– What should I be doing now to be ready for my May or June race?
The triathlon season creeps up on us quickly, it is right around the corner! If periodization has been considered in your training, you have established a solid base to build upon and will be race ready! OR, you have not been training on the bike or in the pool much, but had fun enjoying the trails and weight room? Or, you are brand new to triathlon and have some level of fitness. Either way, there are specific focuses that you should have for optimal preparation.
Let’s start with scenario #1, you have worked on zone 2 aerobic base training, lifting heavier weights in exercises specific to the sport, and you have conquered limiters that held you back last year. Now you can build into the following:
- Hill work – Hills are fantastic no matter what the race venue holds in store. Hills help build strength and power. If possible, practice on hills that are similar to those in the race.
- Functional strength and flexibility for triathlon – continue to work on strength, but lighten up or take the weights out of the program, and add more stretching and muscle work (foam rolling, trigger point, massage).
- Specificity – Work on race specific training as you get closer to race day. This includes race paced efforts using power on the bike, heart rate or pace on the run, and perceived exertion on the swim. Plan your pacing for race day!
- Goal setting – As you find your pacing plan, set goals for race day. Have an A, B, and C plan to set up for success.
- Mental strategies – Visualization and mantras can be very effective to help an athlete push through the discomfort. Practice picturing a perfect race, how you will feel, and what the outcome will be. And find mantras to keep positive, strong thoughts flowing, “I am strong and ready”, “I have put in the training, I can do this”, or whatever is motivating and realistic.
- Open water skills – Find open water practices with safety and coaching in place. Sighting, drafting, and back and breast stroke can be practiced in the pool before heading to the lake.
And for those athletes in scenario #2, the focus will be building strength and speed while working on aerobic base. This would be the list of objectives for you:
- Base training – Spend time in easier efforts, conversational pace, or zone 2. This is important to build aerobic base, possibly prevent injury, and allow for fitness improvements.
- Functional strength, core work, and flexibility – If an athlete does not practice these in training, a triathlon coach or personal trainer who specializes in endurance athletes should be hired. These are important for injury prevention and performance.
- Skill work in the pool and on the bike – For those who are not comfortable in the pool and not quite ready for open water, consider a swim class with a coach who can help with stroke analysis and form. A triathlon coach or experienced cyclist can help with bike skills and form. A triathlete should be comfortable riding on the street with traffic, turning to look behind, grabbing a water bottle, climbing, and descending.
- Open water – As stated above, do not go out alone. Find an open water practice to gain comfort before race day.
If you are a total newbie, add these to your list:
- Fix-a-flat class
- Swim lessons
- Consultation with a coach
- USAT Rules -https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Triathlon/About/Multisport/Competitive-Rules