10 Most Common Triathlon Mistakes

A lot can go wrong when you're training for and racing a triathlon. Some things are out of your control, but other errors are easy to avoid. Here's how



by Courtney Johnson

bike racer

As a triathlete training for an event you have a lot on your plate. The last thing you should be dealing with is a silly, avoidable mistake. Fast racing comes with smart training and smart planning. With just a little thought and discipline you can take your racing to a new level. Follow these simple tips and all your hard work will pay off on the big day. 

Picture credit: Mike Harrington/Getty Images.

Training Mistakes

1. Constant intensity

While building your aerobic base is vital, you must also spend time at various intensities, such as race pace and recovery.

“The human body has several energy systems, each of which is accessed by training at a different intensity,” says UK coach Simon Ward of TheTriathlonCoach.com.

“The primary energy zone you develop should be specific to the requirements of your key races but you should not ignore the others. For example, while racing Ironman you may be operating at 70-80 percent of your maximum heart rate for most of the event but a hard climb or effort into the wind might push up your heart rate. Some training in this zone would definitely help you to cope more effectively,” he says.

2. Skipping brick workouts

Brick workouts help train the body for the physical and mental demands of race day. Learning to teach the body to transition from the swim to the bike and the bike to the run quickly means that you will more quickly have your cycling and run legs, rather then wobbling and shuffling for miles.

3. Not practising transitions

Fast transitions can give you an edge on the competition. With competitors breathing down your neck and the clock ticking, being rushed and disorganised can demoralize and drain you. By practising transitions you will be able to stay cool on the day and even save yourself valuable seconds.

4. Doing too much

You need time to passively and actively recover in order to repair both the mind and body. Overtraining is the biggest cause of burnout and injury. You should take rest and recovery days as seriously as you do your training days.

“Every athlete that I coach is encouraged to have at least one full ‘no training’ day per week, preferably not on a day when it is impossible to train,” says Ward. “I also build in a recovery week – 60-70 percent of the previous week’s training volume and definitely no hard stuff) – after every two weeks of harder training.”

5. Ignoring your training goal

The notion that you must go fast to race fast mentality can take you only so far. Building a base, endurance and speed takes time. No matter the distance, you must have the necessary level of base fitness to achieve true race pace.

Spending all your time on speed work won’t prepare your body for the transition from the bike to the run. Building up your training time too quickly can lead quickly to injury and constantly trying to train above your ability will lead to burnout and a lot of missed goals.

On the next page: How to avoid five common racing mistakes.


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