In the third of a series of blog articles with 50 of the best tips we are dedicating this weeks blog to an article with a number of triathlon training tips to help you as we all enter the chunky phase of the training calendar in readiness for racing and putting down some PB’s. We will cover more tips from the cycling leg for our article this week. Check out Part One of our Triathlon Training Tips where we cover swim training tips here and check our Part Two of our Triathlon Training Tips here where we started the story on tips for your cycling training.
If you have access to a gym, maybe on a work trip with a well furnished hotel gym then hunt down the use of a Watt bike or equivalent piece of quality kit. A power meter would be the choice if money were no object but we can’t all afford to throw money at our hobby so getting a brief pop at a Watt bike type machine might just help. The reasoning being to help you assess the balance of your power between your legs. Most of us have a dominant leg and using something to measure this will help you surface this and as a result when out on your bike or pounding out the hours on a turbo trainer you can tune your efforts to equal this out and give you a more even spread of power between each leg.
Build up your endurance for distance races by spending time firmly on your base level of RPE (relative perceived effort). Base training involves plenty of hours of steady, moderate cycling to develop endurance needed for a triathlon. If you have a heart rate monitor this means keeping your heart rate between 60-70% and if you aren’t lucky enough to have one yet then base the RPE based on your breathing, you should be able to talk while cycling at this rate. Unfortunately base training means four or five days a week so your body learns to burn fat efficiently, this results in saving carbohydrate fuel for more intense exercise. If you can manage the time ideally you would be looking for at least two hours per session, but we recognise this is a huge investment in time so your target could be as straight forward as riding until you feel tired.
Introduce lactate threshold sessions into your cycling. Ok. What the hell is lactate threshold training? Can I order that at Caffe Nero along with my latte? Not exactly. Lactate threshold means the highest level of activity you can maintain for 60 minutes without an explosion of lactic acid in your legs. The higher that you can push this threshold the theory goes the faster that you will be able to go come race day. This is something to consider as you enter the final phase of your training ahead of a race. The ideal conditions to seek out really mean heading to the turbo trainer as this allows you to control the exact environment in a gear that allows the right level of effort at the right cadence (around 90rpm). Start out with reps of 5 mins threshold and then 5 mins recovery gradually over time increasing the threshold and reducing recovery.
Get comfortable on your bike and make sure it is set up right. Triathlon’s range in distance and anyone considering an ironman distance should seriously consider the fit of their bike. There is little point in spending thousands on your dream bike only to have it set up poorly robbing you of speed and of equal importance comfort. Coming off the bike and onto the run if you have been in an uncomfortable position on the bike you have damaged your run performance. Now we may not all be able to afford a Retul bike fit but that doesn’t stop us getting more comfortable on our bike. If you are a member of a cycling club then there are likely some experience riders who have good knowledge of how to get you into a good position this side of spending hundreds of pounds more.
The bike needs time and a lot of commitment of precious personal time that can be hard to fit into our busy lives. To help juggle all things create a plan for how you will fit your cycling sessions into your week. It doesn’t need be overly scientific or complex but outline duration and objective of each session within a week so you have a framework and as a result more likely to maintain your plan rather than relying on your daily motivation to be sufficient.
If you can get to know the course you will be racing on. Travel to the area and get a copy of the race circuit. There are 2 key reasons why this can be hugely beneficial, firstly, that it can be crucial to a safe ride. Knowing a road means you can anticipate difficult corners better and poor quality road surfaces all of which can put you at risk while racing where you are riding in a group and striving for more aerodynamic form. Second reason for this being worthwhile is from a speed perspective where you can get a feel for how quick you can tackle a descent or how quick you can approach a corner where you do not have full visibility.
Look after your body. Time for a warm down to let your muscles ease off from a high intensity ride will accelerate the recovery time and ability to train. We all struggle with time for this but do it where you can. What you can also do that may be easier to slot into the schedule is find a local sport physio who can give you a deep tissue massage and ease off any muscles that have tightened up and at risk of damage impacting your ability to train.
Build in “brick” sessions. For those long in the tooth of triathlon the concept of brick sessions will be familiar. The term “brick” refers to building together different disciplines. The two main examples being swim-into-run and then cycle-into-running. The purpose of this type of training is that it prepares your body for the experience of shifting between disciplines which gives you increased confidence on race day where you can anticipate how your body will feel as you transition. It is common for the body to feel jaded as you start the bike or start the run with legs like jelly but 5-10 mins into the phase your body will adjust and feel more at ease. Make time for this and train for success with race replicating training sessions.
We all know we should do it and all avoid it. Transition times count too. Recently one of our brand ambassadors completed in his first half iron distance race and posted times that were frankly out of this world. All except his transition times which for T1 were approaching the ten minute marker. The ability to change from your wetsuit to your bike kit and equally from your bike kit to run is important. So, you may look daft in your garden rushing to strip off your wetsuit but like all things practice makes perfect and will result in incremental gains all of which may make the difference between a PB or not.
That’s the end of part three. Look out for the final part in our series of 50 triathlon training tips!