Category: racing

Conquer the New York City Triathlon – New and updated for 2013!

The Aquaphor New York City Triathlon is a fun event, with tons of people flying in to tackle a great race and enjoy a weekend in the Big Apple. With a run through Manhattan and Central Park, it is rightly a popular race, but it is also a difficult course.

I have raced the NYC Triathlon a few times, and coach Team in Training and Tri Latino teams for this race, practicing the route regularly throughout the year. Here are my top tips to help deal with some of the tougher elements of the course. Give them a read and profit from some insider knowledge!

Tips for the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon

Let me know if you have your own tips to add, or any specific questions.

Read the athlete guidecourse description, etc. on the official New York City Triathlon website well in advance! Do it before you do anything else. If you have supporters coming, the Spectator Guide is full of useful info too – make them read that rather than asking YOU stupid questions and distracting you from vital race day prep!

Mandatory race briefings: These are a compulsory element and there for your benefit and safety. Try and attend on Friday (12-7pm) before the hordes descend on the hotel over the weekend. It’ll be a much easier task and you can enjoy the expo. Show up on time to your briefing – they don’t admit latecomers and you don’t want to be hanging around aimlessly. There’s a city to explore and much pre-race relaxing to be done.

Racking your bike: You have to leave your bike in transition on Saturday afternoon (~2-9pm). Cover your bike with plastic bags in case of rain, and deflate your tires a little bit to avoid them going POP! in the sun. I’ve jumped at many an exploding tire in the background while setting up!

You don’t want to turn up to your bike on Sunday morning only to find you have to fix a flat! Bring a pump to re-inflate them on Sunday morning. Even if you don’t need it, you will make a lot of BFF’s if you have a pump to share!

There is plenty of security there, but don’t leave your other gear there, just the bike. You don’t want it getting moved, scattered, misplaced, rained on, etc. overnight. Bring it with you on Sunday morning.

Pay attention to the new security measures. Official clear plastic bags only, no Camelbaks (UPDATE: apparently they are now allowed again – but pay attention to announcements for any changes), etc. Read up and come prepared. Adjust your training this week accordingly.

Bring a torch and headlamp for pre-race set-up. It will be dark at 5am and while there is lighting, you will be glad of it when you are poking around in your bag looking for your lucky teddy bear.

Walking to the swim start: You walk from ~72nd St transition area to the swim start at ~99th St. That’s 27 blocks or over a mile. Leave enough time to set up transition, walk up, collect your chip, drop off some belongings, etc. Wear some comfortable shoes that you don’t mind forgetting about. Bring a mag (to read, not for your gun. No guns allowed in transition), do your stretching, visualize your race, relax on the grass. Bring some snacks, gels and a water bottle as you will be there a while. Talk to your teammates.

From kelseytraining.com (now defunct)

Relax! Don’t stress about the swim. The water is (officially/technically) clean. Read up on the swim start procedures. Watch the waves ahead of you to get an idea of how it works.

In the water you might bump into some flotsam but ignore it. It ain’t a 3-eyed critter, just some driftwood. Carry on.

NYC Triathlon swim start tips

Let the current do the work. Take advantage of the fastest, easiest swim you’ll do in a triathlon. When you jump in (don’t dive!), the current will whisk you down river. Don’t stress, it is benign and trying to help! Get on your belly and start stroking. Be glad of the current. If you don’t like the idea of jumping in with 30 other athletes, let them jump first, wait a second or two (but not too long) and then go for it, start your race!

Swim to the outside, away from the wall where the current is strongest and let it carry you home. Near the wall is where the water will be choppiest, and the current the weakest.

You don’t need to do a lot of sighting in the swim as you will have the wall to your left which will take you down to swim finish in a straight line. There are also signs marking the route at 500m, 1000m, etc. Now is the time to practice breathing to your left in order to track your progress and ensure you are swimming parallel to shore, and in a straight line.

At the swim finish let the lifeguards pull you up. Swim right into the dock and take your time standing up. The floor is muddy (and gross) and you don’t want to get dizzy as you stand up.

Grab a quick shower on the way to transition to clear the Hudson muck, and then make your way casually to transition. It’s another 5-7 blocks back to your transition area. Read the course guide, to prep for the route in and out of transitions.

Transition: There are two different transition areas (red & yellow) and specific routes in and out for bike and run. Basically, run in and out of one entrance/exit and bike in and out of the other entrance.

Bike start: After cruising out of T1 (watch out for wayward, dizzy swimmers running to T1) you hit “Hot Corner” which is a sharp, 90 degree turn into a steep uphill. Thus, make sure you rack your bike in the easiest gear so you can get up that hill. There are crowds right on that corner for the bike start and swim finish, so make sure you don’t fall over in front of them!

via CNN

Hydrate! It will be hot out there.

Bike course: The course is crowded, particularly on the bike, with scant regard for drafting rules, and a lot of dangerous riding. This is partly due to newbies but also to aggressive, overly competitive athletes. Be alert, call your passes, check before you pull out to pass, ride defensively. It might cost you a couple of minutes but you’ll minimize the risk of crashing out.

There are rolling hills on the course. Take note, often in the city, hills are underestimated.

At the end of the bike course you ride past transition down to 59th st before looping back to 72nd St and into transition for T2. Read the course map so you aren’t surprised by this. It is utterly demoralizing when you are looking forward to getting your butt off the bike, only to have to cycle an extra 20 blocks!

On the way back in for T2, remember what goes up, must come down! Ride slowly down that steep hill into transition. Some of the volunteers may be overzealous New Yorkers and will not be shy in stopping you and “helping” you off your bike.

The run is fantastic! The crowds along 72nd St are so supportive, loud and motivating. However, first you have to tackle a short, steep hill out of T2 onto the roads. Manage that part, especially given your legs will be jelly after the bike. Once you reach the crowds and the adrenaline starts pumping, don’t go crazy. Enjoy their cheering, but manage your pace. 72nd Street is uphill and over half a mile long. You don’t want to cramp up as soon as you get into the park!

Take advantage of the aid stations for water and nutrition, as NYC can be hot and humid in the summer, even at 8am or 9am.

There are some nice, rolling hills in Central Park to keep you on your toes. They gradually get tougher until you are at the northern-most part of the course near Harlem (video of Harlem Hill, opposite direction). After the downhill Harlem Hill section as you turn south, there is one last tough hill to conquer before the gradients ease off.

Once you conquer those hills and start heading south on the east side of the park it is relatively flat before you hit downhill Cat Hill and arrive at 72nd St where the crowds will again welcome you!

Just when you expect to turn left for the finish line, you will have to turn right and run around a little-who-put-that-there-and-why-the-heck-do-I-have-to-run-around-it fountain before looping back for the finish line. Read the course map and there’ll be no surprises on race day!

Look out for cheer sections like Team in Training and Tri Latino‘s support crews. Feed off their energy. They are cheering YOU on as well.

Once you have finished kicking ass, the finish area is crowded with friends, relatives, toursits and well-wishers. Grab your recovery nutrition and go find your supporters. It is best to make a plan in advance otherwise finding each other will be tough.

Good luck and have fun. Remember: Strong like bull.

Then hit the city to celebrate.

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Open Water Swimming and Sighting Tips for Triathletes

 

I came across this great article on sighting for triathletes and think it’s well worth a read. Very thorough and timely, given I am racing this week.

The main point I would add is that it is important to practice sighting throughout the season, so that it is second nature come race day. Practice it in the pool as well as when training in the open water.

Sighting in Triathlon Swimming via Toby Baum’s twitter (@tobybaum).

His video embedded here:

 

Worth a watch for some good tips and visuals. Practice them before your next race!

Tip of the Day: Close Your Eyes to Swim Straight as an Arrow

Blindfolded Typing Competition, via Foxtongue’sFlickr

Do you veer off course during the swim portion of your race? If so, you will be surprised at how much extra distance you will cover.

This may be due to sighting but also due to having imbalances in your stroke. As on land, you will likely have a stronger side, for example if you tend to breathe only to one side.

You likely won’t discover this while swimming in the pool, since you have the black line at the bottom of the pool and lane ropes to guide you. It is not easy to correct imbalances without any visual guidance.

A way to test for any such imbalances is to swim with your eyes closed. Yes, eyes wide shut!

Push off the wall and swim nice and steady. Easy! No peeking. If you reach the end of the pool without bashing into the lane rope you are golden: no imbalances! Most people however will end up swimming to one side.

Once discovering to which side you veer, you can work on your stroke to correct the imbalance. It is not unlike running where – sometimes due to a prior or current injury – you favor one leg to some extent.

Be careful if sharing the lane with other swimmers of course!

So, “close your eyes, give me your hand, darling” and swim along (and sing) along.

Did you discover any imbalances in your stroke? Please comment below to let us know.

WOW! Workout of the Week: Start fast and settle

Goal: Main set includes fast swimming at the start of each rep, to replicate the start of a race when you tend to start hard to get in position and the adrenaline takes over. Start fast and settle into a good pace with good technique. Control your stroke and your breathing. You could throw in some sighting practice for extra brownie points.

Warm up:
150 swim + 100 kick + 150 pull + 100 drill
4 x 25 build each 25

Main set:
6 x 150:
1-3 as 50 fast + 100 steady, aerobic pace (not warm down pace!)
4-6 as 100 fast + 50 steady, aerobic pace (not warm down pace!)

Cool down:
400 pull
300 50 drill + 25 swim
200 25 swim + 25 kick on side
100 Easy swim

Total: 2,600

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #31: Don’t forget to have fun along the way

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of holistic triathlon tips that will help you achieve your goals. The little things that give big results, the “20” part of the 80:20 rule.

Today is the final tip in the series, #31: Don’t forget to have fun along the way

As you storm through your daily practices, grit your teeth during those cold, long winter runs and push yourself to master that impossible drill remember to have fun along the way. Sure, we want to win and to achieve our goals, but remember why you are doing this in the first place.

Remember your goals and why you set out on this path. Remember the initial enthusiasm of your first few days in the sport. Be like a kid who has just discovered a new activity.

Enjoy your progress. Sure it’s tough, and some days we’d rather stay in bed, but enjoy the progress. Enjoy each second you get faster, how much stronger you feel or each pound you lose. We all have plenty of bad days, so make sure you enjoy the good ones when nobody can stop you.

Enjoy the bad days too. They are the ones that put ‘money in the bank’ for race day.

Some days we’ll finish last, bonk or lose half an hour fixing a stubborn flat. Who cares – we will learn what to improve or change for next time.

On race day smile, enjoy the race and thank the volunteers. Encourage your rivals as you run past them with ease. Everyone gets a kick out of a bit of encouragement. We all contribute to race day atmosphere and the camaraderie is one of the best elements of triathlon.

Support your team mates. Enjoy their progress as well as your own. We’re in it together.

Enjoy your improving fitness levels, your increasing strength, your toned muscles, your knowledge about obscure bicycle parts and your new-found energy levels.

Enjoy it all, especially the tough parts, and remember to smile throughout Chrissie Wellington! We should all take a leaf out of her book.

Smile like Chrissie Wellingotn

Train hard, have fun.

The “31 Easy Tips” Series:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24:
 
Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory
#29: Invest in Recovery
#30: Perform HOT by warming up

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #30: Perform HOT by warming up

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?

Today’s tip to enhance your performance is #30: Perform HOT by warming up

Warm up like the pros before your triathlon practice or ironman training

Many of the athletes I interact with take a warm-up for granted, if they do one at all. They loiter on poolside chatting before swim practice and stand still awaiting instructions before run training.

Look at your favorite pro sports team or athlete before they compete or train. Look at the focus and attention they put into warming up. There are many theories on how to warm-up but the benefits of warming up before intensive exercise are well-established:

  1. Injury prevention
  2. Warmed muscles can contract and relax at faster speeds
  3. Improved range of motion
  4. Increase the heart rate to exercise levels
  5. Improve blood flow and oxygen utilization of muscles
  6. Mentally prepare for the workout
  7. Faster recovery post-workout

It is worth investing time in a good warm-up. An extra five minutes of quality warm-up can help you perform far better in practice and lead to much improved racing times.

Of course, a warm-up does not have to take a long time – focus on quality and tailor it to the practice ahead, e.g. if you are doing some sprinting make sure you build into speed work during the warm-up.

Warming up can include high quality technique work in the form of drills, which over the long term will improve efficiency…all while you warm up for the day’s session!

Have I made my point about quality above all? 🙂

Many warm-up options exist:

  • Jogging: light jogging as a gentle warm-up
  • Technique drills: e.g. single leg cycling on a bike trainer, pull and kick in the pool
  • Dynamic stretching: As opposed to static stretching where you hold stretches these are movement-based, e.g. arm swings, lunges, leg kicks, squats
  • Higher-intensity work: build into faster work in order to get your body used to higher intensity, e.g. 25m sprints in the pool, gradually increase your reps from 90 to 100 rpm on the bike, fast feet and build to sprint while running

Sample elements of warm-ups:

  • Cycling: Light pedaling, gradually increasing rpm’s. Can include single pedal drills practicing good technique and posture (alternate left and right for 5 minutes total). Spin up cadence pyramids (increasing from 80 rpm-100/110 rpm and reduce back down).
  • Run: light jog for 5 mins, introducing dynamic stretching (butt kicks, lunges, hip activators, squats, “fast feet shuffle”) and then adding short runs of increasing speeds building from medium to fast to sprints over short distances.
  • Swim: Initial aerobic swims (e.g. 3×200 swim, pull, kick) then drills (eg 8 x 50) and into sprints (4 x 25 build each length to fast + 4×25 increasing speed with #1 fast and #4 fastest).

Tailor your warm-up to what makes you feel good. Ultimately a warm-up  is subjective and you should include those exercises that prepare you to perform well in training.

As the season progresses, refine the warm-up and keep in mind what you will do to warm up on race day. What will give you confidence to go out and dominate the race? It all adds up to stronger performances in training throughout the season and ultimately on race day – all for a little focus during a warm-up.

How do you warm up?

The “31 Easy Tips” Series:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24:
 
Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory
#29: Invest in Recovery

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #29: Invest in Recovery

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?

Today’s tip to enhance your performance is #29: Invest in Recovery

Recovery for triathletes and ironman is important

I have had a few requests from various parties recently about recovery – what are the whats and the hows and the whys of effective recovery?

There are  – of course, since when was triathlon ever simple?! – many facets to post-exercise recovery, and many are open to debate so please let me know what I’ve forgotten or under/over-stated.

What is not in question is that proper recovery will boost performance by preventing injury and allowing you to perform at higher level for longer.

So, what should you be doing to recover after working out?

  1. Post-exercise warm down: do this purely for safety reasons if nothing else, as it allows your heart rate to return to a normal, resting state, and avoid a drop in blood pressure could drop and dizziness.
  2. Stretching: helps relax the muscles, flush out toxins and ultimately helps with flexibility which in turn helps prevent injury.
  3. Hydrate: hopefully you will be well hydrated from drinking throughout your workout, but be sure to drink plenty of fluids afterwards to aid recovery. We often lose weight while working out – this tends to be lost water. Drinking after training helps replace lost fluids and prevent sore muscles.
  4. Eat, eat, eat! as soon after training as possible, preferably within 30-60 minutes. Recommended foods vary, but some balance of protein and carbohydrates is important. Chocolate milk is on most lists as it contains both protein (to promote muscle repair) and simple carbs (to replenish glycogen). I like a banana as well. Make sure you have a good balanced meal after training to fuel your recovery.
  5. Massage: treat yourself to a pro or spend 10 minutes with your foam roller. One is more pleasurable than the next, but both methods may help flush out lactic acid, reduce swelling and heal faster.
  6. Naps & sleep: Get plenty of sleep to allow your muscles to recover. Increased sleep has been linked to improved performance, as when we are quietly (wait, do you snore?!) dreaming, our body is at work repairing our muscles.
  7. Cold/Hot therapy: in the form of hot/cold showers, ice baths and ice packs help boost circulation and flush out toxins. The other day I left my spinning class in my shorts and t-shirt went out into freezing weather on the way to the car. While all my muscles froze in the wind, this is NOT a recommended approach!
  8. Rest days: give yourself regular days off where you do nothing at all except enjoy some rest. While many feel the urge to keep training, a day off will allow you to perform better over the long term.
  9. Active recovery: is exercising at low-intensities and can include the warm-down immediately after a tough main set, or going for an easy swim shortly after your week’s long run. Studies show that rather than resting, active recovery helps flush out lactic acid and has psychological benefits – who doesn’t enjoy a nice, easy session from time-to-time?

There is a lot you can do to help you recover quickly and more effectively. While adopting the tricks above may take some practice, they are relatively easy and quick. Build them into your training plan and your daily routine.

Tons of equipment is available to help e.g. eye masks for a nap, ice packs, compression socks, foam roller, protein shakes and more.

Don’t just work hard during practice. Your training extends beyond your timetable and into recovery hours. The pay-offs will be clear over the course of a long season.

What have I missed? Vote now and I will try to include in the last couple of posts of the series!

The “31 Easy Tips” Series:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24: Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training
#28: Visualize Victory

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #28: Visualize Victory

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?

Your commitment to training hard for miles and miles is but one tool to excel in sports (and other endeavors). The hard work is required, but your effectiveness will only be maximized by taking a holistic approach to triathlon. Nutrition, recovery and technique are a few examples that will add to your performance gains with a little effort.

Today’s tip to enhance your performance is #28: Visualize Victory

10 Success Secrets of Olympic Greats - Phelps visualizing pre-race

Visualization is a technique that has been used by elite athletes for years. It involves mentally rehearsing your race and picturing yourself achieving your goals.

Picture yourself conquering a weakness, of racing fast and performing strongly. Imagine yourself crossing the finish line arms raised aloft, having achieved your goals.

If you get nervous pre-race, anticipate yourself calm and relaxed, steady heart-rate, breathing comfortably while awaiting the gun.

It is not my favorite sport but I am always impressed with the focus of baseball pitchers. They appear to visualize each and every pitch just beforehand.

The more you do it, the more stretch goals become achievable. Picture yourself swimming smooth and long, efficiently powering through the bike leg and finishing fast and strong on the run. The joy of visualization is that you can do it anywhere – while on a long swim or run, in the office, or commuting to work on the train.

Like anything, practice it and you will improve. I have heard anecdotes of swimmers, with practice, being able to rehearse their race within tenths of a second of their goal time!

Picturing yourself outperforming and conquering major challenges will help with your confidence on race day, and will help as you churn in the wash of the swim or as you struggle up that final, steep hill.

I’m in my 30’s but still fantasize about winning Olympic gold and later becoming a professional football player. The more I picture myself covered in glory, the more certain I am that it will happen!

Mo Farah wins gold - visualize yourself sprinting to victory in triathlon races

The difference between many athletes is often self-belief. Visualization can help your believe in yourself and your ability to achieve ANY goal.

What have I missed? Vote now and I will try to include in the last few posts of the series!

“31 Easy Tips” thus far:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24:
 
Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!
#27: Race-day training

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #27: Race-day training

I am a firm believer in efficiency and effectiveness in training. I don’t have the time, energy or attention span to plough away for mile after mile racking up insane training volumes. Sign me up for those things that allow me to achieve more in less time and have fun while doing so!

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. How are you going to reach your goals?

Today is #27: Race-day training

Prepare for race day with race-specific training eg open water swimming for triathletes

The triathlon season is long and there are many miles to be covered on the road to race day. Along the way do not neglect your race-specific training. What are the things that will save you minutes on race day and help you outperform your expectations?

Adapt your training to the course you plan on conquering. Get plenty of open water training done and be sure to note if the swim is in a lake or sea which can offer very different conditions on race day. Is the bike/run course hilly? Make sure you are training on hills otherwise the effort on race day will surprise you.

Open water swimming is far different and more chaotic than pool swimming. Be sure to tackle the currents, waves, lack of visibility of open water swimming. Work on your sighting so you do not end up swimming extra distance!

Brick workouts should be incorporated into your training. Swim and then bike, bike and then run. Help your muscles adapt to the changeover.

Nutrition is another element you can practice. What will your pre-race breakfast be? What snacks and fluids will you take during the race (be it in transition or on the bike)? Experiment with various foods and brands. You will like the taste of some and your body will reject others – make sure you find which ones before you ruin your race! Find out when and what quantity you should consume in and around your race – that is equally important. Nutrition can make a big difference.

Get your nutrition right for triathlon race day

Equipment is another variable that can make a difference. While a $10,000 carbon bike will help your cycling time, not all of us can afford that investment. Plus you’re doing it to push yourself anyway, right?! With so much equipment there are lots of choices and a lot of margin for error. What socks are comfortable and do not give you blisters? Do you have a pair of goggles that fit well and are comfortable? Are they tinted in case of sunny conditions and do you have a spare pair in case one breaks? Do you have a comfortable cap for the run and tri shorts? What sunglasses will you wear? These are all smaller items that will not make you faster, but knowing them will determine your comfort level and minimize stress in race week and on the day itself.

Practice your transitions – knowing your routine and making it second nature will be the difference between a 45 second transition and a 3 minute one, which in turn could be the difference between hitting your goal time or missing it. Practice what works for you in terms of order of events, whether to eat or not, do you put on socks for the bike, do you dry off with a towel or air dry? etc, etc.

Learn to fix a flat – Murphy’s Law will dictate that you will NEVER get a flat in training but halfway through the bike leg, BOTH your tyres will pop! Be prepared. Don’t end up sitting by the side of the road waiting for bike support to arrive!

Preparing the smaller, seemingly less significant items will give you the mental confidence to race hard. Free your brain from stress and focus on racing hard and fast!

What tips would you add to the list?

“31 Easy Tips” thus far:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24:
 
Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!
#26: Sprint!

31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence #26: Sprint!

I am a firm believer in efficiency and effectiveness in training. I don’t have the time, energy or attention span to plough away for mile after mile racking up insane training volumes. I want to do what I can to get faster and stronger in the time that I have – and then proceed with my social life. Sign me up for those things that allow me to achieve more in less time.

“31 Easy Tips to Sporting Excellence” is a series of those tips that will kick your performance to the next level, without any inordinate expenditure of time or money. With one month down so far this year, what are you doing to improve your performance? How are you going to reach your goals?

Today is #26: Sprint!

The assumption for triathletes is that you have to do huge volumes at aerobic pace in order to be ready for a race. While being able to sustain a pace for long periods of time is important, and aerobic training provides the base for your season, sprint training plays an important role in triathlon.

Studies have shown that sprinting helps strengthen your muscles and increase the power and efficiency of each stride or stroke. This goes for all three of the disciplines.

For runners, one of the benefits of sprinting is muscle fiber recruitment. Increasing your fast twitch muscle fibers and enabling them for work will help with maintaining a hard pace when your slow twitch fibers fatigue.

On the bike as well as in the pool – sprinting develops the intensity and power of each allowing you to get more out of each stroke. Translate some of that power that to slower speeds and allow yourself to get more out of each stroke.

And if nothing else, sprinting offers variety to your workout. It’s great as part of a warm-up progression, after a long main set or the core of a shorter more intense workout. Recruit your teammates and do relays. The competition is fun and will encourage you to maximize your training speeds!

A sprint workout involves shorter distances at higher speeds with longer rest intervals. Total volumes in a sprint session will be lower due to the increased rest.

There are injury concerns with sprinting given the high intensity and a relative lack of experience. Do a longer warm-up and build into the sprints. Do not do sprint workouts back-to-back, allow yourself to recover.

Get sprinting and give yourself stronger muscles and an extra couple of gears.

What tips would you add to the list? What have I not covered yet?

“31 Easy Tips” thus far:
#1: Drink Water First Thing in the Morning
#2: 
Write Down Your Goals (Now!)
#3:
 Ask an Expert
#4: 
Start Stretching
#5: Track your progress towards your Goals
#6: Take a Cold Shower
#7: 
Incorporate Drills into your Workouts
#8: 
Superfoods for Superperformance
#9: Get Some Rest
#10: Cross train
#11: 
Reward Yourself
#12: Don’t Breathe in the Pool
#13: 
Take a Bath
#14: Do Squat!
#15: Get Yourself a Mentor
#16: 
Do Yoga
#17: Be on Time
#18: Leave Your Bucket of Troubles at the Door
#19: Stay Healthy!
#20: Do LESS Freestyle
#21: Grind it Out on the Foam Roller
#22: Engage Your Core
#23: Don’t Break the Bank!
#24:
 
Be Persistent and Patient (Like Skyscraper Builders)
#25: Kick!