Many triathletes suffer from being weak in one discipline or find that lack of time stops them from achieving their peak. Evie Serventi has some useful advice.
Want to improve at triathlon but finding one particular discipline more difficult than the other two, or do you feel that you’re not able to fit in all of your training? Plan in advance to make sure you can achieve your race-day goals. Preparation and planning are both important. Firstly, sit down and work out how many hours you have available for training per week/month, and factor in work, family, other commitments. Then assess your ability/level regarding swimming, cycling and running – and relate this to the event you are training for. For example, if you’re a weak swimmer and you are aiming to race in Age Group qualifying races (sprint distance) you won’t need as many hours in the pool as you would if you were training for a 70.3, but you could work on transition speeds which could save precious seconds in a sprint tri. Equally, if you’re a strong swimmer and you are training for an Olympic distance triathlon, you might find you need to prioritise cycling and running and keep swim sessions ticking over – as improvements on the bike could mean gaining minutes as opposed to seconds in the swim.
When it comes to improving in each discipline, Level 2 triathlon coach Kevin Draper (www.swimbikerungb) suggests balancing of technique work alongside (cardio/strength) fitness work is key: ‘I’d suggest dedicating 10 per cent to 15 per cent of most sessions on some aspect of technique (drills, focus on form). Getting the right balance of types of training, for example, long/easy runs, threshold, intervals, strength, mobility and so on is also really important.’ Kevin points out that it’s easy just to focus on what you enjoy or find easiest, which in some ways can help to keep you motivated, yet you’ll soon find large discrepancies between disciplines, which can lead to feeling de-motivated and some anxiety as you realise, you’re running out of time to work on the discipline that most needs it!
It’s challenging to dedicate equal amounts of time to each discipline, and as mentioned above, you may not need to, depending on where you’re at when you start. If you are, however, finding you are out on the bike a lot more than in the pool, despite knowing it’s swimming you need to work on more, be strategic: review each week’s training so you are up to speed with exactly how much effort/time you are dedicating to each discipline, then work out how you can swap a ride for a swim. It comes down to being organised and pre-planning. If you struggle to motivate yourself to get out on the bike despite needing to focus on cycling more than swimming/running, organise to ride out with a friend or club member – or group. Some triathletes use club rides or a run as a carrot – if they know they need to work harder on cycling and running, meeting up for a group session is often easier than going out alone. That can leave you with more time to choose swim times that suit you.