1. Never schedule a long run and a hard run on consecutive days
Doing 2 challenging run sessions back to back or even worse on the same day puts tremendous amounts of stress on your legs in a short period. Making this scheduling mistake will more than likely lead to an injury or extended recovery, leaving you sitting at home when you should be getting back to training! Even experienced runners typically need 24hrs between long and hard runs, while most do best with 48hrs in between.
2. Avoid strength training on the same day as a long or hard run.
Although I’m a huge fan strength training for endurance sports, doing so on the same day as a long or hard run can be dangerous at best. If you lift before a long or hard run, you put yourself in a situation where you’re forced to run on legs that are already fatigued. Even just doing upper body exercises will still put stress on your musculoskeletal system leaving you semi-fatigued. Doing strength training after a long or hard run is even more dangerous as strength training requires concentration and fresh muscles to maintain form. Don’t believe me? After your next long or hard run, try doing just a few bodyweight squats and watch as your legs wobble just trying support your bodyweight. As you can imagine adding even more weight to your body can lead down the road to an injury.
3. Perform strength training after swimming, not before
Swimming requires a tremendous amount technique to increase efficiency. Going into a swim session with sore muscles from strength training can have you swimming laps but going nowhere in terms of improvement. Swim when you are fresh then hit the weights.
4. Don’t train too much
I can’t express it enough, it’s better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained. Contrary to popular believe there is no magic distance or number of hours you need to hit in your triathlon training. The goal of training is to challenge your body a little at a time to get better, not load it with more than it can handle. If you’re questioning if you’re training too much, you probably are. Also read 5 Warning Sounds You’re Overtrainedto help you to decide.
5. Don’t train too little
Although training too much is more common. Self-coached triathletes can also train too little. In some cases triathletes don’t want to train more, this is totally fine if you’re content with your current fitness level and simply want to finish a triathlon. However, if you truly wanted to improve you do need to put in some training time to improve.
6. Listen to your body
Several different professional triathletes have told me that the reason races like ironman are usually won by men and women well into their 30’s and even 40’s is not because of some genetic ability to go longer as you older. But rather because of maturity as an athlete. Knowing when to train and when to rest is part of this athlete maturity and is crucial to success. Gritting your teeth to get through a training session when you’re already exhausted or worse, have an injury can derail your training quickly. If your body doesn’t feel right in some way, listen to what it’s trying to tell you.
7. Have a plan
If you haven’t already read What Is a “Good” Triathlon Training Program to learn why it’s important to have a plan and how to design your own. If you don’t have plan for your goals, plan to fail.