true for longer distances. Literally hundreds of rookie Ironman or
Half Ironman athletes stand on the starting line of their big, prioritized race having done
absolutely no racing leading up to that point. This is often due to fear of injury, not
wanting to lose a “training week”, or simply not knowing how to schedule a race in. But
racing is one of the most valuable triathlon training tools you have! It teaches you
mental toughness, proper transitions, race day fueling, and perhaps most importantly,
how to get all those butterflies in your stomach to fly in order. Try to race at least two or
three times before your “big” race.
8. Racing Too Much
There are also those triathletes who drool over the race calendar and check off nearly
every weekend with competition, from sprints to Olympics to 5K’s to half-marathons.
Not only does this subject your body to a volume of intensity that will probably cause it
to break about halfway through the year, but it also decreases your chance of ever
having a really “good” race, and instead just having a large handful of mediocre
performance. And those of you with families are guaranteeing that your wife or children
will regret the fact that every vacation has to be a “triathlon vacation”. Choose and
commit to a small number of good races, then focus on excelling at those events. You’ll
have more medals, less injuries, and higher quality triathlon training at the end of the
9. Not Practicing Transitions
If you glance over the race results for any triathlon, you’ll notice some individuals with
smoking fast swim, bike and run times who completely lost a podium spot or a personal
best because they spent an extra few minutes in transition. Those minutes can really
add up. An extra 60 seconds in transition at an Olympic distance race means you’ll
have to run almost 10 seconds per mile faster to catch the person who was able to
shave a minute. Inserting just a few “transition”practice sessions at your local beach,
park, golf course, backyard or driveway will pay off. Practice both swim-to-bike and
bike-to-run changes during your triathlon training. This is one area of a triathlon where
you can be just as good as the pros!
10. Winging It Nutritionally
You’re asking for big trouble if you’re going into a race or race day with absolutely no
plan but to eat and drink when you’re hungry or thirsty. Not only will you have no
consistency with your nutrition, but you’ll have no confidence about whether you’re
taking in too little or too much. Not only should you write down your pre-race meal and
fueling plan, but you should also go over it again and again in your head while you’re
lying in bed the night before the race (not to mention including it in your weeks of
triathlon training leading up to the race). This mental preparation will stick with you on
race day when you’re deciding on whether you need to eat that extra gel, or it’s just
going to give you a stomachache.
11. Nutritional Rigidity
At the same time, if you decide that you’re going to stick to your nutrition plan no matter
what, then you could also be asking for trouble. What if it’s hotter than usual and you
decided not to take any salt tablets out with you on the course, or an extra water bottle?
What if the bike course is easier and faster than you planned, but you still decide to try
to shove in six gels during the ride? What if you planned on getting a banana at the aid
station turnaround, but there are no bananas? Be ready and flexible with your nutrition
plan, and these type of situations won’t do as much damage to your race. Practice with
differing amounts of fuel and fuel types in your triathlon training and you’ll be ready for
What do you think? Are you at fault of committing any of the top eleven triathlon training
mistakes? Now, skim through that list again. What can you change? Now is the time to
If you have questions about how you can avoid these mistakes, and begin making
changes in your program, then you should surf over to the Rock Star Triathlete
Academy at http://www.rockstartriathlete.com, where there is even more free
triathlon training advice to make you rock.
The Rock Star Triathlete Academy features free, live teleconferences with top triathlon
coaches and pros, where you can ask your triathlon training questions live, in real time!
You can sign-up to get a free alert about the triathlon training teleconference dates and
times at http://www.rockstartriathlete.com. Space is limited, so be sure to sign-up
now at http://www.rockstartriathlete.com.
If you’d like a FREE newsletter and weekly audio podcast from the author of this article,
simply visit http://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com. For more personalized online fitness
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