In the second of a series of blog articles with 50 of the best triathlon training hacks we are dedicating this weeks blog to an article with a number of tips & hacks 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 move onto the cycling leg for our triathlon training hacks in true Triathlon fashion. Check out Part One of our triathlon training hacks where we cover swim training tips here.
Use a turbo trainer in your training and be proud! There is often a stigma about cycling outdoors versus the merits of training indoors but when it comes to your training you should embrace the turbo trainer and the purity of training that this delivers. Cycling outdoors on the road can be tough and needs planning, you need to consider the conditions and prepare accordingly. Cycling on the road it is hard to set out a specific training outcome with hills where you find them and junctions the same. Cycling on a turbo trainer need not be an exclusive club with premium prices as you don’t need to go as far as a smart trainer if you can train with some form of heart rate monitor. The turbo lets you plan your training session down to the minute and get back from it exactly what you need. Use it.
Train in the kit you plan to race in. Don’t leave it to race day to find that your super lightweight triathlon bike shoes finding that they pinch around the bridge of your feet and leave you in pain throughout the run leg. Likewise with your clothes. I’ve saved a trisuit just for races only to find the shoulders were too tight and pulled on my neck leaving me like Quasimodo come the finish line.
Spin, spin, sugar. Embrace a lunchtime spin class. Its not just for girls who don’t break a sweat. Finding time to train is tough for all us real world athletes holding down jobs and juggling family life so squeezing in any extra training hours you can works. Use your lunch hour to join a 45 min spin class and put some extra miles in your legs. They all help come race day and every ride can’t be an epic 50 miler on your TT bike in perfect conditions. Don’t be afraid of giving it a go and if anyone asks say you read in our triathlon training tips blog!
Push beyond the mileage for your race. If you are racing a Sprint go beyond the 20km and get comfortable racing at 30km distances. Same applies throughout race distances although when you get to full Ironman distance putting in training sessions above the 100 mile marker is tough and in reality it then becomes more about time in the saddle rather than distance with as many 5 hour plus sessions in the saddle as possible.
Get a cadence sensor. Again unfortunately another tech purchase putting more pressure on your pocket money but if you have most modern training watches chances are getting a cadence sensor as an addition is likely roughly a £20 splurge. Using a cadence sensor will help you monitor your output which is far cheaper that getting a watt meter (costs multiply by many times for one of these). Use the cadence sensor to try and maintain a high cadence pace (above 70) ideally pushing around 90. It will help you maintain the right gearing and preserve energy throughout your ride.
Hunt the hills. Unless you are insane hills will be your nemesis but hiding from them is doing you no favours come race day. High intensity workouts where you don’t smash your fastest average mph is no bad thing if you have killed your total ascent distance. Dull as it may sound loops around the same epic hill near your home could be the best bit of your training.
Join a club to get onto the chain gang on a Sunday morning that will help you adjust to riding in a group. While familiarising yourself with drafting is useful its not likely to help in a race but what club rides will do is give you new routes to try and likely push you beyond your usual limits where you would ride alone. Final benefit to group rides are safety in numbers where you are less likely to fall foul of a wayward motorist when there are 20 of you in a group. Hard to miss that much lycra!
Train all year round and use a mountain bike through the winter. Only getting in the saddle in warmer climes means you put a lot of pressure on your base fitness window needing to find a lot of time for training in a short period. Training all year round gets your legs familiar with cycling and maintain your fitness levels without having to rebuild each year from such a low starting point.
Technical riding. Can you corner with confidence? Do other cyclists always pass you on the downhill stretches? Being quicker on the bike stage isn’t just about being the fittest. Practice tough corners. Focus on your weight distribution as you corner or as you descend and have confidence in the connection your bike has with the road.
Consider how you will refuel in terms of hydration and energy if you are doing a distance event. Use the same bottle you would for your race and consider how you will take on the fuel. Don’t under estimate this for a number of reasons. Firstly you don’t know how your body will react to fluids and solids when under duress and can leave you feeling sick so you need to ensure this doesn’t happen come race day. Further reason why so important when on your bike is you are most vulnerable and unstable when cycling one handed hence taking on fluid and fuel with one hand is important to practice and be safe in the saddle.
Cycle using intervals. To balance out any of your long rides, try adding in some faster-paced riding in the same style you would with running. Sessions can be infinitely varied, but basically you are looking to ride faster for a short period, for two minutes, followed by a recovery period and then a couple of repeats of the faster pace. Key to this is make sure when you are in the high intensity zone you go all in and hold nothing in reserve. Always include a good warm-up and cool-down before and after your session.
Build upper body strength and flexibility…yes for you bike. No massive leg presses here. Cycling in particular on a TT bike puts huge pressure through your shoulders and neck especially if you are a nervous rider so having strength from weight training in your upper body will help you avoid injury and help build your distances. Time either on the drops on a road bike or on the aero bars on a TT is vital so the more time you can maintain this position the more aerodynamic you are and the more speed you will carry. So get going with them press-ups and build up the guns.
Get out there and feel the rain on your lycra (we nearly said helmet but the potential double entendres were too painfully evident). You can’t guarantee come race day that the sun will be shining so rather than experience cycling in the rain for the first time when you are hitting Bolton in Ironman UK get out there in the rain when you are training and get comfortable riding in bad weather. It sucks, we know but train hard and race easy.
That’s the end of part two. Look out for the next part in our series of 50 triathlon training hacks!