Over this past year here on Fitegg.com we have discussed many aspects of triathlon ranging from training methods to mental fitness. The time has come to put all these topics together to create a complete picture of what I call an “ultimate triathlon machine”.
To be good in triathlon you need to train and better yet train properly. Find a coach, coach yourself, or have a training plan. Don’t train too little or too much and most importantly enjoy the journey of training for a triathlon. There is no secret workout, training plan, or other training technique that will bring you instant success. Stay consistent day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month and the results will come.
Being a triathlete requires a diet to meet the needs of extreme physical activity. Ensure your pre, during, and post activity foods are of the highest quality for your needs. What you eat outside of training is what to you, I personally follow a paleo style diet high in vegetables, animal protein, and healthy fats. This being said this type of eating may not work for you as an athlete. I coach several individuals who follow a vegetarian or pescetarian (vegetarian but with fish) diet as it works for them. Whatever your diet is, just be sure it’s helping you achieve your goals.
I can’t express enough the importance of rest/sleep enough. If you don’t feel like training, don’t be afraid of missing a workout. Your body will often give you signals it’s needs rest, listen to them. Beyond resting during waking hours, take sleep just as serious as training. Never sacrifice less sleep for more time to workout. If you do find yourself overtrained or need to recover quickly, read the 10 Shortcuts For Recovering From a Workout In Record Time.
This aspect of triathlon is just as if not more important than physical training but is rarely mentioned in most the information around the internet. I believe the reason for this is it’s uncomfortable to talk about. I personally have accepted a 2nd place finish simply because I didn’t want to go out of my comfort zone and I’ve won races because my competition didn’t. The moral of this story is when you’re racing to the finish line dead even with the guy next you, he or she who wants it more will get it.
Building mental fitness can be more challenging than building physical fitness as it’s not black and white. While I’m not a sports psychologist, as a triathlon coach I have found that overcoming obstacles in training is one of the best ways to build mental fitness. In other words, working through the pain of hard indoor cycling session and remembering that experience creates confidence on race day.
You could train like a champion but if it doesn’t translate into racing, in my opionion it is wasted. Remind yourself in your training that you can “win” workout, instead focus on how workout will help you on race day. Also, find ways to improve in every triathlon you do. Even professionals that have been racing for 20+ years still make mistakes and learn from them.
The ultimate triathlete is not created overnight or with shortcuts. Consistency and balance is the key to never ending improvement. Good luck on your personal triathlon journey!