Currently, triathlon membership and participation is higher than at any other time. This huge wave of interest is seeing thousands of participants taking on the unique sporting challenge that starts with swimming, progresses to biking and finally ends with running.
Each event in the triathlon has its unique challenges. Therefore, each athlete must give adequate preparation to all events. Here are some triathlon training tips for the bike and run events:
1. Triathlon Training Tips For The Bike Event
The cycling leg requires special skill both in physical conditioning as well as handling the equipment used in this portion of the race.
(i) Selecting The Best Bike Fit
A proper bike is a critical component in the cycling event. In selecting the best bike, a novice must always consider comfort, rather than style. For such an athlete, a basic road bike would be far more beneficial than a specially designed triathlon bike. Although a time-trial bike has the capacity for higher speeds, it would require rigorous training and polished handling skills, which a beginner may not have. Have a look online for the right bike for you; there are many high end bikes such as Scott bikes available that can help with your training.
With continual use of a basic road bike, a beginner would develop his/ her bike-handling skills. The comfort and control provided by this bike also reduces chances of injury, while keeping the experience safe and enjoyable. More specific personal needs may be addressed by professional experts who are always willing to give useful triathlon training tips.
On the other hand, an experienced athlete should take advantage of the specially designed geometry and fit of the triathlon bike. Such a bike is designed to give faster speeds owing to the aero bars and aggressive body positioning.
(ii) Allow Adequate Time For Training
The amount of time you need to train would depend on the triathlon bike leg distance. Generally, the longer the triathlon cycling distance, the more time you need for training. If you intend on participating in the Ironman and Olympic distance races, training may require several months. However, a sprint distance covering 12 to 18 miles doesn’t require such an extensive training period.
As you train for the triathlon bike leg, you must also keep in mind the run leg thereafter. Proper bike training will prepare you physically for the cycling leg, but also provide you with energy reserves for the run leg. An important factor to consider before training is your initial fitness level, which will give you an indication of the feasibility of whichever distance you intend to train for.
Beginners may comfortably handle one or two weekly cycling sessions in the build up to a race. More experienced athletes training for longer and more challenging races require more cycling sessions with longer durations per session.
(iii) Benefits Of Proper Triathlon Bike Training
Since triathlons involve three events, proper training for the cycling leg will not only improve your performance in it, but also increase your capacity in handling the subsequent leg. A well-planned training program will help reduce fatigue during and after the cycling leg. Most of all, such training improves your aerobic capacity, which gives you the energy to last though a long event.
Training within a group is essential in equipping you with useful pack riding techniques. Specific group training sessions also prepare you to maintain certain distances between yourself and other riders. This is particularly useful in races that prohibit athletes from drafting off others.
(iv) Variety In Training
An important aspect in all triathlon training tips is the inclusion of variety in your workouts. Having a variety of workout routines will prepare you adequately for the varied conditions encountered in different triathlon events. For instance, training on a hilly terrain similar to the expected conditions in the actual race will build your capacity to excel in such conditions.
Speed and sprint intervals are an excellent way to add variety to normal cycling practice. Through such interval training, you will also develop greater aerobic capacity. Many other varieties of workouts may be included in order to break the monotony of training.
(v) Safety Precautions
Due to the intensity of physical activity in all sports, triathlons included, an athlete must take extra safety precautions. Apart from the potential risks in high speed riding, triathlon cycling may also involve outdoor riding in rough terrain, as well as heavy traffic areas. Hence, you must always put on a helmet, proper cycling shoes, gloves and visible clothing. Moreover, carrying an identification card, a cell phone, spare money and a tire-changing kit is also recommended in case of emergencies.
Every athlete needs to be deeply familiar with the bike he/ she will use during the race. Always ensure that all components of the bike are in good working order to avoid accidents. Check that your brakes work properly and also try repeated clipping in and out on the pedals. Since most fueling during the race will occur in the cycling leg, practice carrying and using nutrition implements on the bike.
(vi) Special considerations For Novice Triathletes
Using indoor bike trainers or attending local indoor cycling classes are safer alternatives to riding outdoors for a novice triathlete. These alternatives are also useful even for an experienced athlete who has limited training time or is training alone.
Including short runs (bricks) following the bike sessions will also condition your legs to anticipate the running part of the race after the cycling leg. This can be easily done on a treadmill.
2. Triathlon Training Tips For The Run Event
The running leg in a triathlon event is always preceded by a transition period following the cycle leg. This transition phase is just as important as the running itself in giving an athlete an edge over the others.
(i) Practice For Smooth Transitions
A smooth change of gear and equipment during the transitions between swimming and cycling, as well as cycling and running can easily give you an edge over other triathletes. The seconds used up in taking off your wetsuit or getting on and off your bikes are sure to add up to the total time used up in completing a race. Having the right triathlon gear is essential – make sure you have a suitable triathlon suit to help ensure you don’t lose vital seconds in between legs of the race.
In case, you have an excellent running leg, you may still lose the race if you spent excessive time during the transition period. Therefore, transition training sessions are sure to enhance your running workouts.
(ii) Train Specifically For Your Race
Always focus your training to the particular distance that you’ll run during a triathlon race leg. This will prepare your body for the specific conditions you are likely to face during the event. For example, a short-course race would require more speed training as compared to an Olympic distance race that places more emphasis on endurance.
Race specific training should also be applied in training for the swimming and cycling legs. Moreover, your training conditions should also try to mimic the expected conditions during a race. If racing will occur in hot weather, schedule your training sessions to midday times.
(iii) Include Brick Training Sessions
Brick training sessions involve a combination of two events, particularly the cycling and running phases. During such training, your body develops the capacity to change from one activity to the next. Such training is especially useful for first-time triathletes who have difficulty running properly after coming from the cycling portion of the race. Brick training sessions are more beneficial when included in the final training block before a race.
(iv) Race Week Training
Every triathlete must carefully handle training sessions during the week leading up to a race. This is not the time to improve fitness. Trying to do so will only reduce your physical capacity during the race. You should instead reduce your training by approximately 30 percent in preparation for the race.