Updated: Aug 12
Read time: 4min.
By Coach Yan Busset
Are you new to the world of triathlon and have started training for your first race? Do you feel overwhelmed and unsure about what steps to take next? Many quit early their triathlon journey due to a lack of guidance, stopping them from reaching their goals.
Imagine the disappointment of starting a triathlon only to fall short of the finish line without the right insights and tips. But fear no more!
In this article, I’ve got your back with actionable tips that will get you to the finish line, so you can brag for the rest of your life!
Step 1: Progressivity & Pacing
The main reason beginners struggle to keep up with training is because they start too fast, too far, too soon. They mean well but believe that training hard every day will improve their fitness. It won’t be sustainable, and they will hit a plateau or burn out if they don’t learn to slow down. Understanding the benefits of slower yet effective low intensity/ endurance training is key (more on the zones here). Volume-wise, the fundamental endurance intensity (below or at to Z2) should take about 80% of your training time. Why? Because training at a lower intensity will reduce injury and overtraining risks and make you more efficient cardiovascularly and metabolically.
How do you define it and make sure you train at the right intensity? It’s simple: the ceiling of Zone 2 is the aerobic threshold (Or Ventilatory Threshold 1). It’s the easiest intensity to self-assess. If you can talk in long sentences, you are in Z2. Or if you can train and breathe through your nose with ease, you're still good to go. But as soon as you need to pause and take your breath, cutting sentences short, slow down. The frequency and length of your sessions will depend on your athletic background and your goals. Progressivity is key. Prefer shorter but regular sessions rather than exhausting weekend hero ones. Gradually increase your weekly volume. You can start with a 7-10% increase, but there are no rules that fit all, and you need to listen to your body first.
Step 2: Recovery
Raising volume and training frequency is one element that will allow you to gain fitness, but it’s only one side of the coin. There are no physical progresses without proper post-workout recovery. Training sessions stress your body, and recovery will allow it to adapt and rebuild itself stronger. The most powerful recovery tool is sleep, if it was invented today, sleep would be the most expensive piece of gear you could get to boost performance!
During your sleep, you rebuild muscle, lose fat, regenerate cells, and not to mention the mental rest that allows you to regain your cognitive abilities. Use these four principles to maximize recovery and reassess your training volume according:
-Spread sessions across the week, don’t overstack on weekends. Keep at least two days between harder sessions.
-Make sleeping quality a priority.
-Alternate disciplines order to rest specific muscle groups.
-Track your recovery values: resting heart rate, weight, and weekly average sleeping hours.
Step 3: Nutrition and Fuelling
Taking the journey toward your first triathlon is a great excuse to hack your lifestyle, and it starts with food. On the nutrition aspect, the rule of thumb is to eat "real food," aka non-processed food. You want nutrient-dense food. The common mistake is not getting enough calories, which will lead to fatigue and limit your ability to sustain training over the weeks.
When it comes to training, you need to fuel your sessions to get the best out of them. Fuelling your before and after your workouts (and during for sessions longer than one hour) will help you recover faster and perform better.
Step 4: Get a Plan
To maintain consistency and make progress, you need to build a battle plan. If you train randomly, you can expect random results. Start by planning the big picture: where are you right now, what are your main goals, and how long do you have to achieve them? Then, plan for the following week. Putting your plan on paper increases the likelihood of actually doing the training. To build your training plan, you can seek the help of a professional coach. This way, you will save time and stay focused on what matters most: execution. Additionally, knowing that someone will supervise your sessions will provide a motivational boost!
Step 5: Stay Consistent
Consistency is the key to achieving long-term results in triathlon training. There are no secrets or magic shortcuts. Success comes with time and dedication. The first four rules mentioned above will help you achieve consistency. Remember that no single workout will take you to the finish line; it's the accumulation of daily grinding that will get you there. Motivation is good for getting started, but it's discipline that will enable you to keep going. A great way to maintain consistency is through accountability. A professional coach will help you stay on track. Additionally, having a training buddy is one of the best tools you can have. Join a training group or a club to make the training more enjoyable and make ticking the consistency box even easier.
-Don't train too hard too often; prioritise Z2 training and gradually increase volume.
-Recovery is as important as training for progress. Monitor your recovery values.
-Ensure you eat enough quality food and fuel before, during, and after workouts.
-Build a training plan, either alone or with the help of a coach.
-Consistency is key; a coach and training buddies will help you stay on track.
Thank you for reading and see you next week!
Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways I can help you:
1. If you are looking for support for your triathlon journey, I recommend you book a 30min 1on1 video consultation with me here.
2. If you are looking for an online coaching service check here.
3. if you are in the Helsinki area and looking for the best training group check here
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