We all want to go faster, whether it’s to win your Age Group in your next race, improve your PB, beat your mates or just nail a Strava segment to get that much desired Kudos, the drive to go faster is high. Don’t just keep doing what you’re doing, sure it might get you faster eventually, but there are ways you can accelerate your improvement. If you are smart about it your competition won’t even know….until race day when BAM, you hit them with this new level of performance.
So what are these secrets??
Train your weaknesses and race your strengths
I love this philosophy. It’s the most effective way to create the complete athlete. We all have strengths and weaknesses and we know that to improve something we have to work on it however it’s all too easy to resort to training those activities that we are good at.
Know your weaknesses
If you know swimming is a weakness and you know you don’t swim enough volume, or you have technique improvements to make, then substitute one of your preferred non-swim workouts for an additional swim session. Or perhaps stay for another 15 minutes at the pool and work on your technique drills. If you know you need to improve your open water skills then join an Ocean Swim clinic, or enter an Open Water Swim race.
If you feel you aren’t able to maintain the same power in your aero position as you can riding sitting upright then spend more time aero. You might even need to book an appointment for a bike fit where you can make fine adjustments to enable you to stay comfortable, strong and aerodynamic.
A lot of people struggle running hills. If this is you then don’t head to your 400m track to hit out some Threshold 400’s, instead head to the hills and perform a similar Threshold intensity session on a hill that is of a similar duration to your 400m rep.
Gain confidence in your less favoured disciplines
Training this way means that on race day you will line up confident in your overall ability as what was once a weakness may now be almost as strong as your favoured discipline. You can now form a race plan, confident that your strength is where you will solidify your position in the field, but you certainly won’t be let down by what was once a weakness.
This may feel a little bit airey fairey for some but visualisation can be a powerful tool to help you achieve positive outcomes.
Visualise the course, conditions & competition
In the months, weeks and days before the race you should be visualising what you might be doing in the race at certain points…How will you feel? Who’s around you? What’s the weather? Visualise a successful race. Visualise race morning, transitions, the course. Visualise how you want your race to go but also visualise what you will do if something goes wrong, like dropping a drink bottle or getting a flat tyre. We don’t know what’s going to happen in a race but if you have worked through dozens of race scenarios and formed an understanding of how you will cope should something happen, you will immediately switch into the mode you need to be in to deal with it.
Then it all clicks
Visualisation is a learned skill that you should practice regularly and one day something will click, the stars will align, the celestial powers will be focused on you, and that race plan you had been thinking through will take place… as you foresaw it. Visualisation and positive affirmation is an important technique and one worth adding to your repertoire.
How many times have you heard “Back in my day we didn’t have all these fancy gadgets…..” Triathlon has had a rapid growth and the competition has progressed. Technology is a wonderful thing, adopt it, learn it, embrace it. Wetsuits, bikes, shoes, suits, googles, nutrition – everything has had a major makeover since the birth of triathlon. A lot of science has been invested into understanding how we can eek out a little extra from various parts of the race. An investment in technology can help you manage your racing and training better and give you the edge you were looking for.
Do your research
Find the technology that works for you. Do some research. Talk to others. Once you have invested make sure you are making the most of that investment by understanding all the features that are built in so you can use it to give you that extra edge.
Technology enhances not replaces
Technology doesn’t omit the need for athletes to understand what various paces feel like. Use technology to get a better understanding and improve your sense of feel.
If the budget allows, get into it and make the most of today’s technology…..just remember to charge your device batteries before the race, the future isn’t quite here yet with life long battery power.
Don’t change a winning formula
**ok, I realise this does contradict my opening statements to some degree, but for a few of you it’s relevant, so keep reading anyway.**
You may have had a couple of good races, maybe knocked over a few PB’s, finished strong, beaten your mates. That’s all good then, why start looking around to make changes?
Don’t fix what isn’t broke. If you are having some good results then it’s clear that your body is responding well to what you are doing. Changing training now can turn this all around and lead to injury, over training or backwards progress. The time to change is when you have become stagnant not while things are moving forward.
Do what the Pro’s do
Talk to some of the great Pro’s in the sport, they will perform the same session routine week in week out, year after year after year. You could almost pinpoint on a given day of the week exactly where they are located, how far through the session they are and what time they will be due home. These athletes know what works for them, and don’t see a need to shift off that path.
Train and race single sports
Triathletes are good at triathlon but most would not be considered experts at swimming, cycling or running. Racing the individual sports can provide great insight into what makes athletes successful in each discipline, much of which can improve your triathlon performance if applied correctly.
Learn from the experts
Racing in cycle races provides race situations that you will never come across in triathlon but the training stimulus will have a great effect on your overall performance. Watch how the front riders handle the changes in pace, climbing, drafting. Learn how to turn the pedals over more efficiently because cyclists are far more efficient at this than triathletes.
Get into some Open Water Swim races. The field is far more diverse, spreads out quicker and without the bike and run to worry about you can put yourself outside your comfort zone, practice holding onto feet and changing your stroke to meet the conditions.
Hone your race craft
Running races against pure runners exposes you to skilful pacers. Runners understand how to hold back at the beginning, and how to dig really deep so they can blaze past in the final kilometres making it look effortless in the process.