Training is vital to competing in triathlons. Proper training will prepare your body for the stress it will endure during a race. Understanding the essentials will allow you to design your own training program and be able to analyze your workouts in order to customize them as you progress.
As a triathlete, the name of the game is endurance. Endurance is often associated with pain, and for good reason. Endurance involves performing intense work over long periods of time. Even the short races will take an elite triathlete around an hour to complete. Every athlete’s body has a threshold where it can no longer perform work in an efficient manner. Once this threshold is crossed, the body fails to produce energy efficiently, allowing fatigue to set in, and performance will decrease. A well trained triathlete needs to be familiar with his or her body’s threshold and know how to perform at a level just beneath it. Racing below your body’s threshold will allow you to maintain a high rate of speed while conserving energy and preventing fatigue from setting in.
Training in Phases
To improve fitness and endurance, training should include gradual increases in volume and intensity. By increasing volume and intensity you are teaching your body how to cope with excess load. Eventually, your body will learn how to maintain itself during these high intensity workouts and start to become more efficient. Increases in efficiency will allow you to push your body even more the next time. Be sure to keep the increases at a gradual pace. Substantial increases in training volume can have adverse affects and negatively impact your endurance as well as raise the potential for injury.
The body can’t handle the rigors of intense training for long stretches of time. For this reason, your training should be done in phases. The general phases of training are base, build, and peak. The base phase is the first phase of the training cycle. Its purpose is to develop fitness and build a solid foundation for the next phases. The build phase follows the base phase. The build phase is the period where you ratchet up the volume and intensity of your training and truly see what your body can handle. Building phase leads up to the peak phase. Upon enter the peak phase, you should be in race shape and be able to complete the distances of your planned races. The peak phase is about maintaining this level of fitness while keeping your body fully energized for race day.
Once your training cycle has gone through the three basic phases, you should follow it up with a period of rest and recovery. Rest and recovery involves scaling your training and giving your body time to repair itself. It’s a good time to take a mental and physical break from the stress of heavy training. Workouts during this time should be less intense and kept fun. If you are interested in getting involved in other recreational sports this would be a good time to do so.