Triathlon – tips and tricks
Over time it seems I collected some ideas and info on Triathlon. Still new to all of it I believe it might be helpful to some. If not, well then at least I have a resource to read about it when needed.
general Triathlon advice
My best bets so far:
- Get a Coach, who is into Triathlon.
Even if you are a Pro and know about training, you still need a Coach. A Coach, who does not only create your training schedule, but who also monitors your progress, who cares and who wants you to improve. One can’t stress it enough, it’s crucial to do so.
- Have a doctor into sports.
Not only that, but choose a doctor, who is into Triathlon too (ideal) or generally into extensive sports. There is one type of doctor, who will tell you: No, you can’t or No, you shouldn’t. If you still do it, they wait until you have issues or are injured to tell you to stop. The other type of doctor supports you, thinks ahead and considers ways to help you prevent injury and over-training. The latter one will also support you to get back on track asap once you run into overtraining.
- Cope with overtraining
Since it happened to me too, I had to do some research – which included also talking with Pro’s. General feedback: one way or another everyone runs into overtraining to some extent by times. Just be wary and watch for the signals telling you to stop. Else you will have a long rest period. Too long.
- Learn to listen to your body.
Closely related to the last advice. Learn about training zones according your body and listen until you got a feel for yourself.
- Learn about pain.
At least I experienced it and was told by several others about it. Pain is a companion, when you are training Triathlon. There is the “good” pain in tough training sessions and there is the “bad” pain. “Bad” pain signals uprising injury or worse. I for myself had to learn about both types and for a long time I considered all sorts as “good” pain. Big mistake – read 4. again and learn to listen to your body. I still have to and feel like I am still at the beginning after more than a year.
- Learn to enjoy.
This one probably applies only to people similar to me, who need some kind of pressure. Over time I forgot somehow that I enjoy Triathlon. It became an addiction, but also some kind of work. This is very bad. Do never forget why you do it – you do it for yourself and because you enjoy doing it.
The winter season can be special like we experience it right now as of beginning of February 2012 in Germany. It’s dead cold with temperatures of -23°C and even less (in case the weather forecast is accurate). Tips and tricks for this time:
- Plan your training with the weather conditions in mind.
- There is no bad weather only bad clothes. You can run and bike at -20°C as long as your clothes suit those weather conditions. My recommendation:
- layered clothes: you only wear sports (functional) clothes. Just add more layers the colder it gets.
- polar buff: the polar buff (those tube scarfs) is your friend. Especially the polar buff can be worn by covering your face. Even at -20°C it can make you sweat and feel cuddly warm.
- legs: for running and biking I wear compression leggins as first layer, a Triathlon suit as second and as third layer running leggings respectively a soft shell bib. The one piece Triathlon suit makes sure your back is completely covered anytime and keeps your lowest layers together.
- Hands/biking: there is only one option for your hands on the bike – the Specialized sub zero gloves. Either have those or live with cold fingers on extensive rides.
- Shoes: When it’s really cold, even neoprene shoe covers don’t help. You need winter biking shoes. You’ll regret not having those.
- breathing: Breathing is an issue, when it gets cold. Take your breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Taking a deep breath of cold air through your mouth can really hurt and can be very unhealthy.
Right now my worst topic. Still some lessons I learned:
People tell you, you need technique. People tell you, you need to train your muscles (especially shoulders and back). People tell you to also train in neoprene suit. People tell you to train 3-stroke-breathing. People… Well, they are all right, but: nothing beats regular swimming. Go swimming 3-5 times a week and swim at least 1.5 km or a mile. Repeat: nothing beats regular swimming.
- Swim right!
Let us assume you swim regularly. The next most important thing is the “quality” of your swimming. To always work on and improve your technique. Swim in a group with a trainer or have a swim Coach at least once for every two weeks, ideally once a week. Consider this: months of training and you make a severe mistake in technique. You won’t be able to get rid of a bad technique you trained so much on short notice.
My personal experience on swim coaches is grand. A lot of former world class swimmers happen to work in a public bath. Don’t ask me why, but somehow it is true. There are extremely competent former world class swimmers out there, who will do everything to support you once they realize you are serious. And the best thing? Most are really thrilled by being able to help and do so way cheaper than you dare believe. Be nice and proove you are serious, I wish you the best to be similarly surprised like I was.
- Get a feel for your body and the water.
Not fighting the water but going with the flow. Phew that one is diffcult. When you are there you know what I mean. Until then there are a lot of training courses on getting a “feel for the water”. A major reassource for me is: http://www.swimsmooth.com/
- Find a suitable “picture” for your mind.
There are a lot of things for swimmers to think about, when swimming. A picture, which supports you to find your very “personal freestyle stroke”. To some it is the picture of water being made of “water cubes”. You grab a water cube and push it along your body. To others it is the picture of pulling yourself along a rope. Just imagine a rope from one poolside to the other and you just grab and pull yourself along that rope. In fact in Russia a lot of swimmers trained with a real rope to learn pulling themselves through the water.
Find a picture that suits you and stick to it.
I love my bicycle. Actually riding my bike is my fav at any temperature and almost any weather. My personal experience:
- Cleats and shoes:
You need a lot of bike shoes. First of all a road bike shoe with a stiff sole for biking in “ok”-weather, second a bike shoe for your mountain bike, third a Triathlon shoe and fourth a winter road bike shoe. If you fancy spinning you should also add a road bike shoe with a stiff sole for spinning. In regards to cleats (“click pedals”) you want SPD cleats for your mountain bike and spinning and LOOK cleats for your road bike and Triathlon needs. Personally I feel much better on the mountain bike with SPD cleats, while I have a better feel on my road and TT bike with LOOK cleats (greater base). This might be due to me pedaling with sometimes huge power on road and T bikes, where I feel the small SPD cleat in my foot and by times those SPD cleats break the sole of my shoe. Also I feel as if I can push harder on LOOK cleats. Hence why I use both systems.
- Proper clothes:
Normal cotton clothes – been there done it and disapprove. Nothing beats proper biking clothes – have a fit ready for most weather conditions.
- Your bike:
Most shops for bikes act as if they are pro, but in reality only try to sell you the bike they want you to buy. Look for a professional bike shop or have a personal professional advisor, who knows exactly which frame height you need and which saddle. Some shops claim that you need to try as many saddles until you got your perfect fit – bullshit. An expert measures your bum and tells you which one suits you. Having the wrong saddle kills your bike experience like having the wrong bike does.