I’ve been fortunate to have successful triathlon seasons in 2013 and 2014, setting personal bests across all distances. Below are some of the key elements that have led to my success.
Dedicated Base Building Period
Starting the season easy with mostly Zone 2 training creates an extended period of low intensity training, when combined with some strength work can set up your season very well. This takes a lot of patience because you feel very fresh and it’s very tempting to hammer it, but I believe it’s a mistake to have too much intensity too early in the season, and I see that a lot. It’s important to let go of the ego, accept that you are not race fit (why do you need to be in January?) and trust the process. Having a period of lower intensity training is a nice mental break from harder workouts, and also there are important physiological benefits too. At this intensity you are using your slow twitch muscle fibers which improves the ability to use fat for fuel, making your use of available energy stores more efficient. A strong base/aerobic system is absolutely critical for endurance athletes.
Here is a link to an article talking about the benefits of Z2 training
Using A Coach
For the last 2 years I have had a coach to guide my training. This has allowed me to simply execute my training without having to make daily decisions about what training I should be doing and avoid the ‘decision fatigue’ that comes along with thinking about that. Also, my coach has pushed me harder than I would have pushed myself and this has redefined my limits.
Here is an article on the top 7 reasons for using a coach
Greatly Improved Sleeping Habits
This has not been an easy change to make, and it’s an ongoing battle, but wow what a difference it makes! It allows me to be very consistent with my training and have the energy to handle the hard workouts. I’ve become a morning person which I’ve never been in my life before.
Cleaner eating, including way more fruits and vegetables than I have ever eaten before, contributed significantly to my daily energy and overall health.
Consistent Training Month-After-Month
Using a coach, adequate sleep/rest,d and improved nutrition all contribute to consistent training and that is probably THE biggest key to success.
Mental Performance and Self-Belief
For all the physical training that we do it’s amazing how much our state of mind plays a key role. We all have self-imposed limits and it’s so important to challenge those limits and try to break them down because we can do so much more than we think we can. I often see my athletes surprise themselves with what they can achieve. That applies to training and racing. It’s important to allow ourselves to dream and use those dreams to drive our willingness and motivation. After 15 years as a triathlete, I’m seeing results that I would not have thought realistic yet there they are. I still have plenty of work to do with my mental performance and self-belief but more and more, when I think of some tough goals, I think ‘Why not and why not me?’.
I hope some of this can be helpful for you to improve in 2015. If you have any questions about any of these keys to success feel free to send me a note and I’d be happy to expand.