Many triathletes jump into the 3-sport event with the mindset of “How hard can it be?”. You just do some swimming, biking and running right?
Technically, yes that’s all there is to it. But then you do your first triathlon and get hooked.
You start to train harder buy more expensive gear and the sport of triathlon starts to consume you.
For some reason though, you aren’t getting any better. Does that sound familiar?
Triathlon Coaches Know Best
It’s for this reason that getting a triathlon coach or talking to one is always a smart decision.
Most of these coaches have been in the sport a long time and have seen it all. They know what works and what doesn’t.
They know how you need to train and what steps need to be taken for you to improve in the sport of triathlon.
Sometimes all it takes is a little reminder that what you are doing is the correct approach. Other times you need a kick in the butt to switch things up and get out of your stubborn habits.
Whatever you need, some insights from triathlon coaches are indispensable.
Since a lot of you can’t just reach out and talk to the best triathlon coaches in the country I figured I would do it for you.
Afterall, what good is a triathlon blog if they don’t talk to the people you wish you could talk to?
Here is what 4 of the best triathlon coaches in the country had to say.
1. Prioritize Technique & Form
I am going to use everyone’s favorite Ironman athlete Lionel Sanders as an example for this one.
Lionel is the hardest worker in the room. Always. But he doesn’t win everything. Why? Technique.
Early in his career he would push 50+ more watts on average during the bike leg of the Ironman and still get beat. He was working harder but still getting beat. How could that be possible?
It’s possible because he was wobbling and wasn’t very aerodynamic. AKA his form needed a lot of work.
The same thing happened on his runs. Lionel is an incredibly fast runner but people like Jan Frodeno and Patrick Lange would constantly beat him because their running technique was so much more efficient.
Technique allows you to utilize your body to perform better while requiring less energy. That’s pretty much all it boils down to.
Head triathlon coach for the Youth Olympic Games and Level 3 certified triathlon coach Ian Murray said, “Even the shortest triathlon is an aerobic event. Triathletes must prioritize technique first and foremost. When an athlete swims, bikes, and runs with excellent technique they reduce the risk of injury and raise the ceiling on their potential for speed. The prioritization of perfect form yields the greatest results.”
2. Train Smart
Often times triathletes are a stubborn bunch. We think we need to constantly push ourselves into exhaustion or else we aren’t going to perform well on race day.
Instead what triathletes need to focus on is training smarter not harder. If you talk to any pro athlete this is one of the biggest differentiators between success and failure.
This usually leads to overtraining and extreme fatigue which just hurts more than it helps.
You need to plan workouts properly so that you have easy and hard workouts. Fast training sessions and slow training sessions.
That allows your body to continue to improve while also maximizing efficiency. You simply cannot expect your body to train at 100% every single workout for countless hours per week.
It will fail eventually.
USAT National Development Coach and Level 3 certified triathlon coach Melissa Mantak said, ““It’s common in triathlon to hear of athletes doing all their runs on tired legs, only tired legs. The run on race day is always on legs that are fatigued from the swim and bike, that’s a given. Training on tired legs is important to prepare you for the demands of your race and help you run efficiently when tired. But, when working to improve your run (faster, healthier running), plan for key sessions (long run, speed, tempo, etc.) on fresh legs. This gives you the most benefit your quality sessions.”
I also had the pleasure of speaking with 2016 Olympic Triathlon coach Jarrod Evans and he had similar insights. Jarrod said, “For triathletes looking at more ‘performance’ based outcomes, first you need to know what the demands of competition are. Knowledge, before preparation is key. You should aim to structure your training to meet those demands and progressively you should aim to train to exceed those demands before your target event or events. If you have this knowledge, your training will take on an extra edge and motivation.”
3. Train Your Weaknesses
This might be the most overlooked thing by triathletes. We often think that if we are good at one of the 3 disciplines we must train harder in that so we can excel on race day.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Triathlon is a sport of endurance so often times the person who excels the most is the one who can go the fastest while exerting the least amount of energy.
In order to do that you need to improve your weaknesses first and foremost. Just because you were a collegiate swimmer doesn’t mean you should do a swim workout every day. Focus on how bad you are at biking or transitions and work on them.
Founder of QT2 Systems and coach to numerous professional triathletes, Jesse Kropelnicki said, “Make sure you continuously review your top five limiters, and then make it your priority to solve these first. Limiters might include leg strength on the bike, run durability or a big one, fueling. True progress is achieved by doing this review/improvement repeatedly, over time.”
You might be a well educated triathlete that does a lot of research and is constantly on top of his training, nutrition and everything else.
But the fact of the matter is that these triathlon coaches still know a lot more than you. I promise.
These individuals have devoted their lives to the sport of triathlon and know exactly what you need to perform better.
I was lucky enough to chat with these 4 coaches for all of you so do yourself and favor and take some of their pointers to heart.