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Biggest mistakes triathletes make when training.

Whether you are following a training plan, getting coached, or just doing whatever your mom's-best-friend's-sister's-dog's-cousin is telling you to do, there are a few key mistakes that we see made frequently. While we will always make mistakes, hopefully this will help you avoid making the biggest mistakes triathletes make while training!

1. Trying to 'make up' workouts

No, this isn't a personal attack.... but you know you do it. Your sister threw a big party, Shania Twain was in town, you slept in, whatever the excuse! You missed a workout right? and now you're thinking "Tomorrow I'm going to do yesterday's AND today's. I'll be all caught up and it'll be great!"

Running triathlon training
Stop trying to "make up" workouts

No. It will not be great.

As a coach this is the #1 thing we see athletes doing incorrectly. They have this overwhelming desire to make sure they do every workout, which is awesome, until one is missed. If you happen to miss a workout IT IS OKAY!! We all miss workouts, move on, and continue on your schedule for the coming days. Trying to "make up" the workout will cause problems in the training load on your body, and impact your next few days of workouts, even if you only try to make one up. Coaches design your plans with rest between workouts, sleep, and overall daily and weekly training loads in mind. You trying to catch up will alter your recovery and load levels, impacting everything else that was planned.

So just move on, and focus on your next workout! No "make ups".. It doesn't work like that.

2. Listen to your body or the training plan?

Running during triathlon training
Listen to the body

This is what causes point #1 to happen a lot. You're not feeling good, you've had a long day at work, everything hurts. It is OK to listen to your body! This scenario is why I urge athletes to find a coach that they can talk to 24/7. When this kind of thing comes up, you and your coach need to assess if the body needs a day to recover. Sometimes you just need to call it a day and pick up tomorrow (not making up for today). Giving your body the rest when it needs it will allow you to hit your next workouts harder than if you struggle through a workout and fatigue the body into a zombie wasteland.

On the other side of it, sometimes a workout is exactly what you need to flush some blood through your muscles and loosen up a little. I usually encourage my athletes to attempt the warm up of whatever is scheduled, or the first 20 minutes. If they still feel like garbage, the workout will probably be just that, garbage. Typically 60-70% of the time the athletes body loosens up and they make it through the workout. The call is up to you, but make sure to set the ego aside and truly listen to what your body needs, not what you want.

3. Not training the body for nutrition intake

Riding a Triathlon Bike
Train Nutrition Intake

Nutrition plays a major role in races, but does it play just as big of a role in your training? A lot of athletes struggle to realize that your stomach, just like your legs, needs to be trained too! The optimal nutrition load for a race is somewhere between 1-2 bottles of fluid an hour, plus 1-2 gels per hour for the average athlete. However, if you do nothing in training, and attempt this intake level during your race, you will end up in a port-o-potty for one reason or another.

During your longer training workouts, you need to begin training your body to accept higher intake levels of nutrition, and slowly increase these levels as your body adapts to them. Most athletes start out around 1 bottle of fluid every 90 min, and 1 gel every 90 minutes. Push yourself to lower those numbers so your body can have the nutrition it needs to preform at its best come race day!

4. No focus on swim technique, just clipping away the yards

swim form triathlon
Practice Proper Form Before Big Yardage

To run better, you run more, right? To ride better, you ride more, right? So to swim better.... swim more? NO!!

This applies to MOST triathletes. If you come from a swim background, lucky you, skip to number 5 and we will hope to catch you some time on the run.

For those that aren't blessed with a collegiate swim background, and even for some that did, swimming more may not be the best option. Consistently plugging away and 4000+yds at a time in the pool with poor form will not gain you much time come race day, and can possibly lead to shoulder problems/injuries. Find a coach who will analyze your swim form, and give you things to work on. Work on 1 or 2 things at the most per workout. Focus on one at a time for just 25 or 50 yards at a time. These workouts will have a bunch of reps (something like 30x25 or 20x50) so you can repeat the focused movement until you feel you have improved in the area you needed improving. Small yardage with big improvements is far better than huge yardage with poor form.

5. Transition practice

Triathlon Transition Practice
Transition Practice

I wrote another blog on this, I will link that at the end of this section.

In transition, athletes tend to spend so much time wondering where their bike is, how to get on their bike faster, what shoes they want to wear, etc. This is still part of the race!!

Head to an empty parking lot, make a plan, make a layout, and practice. Even 30 minutes a couple times each month can make a difference of a few minutes. Don't leave time sitting in transition. You will find so many small improvements in your transition times like which side to mount your bike from, easier ways to put your helmet and socks on, and maybe how to do flying mounts for those of you doing sprint and olympic distance! This is you time to find those precious seconds.

This is the first in a many part series! Come back for more each month! What other things do you wonder about or worry about with training? Shoot me a message!

We will continue helping you avoid the biggest mistakes triathletes make!

Are you looking for a coach to help you through all of these things and more? Branden Scheel Racing is accepting athletes who are looking to have FUN while getting the most out of the training they put in! Reach out and we will connect you with a coach today!

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