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By: Rob and Stephanie Levy

51 Ways To Increase Triathlon Performance

In previous articles such as How To Swim Faster: 7 Tips, How To Bike Faster: A Simplistic Approach, and 3 Tips to Run Faster with Better Form we’ve discussed a few important ways you can increase your speed. But the truth is there is also more ways to get faster. In fact, even though the following list has 51 tips for increasing the performance this list is ever growing. Please feel free to add to it in the comments section below.


1. Use resistance bands to develop your stroke. If done correctly, an underwater pull requires a lot of strength. In addition to swimming regularly you can build this strength out of the water with resistance bands.

2.Reduce boredom with an underwater mp3 player. Staring at a black line for hours a week can indeed be a very boring task. Spice it up with music.

3. Balance your stroke by practicing bi lateral breathing. Try breathing every 3, 5, or even 7 strokes every once in awhile

4. Maintain good head & body position. Look just slightly forward, but don’t strain your neck and definitely don’t bury your head and tuck your chin.

5. Use a high elbow above and below the water. Your elbow should be higher than your hand and your wrist as you pull your body over hand and through the water.

6. Clean up your swim kick. If you don’t want to be putting on the brakes every time you kick, your knees should not excessively bend while you kick.

7. Join a masters swim group. Training with others not only forces you to swim faster but you get to watch experienced which helps you visualize what swimming looks like.

8. Swim slow and fast! Swim slow to work on technique, swim fast (25, 50, 75, and 100 repeats) to build speed.


9.  Take advantage of free speed. Stay aero has much as you can in training and racing. Additionally don’t slack off when going down hills.

10. Practice cycling drills often. The perfect time to this is when doing an indoor cycling workout.

11. Always wear a helmet. Not only for your own personal safety, but get caught without a helmet at a sanction triathlon and you will be automatically disqualified.

12. Get a power meter if you can. Power meters are dropping in price everyday, if you can afford one, get one and learn how to train with it.

13. Biking on trainer has multiple benefits over outdoor biking. Read more HERE.

14. Consider going to a spin class. Spin classes are a great way to mixed up your training. Additionally the big flywheel on most spin bikes force you to keep pedaling.

15. Keep up on routine bike maintenance. Many people forget that bike chains need to replaced around every 3000 miles (depending). Additionally dirty components and suck away power.

16. Push yourself by ridding in a group. Just like swimming with a master swim group, biking with a group forces you to push harder than you normally would training solo.

17. Push yourself hard during key workouts. Don’t get stuck in your comfort zone, push yourself when your workout calls for it.

18. Have fun with cross-training. The beauty of biking is the diversity of bikes you can ride. Bored with the tri-bike? Hop on a cyclecross or mountain bike for a ride!

19. Save time by commuting by bike. Commuting skill 2 birds with 1 stone (not literally, birds are cool). You can get a workout and get to where you’re going.


20. Invest in proper running shoes. Running in the wrong shoes can lead to injury and burnout fast. Find a shoe that works for you and stick with it.

21. Practice running drills often. Running requires much more technique than many new athletes think. Just like swimming, learn what good technique is and practice it.

22. Engage your core every run. Don’t get sloppy with your posture, run tall and proud!

23. Don’t be afraid of the treadmill, but don’t be a treadmill addict. Treadmill running forces you to run at your chosen pace or incline, this can be very useful it training. Just don’t become addict to treadmill.

24. Vary your run terrain. Go easy on your knees by hitting the trails or bark dust every once in a while.

25. Run like you’re holding a chip in your hand. Keep your hands relax but tone, imagine you’re holding a potato chip between your thumb and pointer finger. You don’t want to break the chip, or let it fall out of your hand.

26. Run barefoot. Now I’m not saying you should go out and run a 5k completely barefoot. What I mean is do a few 10-20 seconds barefoot strides in soft grass or sand. Not only does it keep your running form on point, but it feels awesome.


27. Maximize time by doing strength work after swimming. Heading over to the gym for a quick strength session is a convenient way to maintain or even build strength for endurance.

28. Don’t have a gym? Do a strength workout at home! With the athletes I coach I organize workouts only using body-weight all the time.

29. Work on sport specific strength to increase performance. Although strength training is important for endurance athletes, don’t forget what the overall goal is. Keep exercises specific to triathlon, not bodybuilding.

30. Focus on your weak areas. Triathlete weaknesses tend to be shoulders, hips, and core. Be sure to incorporate exercises to target these areas.

31. Always, Always, Always maintain proper form when doing strength exercises. Sacrificing form for more weight may boost your ego in the short term, but can quickly lead to serious injury.

32. Increase stability, balance, and strength by doing single leg exercises. Balancing on leg strengths all the small muscles fibers that can be missed with certain exercises. If you can stand on foot in exercise, do it!


33. Don’t over hydrate or under hydrate simply drink to thirst. Listen your thirst and carry a water bottle with you wherever you go, especially around a hot race.

34. Fuel before a training session or race. Pre workout of race food will literally fuel your workout or race. Learn how to pick the right foods here.

35. Fuel your performance. Training sessions over around 90 minutes require some food to keep you moving. 200-400 calories per hour of mostly carbohydrate works best for most.

36. Recovery with fueling after a workout or race. After hard training sessions, it’s important to consume a meal of mostly carbohydrate with a little bit of protein. Get some meal ideas here.

37. Fueling on non training days. Remember that training days and rest days are different are animals when it comes to fueling. On rest you don’t need nearly as many carbohydrates as you are training days.

38. Different types of sugar. Energy gels, drinks, and chews are composed primarily of sugar however, not all sugars work for certain individuals try different products to see what works for you.

39. Stick with what works. When it comes to putting food in your body, you know what works best. Stick to it when racing as changes in your diet can hinder performance on race day.

40. Every workout doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t over do sports nutrition, keep it simply and remember, not every training session has to be perfect.


41. Plan your year properly. Organize your training around your priority races. Read more about planning your year here.

42. Plan your month properly. Be sure to include an easier week where you can rest and test your progress. Additionally I like the athletes I coach to focus on thing each month. For example: June will be focused on increasing running speed.

43. Plan your week properly. I personally think all endurance athletes need at least one day completely off. If not off (which is hard for some) at least extremely low intensity.

44. Plan your day properly. If you haven’t realized by now triathlon requires a lot of planning. If you’re self-coached you need to plan your day properly. For example: allow for proper rest between workouts.

45. Build a triathlon base. Of the all the aspects of triathlon training the base is most important. Just like building a house you need a solid foundation. Don’t slack on base training workouts.

46. Focus on limiters. It sounds obvious may triathletes often get so wrapped up in completely workouts they forget to focus on what’s really important.

47. Pay attention to the “fun meter”. With triathlon training I often ask the triathletes I coach how they are feeling on the the “fun meter”. If they are not having fun with training something is wrong (unless they are just whining…). If you’re reading this, chances are you do triathlons for fun and not as a job.

48. Race like a champion. A race is your day to shine! When you show up the start line, don’t worry about whether or not you could have done more. This your time to race not think, do it!

49. Celebrate after a race. No matter how you did on race day celebrate your journey to the race. Take some time to reflect on your training and racing and start thinking about your next goal.

50. Be realistic with your triathlon planning. When planning your triathlon training for the year, month, or day you need to be realistic with your time available. Missing works you scheduled can quickly lead to a lack of confidence in your training.


51. Seek help if you’re overwhelmed. If you’re new to triathlon or simply confused with all the information out there, contact me or leave your comments below and I’ll help you out!

About Brad Haag

Brad is a certified USAT triathlon coach, a certified USAC cycling coach, and a certified NCSF personal trainer. Brad specializes in coaching endurance and warrior class athletes to peak performance. He can be found at HaagsAthletics.com.

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