I Had breakfast at One Lombard Street a few weeks ago. Next to me I overheard talk of triathlon training. The conversation seemed to centre on who had the best kit and how much it cost. That didn’t bother me, but the insight I got into their training did.
They were all smashing the treadmill for hours at a time, cycling to Brighton and back at the weekend and eating enough pasta to sustain an Italian village for a month.
These guys were seriously competitive but they seemed to be falling for some of the myths of triathlon training, and they’ll never reach their PBs if they carry on like this. The frustrating thing is that it’s neither complicated nor costly to prepare in the right way.
Here are my four top tips to training for a triathlon and avoiding the pitfalls:
People who do triathlons tend to get really obsessed with the core techniques; swimming, cycling and running. It’s understandable but it always comes at the expense of strength training simply because there are not enough hours in the day. From my experience, if you constructively strength train to complement these disciplines you become a much more efficient athlete. You don’t have to commit loads of time to this. For example, doing 20 minutes of squats, lunges or dead lifts will make you stronger and reduce the chance of injury. Also progress to some power exercises such as jump squats and medicine ball work.
Move away from the pasta
People think they need to load up on pasta the day before a race or when they’re training. But pasta is not a health food; it’s not good for you. It’s nutrition-less empty calories. Gluten, a constituent of pasta, is poor for the gut and in most of us will affect the absorption of the nutrients that are vital for good recovery. It also puts more stress on an already stressed body. Carb up at dinner the day before longer sessions, and the meal after, but get the carbs from root veg and, in particular, sweet potatoes. At other times base your diet around meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and vegetables.
Also bin the poor quality sports drinks. If the event is under 60 minutes, there’s no need. For anything longer, I would suggest water with dextrose and some added salt. Just as important are branch-chain amino acids. During and after training these stop muscle breakdown and boost muscle recovery.
Less is more – really
People do way too many miles in training. It’s about quality, not quantity. Swap some of your long slow-duration training sessions for sprints. Incorporate some sessions with 100m/200m/400m sprints interspersed with long rests. It will make you a quicker and stronger athlete and you’ll recover a lot better.
Stretch, baby, stretch
Very few people stretch and mobilise enough. You’re probably someone who sits down all day so you’re already going to have some muscle imbalances. Hunch over a bike for a few hours and you’re asking for trouble. Of course, it might not always end up in injury but it will impede your ability to push harder and go faster. Mobilising the ankles, hips and thoracic spine will make a difference when you’re pushing for that PB. Check out mobilitywad.com for guidance on the above. Until next time. Lay off the pasta, cut down the miles and pump some iron.
Tim Drummond Personal Training is a body composition and weight loss specialist with studios in Belgravia and the City; 07823 697 605; timdrummondpt.com
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