Monthly Triathlon Training Advice
Introducing nutritional tricks that will boost your energy and speed your recovery...
1. Breakfast before morning swims:
Sleeping overnight depletes the liver's store of glycogen. Liver glycogen is the major store of carbohydrate to regulate blood sugar. When this is depleted your blood sugar starts to drop and fatigue sets in. This won't help concentration, and if you are trying to improve your technique you will struggle. Look for foods high in carbohydrate, low in protein and low in fat. Don’t compromise your sleep so choose foods you can eat on the go such as jam sandwiches, flapjacks or sports bars.
2. Protein after runs:
Running is one of the most stressful forms of exercise you can undertake. It produces signals which tell your body to start breaking itself down and causes large amounts of muscle damage. Running is quite often the discipline of triathlon training which leads to injury. A simple nutritional strategy to counteract the negative signals produced by running is to have a good source of protein straight after the training session. If you are just going out for a plod have a yogurt when you get in, if it is a longer run or quality session have a milkshake or carbohydrate protein recovery drink
3. Fish Oils:
When we lived in caves and hunted for our food we ate the healthy fats omega 3 and omega 6 in a ratio of approximately 2:1. These days it is around 1:20, the consequences of which are a form of inflammation which the body finds difficult to cope with. For a triathlete in hard training this will mean slow recovery and increased fatigue. Simply taking a fish oil supplement or making sure you get a good source of oily fish 3-4 times per week can get our bodies back to how they should be.
4. Swill a carbohydrate gel during run intervals:
There are carbohydrate sensors in the mouth which stimulate the brain into working harder. Using a carbohydrate mouth rinse can increase 40 km cycling time trial time by over a minute. However, possibly the biggest benefit can come while you are training. Consuming sports drinks and gels during hard training sessions, particularly run sessions that can be uncomfortable. Just swilling the gel around your mouth will help you maintain the training intensity.
5. Start drinking early on the bike:
The timing of fluid and fuel intake on the bike leg of an Olympic distance race can affect run performance. A recent study compared drinking at 8, 16, 24 and 32 km into the bike with drinking at 10, 20, 30 and 40 km. When subjects started drinking early they ran the 10 km 3% faster than when they started drinking later in the bike.
The essential advice you'll need to make your mark at your next road race...
1. Know your strengths
Do the tests that show you when to attack and when to sit in the pack
All cyclists have strengths and weaknesses, and knowing them will help you attack or conserve energy at the right times. They include endurance, solo speed, strength, sprinting, tactics, hill climbing or any combination of these attributes. This knowledge comes from experience and through “power profile” testing. To do this you need a power meter or any indoor trainer that measures power. Do a maximal 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute and 20 minute test. Then compare your average power across a population of cyclists by using the tables in the book “Training and Racing With A Power Meter” (VeloPress) or by searching for them on the internet (http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/power-profiling). This will tell you where your strengths lie relative to other riders. Play to your strengths on race day, and you'll have more chance of staying away from the pack.
2. Train to win
Prepare your body specifically for the key moments during a race
Road races are won and lost in key moments, and you need to prepare your body for them. If you’re aiming to contest sprint finishes you need to train like a sprinter, by including sprints and weight training in your regime. If you’re aiming to make a lone breakaway you need to include long steady miles and regular cycle time trials into your training. To make your mark in the hills you need all of the above, as well as low body fat and the ability to descend fast. Whichever method of attack you choose, you need to train specifically for it.
3. Don’t be a sheep
Have the courage to make your mark, rather than hiding behind the masses
In one-day road racing it’s better to attempt to win and fail, than it is to sit in the bunch from beginning to end and finish mid-pack. The vast majority of riders won’t aim any higher than this. So make it your target to attempt at least three winning moves during a race. They might not succeed, but you won’t know unless you try. Either way, it’ll be exciting, you’ll get a good workout and you’ll gain experience that might help you win next time. It is a race after all, and you’re not there to make up the numbers.
The five injury principles that’ll get you back to full training in no time...
Imagine the scenario; you’re weeks away from your big race, and you’ve been training hard for months on end. Everything’s going well, except for a niggling injury that seems to be getting worse and worse. Eventually it gets so bad that you can’t even run, and you’re forced to admit defeat. Heartbroken and disenchanted, you forfeit that all important race entry and begin the long road back to recovery. The big race will have to wait another year.
Former marathon World Champion Rob de Castella summed it up well when he said: “It’s easy to look after yourself when you’re healthy and training well; what makes a true champion is how you look after yourself when you’re injured.” But being injured needn’t be so tough. By applying a few simple principles, you can reduce the impact and the recovery time of all but the worst injuries.
1. Look on the bright side
One of the best things about being a triathlete is that injuries don’t force you into becoming a couch potato. You may not be able to run as often as you’d like but at least cycling and swimming are still on the menu.
Injured triathletes often make swim and cycle improvements that stay with them for years. Make sure you’re one of them. It’ll also keep you fit, so that you won’t lose much of your running speed during your lay off. Just be careful with high intensity cycling during the acute stages of an injury, as it can hinder your recovery in some cases.
2. Doing Nothing Doesn’t Work
Most people’s response to an injury is to stop running completely and hope the problem goes away on its own. This occasionally works, but the chances are as soon as you start running again your symptoms will return. Unless you tackle the cause of the problem you’ll just be delaying the inevitable. The point is you can’t expect to solve a problem by doing nothing, so actively seek solutions as soon as you can. It could save you months of inactivity.
3. Pain isn’t always a disaster
As triathletes we have an interesting mindset; when we’re fit we consider aches and pains as being part and parcel of training. But as soon as we’re injured we think the slightest niggle is a total disaster. So when you’re returning to running after injury you need to keep a sense of balance. Don’t expect to be totally symptom free during your comeback. The important thing is to note whether you’re symptoms are getting gradually worse or gradually better. Try grading your symptoms out of 10 after each run so you can fine-tune your training accordingly. And don’t be too frightened by the odd ache or pain; injury sites often become sensitized over time, so that the injury feels worse than it actually is.
4. Don’t take shortcuts
We all want to cure our injuries instantly, so we seek quick fixes. Things like massage, ice therapy, compression socks and new running shoes all help, but need to be accompanied by your own hard work. If your symptoms aren’t gone in a week you should see a sports injury specialist who can diagnose you and give you a set of rehabilitation exercises. Have faith in your rehab programme, and stick it like glue. Not just for a week, but consistently, beyond the point at which your symptoms subside. The responsibility is on you; so don’t expect someone to wave a magic wand.
5. Comeback gradually
When you start training after an injury you should do it gradually so that your body has time to adapt. At this point you’re neither injured nor cured - you’re somewhere between the two, and doing too much can set you back.
Once the worst of your symptoms have subsided you should try a short and slow two kilometre run. If you get through it unscathed try running 2.5km two days later. Keep up this regime of running every second day, adding half a kilometer each time until you can do 10km without much trouble. You should adjust this programme if you symptoms flare up, so that you progress more slowly. At the same time, make sure you’re doing everything else you can to fix your injury, including rehab exercises, massage and core stability work.
The Serious Training Blog
Train Smart. Race Fast.
Phil Mosley is a triathlon coach and writer.