Phil Graves shares his training secrets.
Triathlon is such a new sport that none of us are really triathletes, more swimmers, cyclists or runners who simply get through the other two sports that don’t come as naturally. I’m lucky to have two sports that I seem pretty even in – swimming and cycling – even though I started out swimming and running as a youngster. As soon as I took up cycling, those quads of mine decided they much preferred making me go fast on a bike out in the countryside rather than on an athletics track. I was destined for Robert Förstemann legs (the German track sprinter with 28-inch quads) rather than those of Mo Farah.
So, obviously I need to improve my running, but where are you going to start if you want to improve your weakest discipline? There are three key things you have to do to achieve success in that sport that you have always sort of sucked at.
Firstly, you have to get inspired. Go and watch a running, swimming or cycling event live and you will be left in awe at how easily Mo Farah glides along a 10,000m, or how Bradley Wiggins flies around a time trial. We have the opportunity to go to so many great British sporting events, and if we can’t make it in person the BBC and ITV cover more sport than ever so there’s no reason not to at least have a look at your weakest discipline and be inspired.
Secondly, use this motivation to join a running club, group ride or masters’ swim squad. Training in a group is one of the best ways to bring on your weakest sport, and it has to be one of the reasons why my cycling overtook my running and swimming so quickly in my teens. We have an awesome group of guys in York who turn out each week and smash each other on a Saturday. That one ride a week is so much fun, you find yourself going harder than in any race, mainly because you want to see your friends suffer and get dropped. At the end of the day, though, everyone who sets out makes it back with the group; they are a caring group of guys, and I’m sure there are thousands of these little training groups all around the UK just waiting to welcome you in.
So once you’ve found your group, what next? Enter some races. We are lucky in this country to have weekly 5km Park Runs in many cities now, a great way to track your running fitness and make progress. There are thousands of Cycling Time Trial (ctt.org.uk) events throughout the UK from distances of 10 miles to 24-hour races. And if you are lucky enough to live down south where the water in summer is warm enough, then there are an increasing number of open-water swim events for you to enter. No excuses for you not to race an event where you normally don’t feel at home!
Thirdly, and most importantly, when you are training for your weakest disipline, don’t shy away from doing the intense training you know will make you better. One reason for training in a group is you will inevitably go harder, either from racing your friends or trying to impress that good-looking girl or guy in the training group, but often we shy away from working hard on our weakest disipline because it hurts too much. Sure, I hate running hard; track sessions are the most painful thing in the world, but I know they’ll bring me on. When it comes to cycling pain, however, I love it. The feeling of riding hard on a bike until you feel sick – I can’t get enough!
So there you go, my three tips for improving your weakest discipline. I think the key is finding a group with a good-looking girl or guy that will keep you going to the sessions week in, week out and mean you will try super hard every session in the bid to try impress them*! Genius eh? Happy training!
*This foolproof training method has a Philip Graves Guarantee attached to it. It has been tried and tested throughout the world and I promise you it will work!
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