Triathlon can be tough, but if you work hard enough at your training you will be more than ready for the challenge and will have a much more enjoyable time. With this in mind, we asked some some of our experts to write up their top training tips for each modality:
by Victoria Brown
In terms of triathlon training, the run usually involves the least training, but this doesn’t mean it should be ignored altogether.
Cover the distance
The most important thing is to stick to the distance you’ve signed up for – even if this involves a walk/run strategy!
Use the time between now and the race to gradually build up to your distance and ideally, aim to run a little further. On the day you will already have swam and cycled or rowed and cycled, and so the run will feel harder.
If you are used to running outside or have done very little running in the past then make sure you have practised running on a treadmill.
Even if you have no time expectation try and work out how long you need to run the distance. This will give you a realistic idea of what speed to set the treadmill. For example, if you want to run 5km in 30 minutes you will need to run at level 10.
Another fantastic way to train is intervals. Interval sessions build up your stamina by making you work harder than you want to run on the day. A simple session would include two minutes of fast running (faster than the pace you want to run on the day) and then one minute of recovery (easy jog). If you are hoping to run/ walk the distance then do two minutes of running and recover with one minute of walking. Repeat these intervals five to eight times depending on your fitness level.
This training session is essential if you’re taking part in a triathlon as the transition between cycling and running can be a real challenge. After a cycle session at your race pace (gear 4 and max 120 RPM) head straight to the treadmill and do a 10 minute run. Use this session to get used to the change of movement and muscle action and to the fact that your legs will feel like jelly!
Start slowly and gradually build up the speed so as to acclimatise your legs, this will mean that you can finish your run strong rather than starting at your optimum speed and having to slow down later. Try to finish strong – practise this in training and hopefully you will stay strong during the tri.
by Julian Meldrum
You can swim the Y Tri using whatever stroke or strokes you like, though for most people front crawl will be fastest. The only things you won't be able to do are walk, pull yourself along on the lane ropes, or use swimming aids (pull floats, paddles, fins, etc). In training for the event, make sure you build up your stamina so that you don’t have any problem swimming the full distance you've chosen. Distances range from eight lengths/200m – four lengths/100m for children – through to 30 lengths/750m.
Swimtag is very useful to check what pace you can do for a longer swim, in case you lose count of how many lengths you have swum or don't wear a stopwatch. Swimtag also gives you feedback on your stroke efficiency, by showing how many strokes you took for each length. It's free to members – and while you're about it, sign up to our pool challenge, too!
When you have an idea of how fast you can swim at a steady pace, the way to get faster is to swim repeats of (say) 50m or 100m, slightly faster than your steady pace, with controlled rest intervals which might start at 30 seconds and then be reduced as you get fitter and faster. Aim for at least two sessions a week.
It's also worth doing some of your training when your legs are tired – for example, after a spin class – so that you have an idea of how it will feel on the day, when you swim after completing a session on the bike and on the treadmill.
by Adrian Walters
To get the most from your cycling training sessions, you need to pay attention to your posture on the bike, your gear and your RPM.
Cycle set up
Seat height should be raised until level with the hip joint when standing. Adjust the handle bars until they are horizontally level with the seat height, preventing back discomfort. To adjust the seat position, place your elbow on the seat tip and adjust the distance from seat to handlebars, until your fingertips are able to rest on the gear leaver. Once on the bike, one knee at the end of a stride should be at a slight bend and the other knee at a 90 degree or less angle, pedal straps should be secure but not be too tight. The hips should remain square whilst cycling, if they are rocking from side to side the seat is possibly too high.
Pedalling stroke and RPM
Pedalling should be a smooth continuous action with even pressure throughout the pedal revolution. This involves pulling up with one foot using the toe clip, whilst pushing down with the other foot. Hips, knees and ankles should be in alignment throughout the exercise. To prevent unsafe cycling and freewheeling, the cycle gears have to be set to a minimum gear level 4. Aim for a RPM of up to 120 max. Make it count!
Keep the abs pulled in at all times to prevent the shoulders from “rounding”, elbows should be soft, and when leaning forward hinge from the hips so that the back still remains flat and the shoulders remain relaxed and away from the ears.
by Hamit Buhara
Check out this video from Olympic Medallist Chris Bartley to find out how to get your technique right.
With rowing, particular focus needs to be made to technique. How each stroke is expressed will affect how efficient (or not) your overall performance will be. Practice your timings and effort on the drive and recovery phases - the recovery should take approximately twice as long as your drive. The chain should remain in a straight line throughout your rowing strokes.
As the row is the first discipline in the event, pace yourself and think about long, generous strokes as opposed to short and fast.
There are four key areas to rowing technique –
- The start and finish position of each stroke
- Shoulders relaxed, weight is forward with shoulders in front of hips and arms extended
- Get as close to the flywheel as possible, your heels can lift
- The drive is initiated with your legs, push your heels into the footplates. Keep your arms extended at this point.
- Once the back is vertical, pull the handles with your arms towards your torso
- Shoulders remain back and down
- Lean your upper body back slightly to maximise the stroke
- Legs are straight and handle is pulled in under your ribs.
- Shoulders back and down with the grip relaxed and palm down.
- Straighten your arms prior to leaning from your hips
- Once your hands have cleared your knees, bend your knees towards the flywheel
- Do not rush the recovery, it’s called recovery for a reason!
Start with your damper setting between 3 – 5 and practice the four key areas above. Once you have honed your technique, vary the damper setting until it feels right for you. Do bear in mind that the higher the number, the more airflow in the flywheel and the harder the drive.
The monitor will show you how effective your strokes are from your strokes per minute (top right of the screen) and your average time to complete 500m, focus on keeping your SPM under 36.