Training Tips

Basic Swimming Tips

The aim of our program is to lower resistance as you swim, if this can be developed over a period of time then you will swim more efficiently, save energy and leave you a lot fresher when transitioning onto the bike leg of your Triathlon.

There are three key areas to helping you swim faster, smoother, longer and more efficiently through the water, these are:

  1. Lengthen your pull: the further distance the body travels per stroke means fewer strokes needed to complete the swim distance in competitions. You must catch the stroke properly in the first instance to start a more powerful catch phase and have your body travel over your hand rather then have your hand slip under your body. This often happens if the fingers are open and the hand is slipping through a cloud of bubbles and water after a sloppy hand entry.
  2. Stop relying on your legs to keep you afloat and propel you forwards, the legs do neither very well. Even the best leg kick in the world can only add a tiny proportion in forwards propulsion compared to that generated from the arms.
  3. Start to swim on your side, especially the upper body. This will lower your frontal area of resistance, bring into play the stronger muscles of the back for a stronger pull and automatically lengthen your stroke.

Catch Up Drill

Finger Trail Drill

Bilateral Bubble, Bubble, Breathe Drill

 


 

Basic Cycling Tips

Remember: to be a good triathlete, do the training you NEED to do, not just the training you LIKE to do. Cycling is a vast subject. Here are just a few keys to a good bike leg in a triathlon:

  • Fast cadence
  • Good handling skills
  • Aerodynamic position
  • A good power-to-weight ratio

If you're an inexperienced cyclist, here are your priorities:

  • Your bike should be comfortable to ride for at least two hours - this means you should be well fitted on it, and the saddle should be appropriate. A good bike shop will sort you out on both these.
  • Your bike should be in good roadworthy condition - no rattles, squeaks and bits falling off. Again, a bike shop will help you here if you are new to bike mechanics.
  • Remembering you have to run afterwards and modifying your race effort with that in mind.

Cycling can seem daunting when you're new to it. All those components and accessories. Special wheels, handlebars, tyres - special everything and anything. Carbon this and titanium that. When in doubt, keep it simple. That applies to training as much as it applies to the bike you choose. Once you have a well-fitted comfortable bike to ride, there are one or two basics that will make training and racing easier:

  • Bike shorts - lycra, with a pad. As you ride more, you will appreciate the comfort factor. It's better to train in comfort than in discomfort.
  • Clipless pedals with shoes. A cleat on the sole of the shoe inserts into a sprung mechanism on the pedal, holding your foot tight. This was developed from the idea of ski-boots clipped into bindings on skis and once you are used to it is much better than the traditional toe-clips and straps (hence 'clipless' pedals).
  • Sunglasses keep grit, dust and the wind out of your eyes and reduce the stress in your neck muscles.
Key cycling terminology
Cadence A minimum of 90 rpm is considered ideal for efficient cycling - it puts less stress on your anaerobic system. Teach yourself to pedal fast ALL the time and your efficiency will improve no end.
Good handling skills Time can be lost in corners, dead turns, on descents. The more 'technical' the course the more potential for time gained for free by not slowing down in these areas.
Aerodynamic position At speeds of over about 18mph aerodynamics are an issue, but the most important thing still is comfort. A very low position may gain you time, but if it takes several minutes on the run to get the crick out of your neck and unstiffen your low back, you've wasted it.
Power-to-weight ratio Are you carrying a brick up those hills? A couple of kilos of fat on your body haul you downwards. A light, powerful rider will go faster up hills than a heavy, powerful rider. If you're skinny, build up power. If you're carrying excess baggage, it makes sense to lose it!

 


 

Basic Running Tips

Running for Triathlon

Remember: to be a good triathlete, do the training you NEED to do, not just the training you LIKE to do.

Running in a triathlon means running after cycling hard for 20k or 40k and staying strong right through. Arguably the toughest discpline to get right, triathlon running requires far more than just speed.

Producing a good run split rather than just hanging on is one of the hallmarks of a triathlete. It’s also worth bearing in mind that running is a skill, and if you do it well - practise the skills - you will run easier.

How do you know if your run split is doing you justice? If you run regularly, and you know your currrent 10k time - say you can generally run 40 minutes for 10k - then anything more than 10% slower in a race means you need to pay attention to your run. More than 44 minutes for your triathlon 10k, in this example, would mean you need to work on your running.

Triathlon running is, for many athletes, not a question of fast you can run, but how little you slow down. For this reason, conditioning and skill are key. The basics are:

  • running off the bike
  • staying strong on the run
  • running with maximum efficiency

Running off the bike
Without getting too technical, cycling is quadriceps dominant, running is hamstring dominant. So your body uses one set of muscles for 80 minutes or so, then is required to use the OPPOSITE set of muscles at the drop of a hat. This requires a lot of specific practice. Over time, your body will get used to making that switch, but the more often you practise running after riding, the easier it becomes. Be creative. Do turbo-run sets - they don’t have to be intense. Warm up for a long run on the turbo or by riding round the block a couple of times.

Staying strong on the run
This requires both run-specific training and also dealing with whatever weaknesses that conspire to slow you down. In the first case, improving muscular endurance. In the second, strengthening your body in the most relevant way. Here, it is often necessary to find out what your weaknesses are, then taking action. A strong core is absolutely vital to improve resilience, stop your stride from shortening and your head and shoulders from drooping. Even if you haven’t got tons of speed, you will still run faster - or slow down less - than ‘fast’ runners whose bodies start to collapse under fatigue, while you stay strong and steady.

Maximum efficiency
Developing a good stride underneath a perfectly balanced body will gain you seconds every mile and cause you to fatigue less. This requires mental focus in training rather than physical hard work, and an awareness of what drills to do and how to build them into your running. And good core stability!