Okay, so how did I do it? How did I manage to put together the race of my life? Piece of cake!
A key ingredient to race performance is how much you train, and how much you train in each segment. Most people don’t need to worry about training too much but some do. You know the A++ personality.
Primarily two things dictate your training volume: the distance you’re going to race and your age.
The longer the race, the more you’re going to have to train. The younger you are, the more you’re going to have to train. In my mind those are just the facts.
Now my good friend Russ Jones is about to embark on a career in triathlon training and his philosophy is “less is more.” I totally agree with this but race distance and age have a lot to do with it. So I guess if I could modify his philosophy a bit I’d say “Train as little as you have to, to win.” Not as catchy!
Concentrate On Your Weaknesses
I’m a strong believer in training harder on your weaknesses, but relative to your race distances. This generally isn’t appealing because you’re typically strongest at the thing you like to train at the best. For most triathletes that means they lack in their swimming and excel either in cycling or running.
But remember, I said relative to your race distances. In general, the swim comprises 20% of the overall time in sprint and Olympic distance races but only 10% in 70.3 and full Ironman races. So, if you’re not a swimmer, work on it, but not to the detriment of your cycling and running.
Concentrate on your weaknesses. For me that has always been my cycling. Here’s what I did this season: dropped one of my swim workouts (my strength) and picked up another cycling workout.
I now do three CompuTrainer workouts and one long ride each week. This really helps me because the bike portion of the race, no matter what the distance, is generally 50% of your overall time. That means I had a lot of room for improvement.
Why does everyone think that it’s easier for the top athletes to crawl out of bed at 4:30 in the morning than for everyone else? It’s not! It’s a pain in the ass for all of us.
My typical week has me training seven days a week with a total of 11 distinct workouts (two-a-days on Monday – Thursday).
Don’t get lazy and blow your workouts off. Even if you can’t squeeze your full workout in, do something.
By far I think this is the thing that allowed me to still have legs after pushing so hard on the bike. Yes, I’ve been training really hard on the bike but the weight training has made a huge difference.
We harp on this all the time (especially Jarrett) but I believe it’s true. Naturally, if I have to miss a workout during the week it’s going to be strength session but I haven’t missed many.
I never got really competitive in my age group until a few years ago. My athletics were always about trying to stay in shape and hanging out with people that inspire me.
Within the last few years I’ve worked a lot harder at my racing, which has moved me up in the ranks. As a result, when I race I’m more confident.
It also helps that prior to the California 70.3 I had won my age group in the last three races. Granted, they were all small races but it does boost your confidence.
I hate to admit this, but it does get better with age. There were 62 finishers in my age group (M55-59). There were 338 in the M40-44.
Hang around this sport long enough and you’ll eventually qualify for Kona.
Nutrition is critically important to the top triathlete. Oh hell, who am I kidding? I eat like crap. I hate to admit it but I went into this race seven pounds heavier than my ideal race weight and I eat junk food and ice cream on a regular basis.
Does that mean nutrition is overrated? Probably not, but I just don’t pay that much attention to it.
Now, since Ironman Arizona is my “A” race this year I will drop the weight and start eating better. While I’m not sure how much it matters I figure it’s got to be better for me and it’s cheap insurance.
Speaking of cheap insurance, there are a lot of things you can do to help your race, especially your “A” races. Here are a few:
Get new goggles and use defogger. If you can’t see where you’re going on the swim you’ll probably cover a much longer distance.
Have your bike checked. Little things like new tires a new chain or new brakes can make or break a race.
Run in good shoes. One injury and you could be out of commission for an entire season.
See the doc. Dr. Sam Sunshine is my doctor. He’s a family and sports doctor in Foothill Ranch. He’s also a really good triathlete. Sam put me back on track with my Achilles problem and got my body chemistry back in balance.
Check out EFX Performance (www.efxusa.com). Now I’m really not a believer in this kind of stuff but I won the Desert Triathlon and came in 2nd at California with mine on. Does it work? Don’t know, but it’s cheap insurance.
That’s all I can think of at this time. There’s no magic here just hard work, common sense and a little voodoo.