Training for a triathlon is all about time management. Most triathletes have families, jobs and other commitments and still manage to find the time to train for all three disciplines. So, whether you’re taking on your first triathlon or looking to improve upon your previous ones, we’ve got you covered.
We spoke to Dylan Morris, Head Coach at Cycle Specific, to get his advice and tips for creating your own awesome triathlon training plan.
Training for a triathlon is all about time management. Deciding to train for three disciplines, in our busy modern lives, can feel like a massive commitment. With a good plan, you can succeed, believes Morris. “Early starts are a must, along with some unsociable hours in the evenings. Some athletes also cycle to work or run during their lunch hour.”
However, some triathletes find this difficult. Realising this, CycleSpecific are in the process of opening the UK’s first triathlon training facility under one roof, in Swansea. “TriHQ will be a place where time-crunched athletes can come to train with other like-minded athletes, all pushing each other to achieve their goals,” he says.
Whether you are a first-time triathlete, an experienced IRONMAN or just a runner or cyclist, TriHQ will be a place where you can train together in all three triathlon disciplines.
Decide on your goal
Triathlon is made up of 60 per cent cycle, 30 per cent run and 10 per cent swim. “Right from the start, you need to decide if you are a completer or a competer,” says Morris. “What you achieve will depend on what goals you set yourself.”
You may also have a weak discipline, but even if you do, your goal is to keep going. For example, if you are a completer and swimming is your weakest discipline, it’s not going to affect the bigger race. “Just make sure you can get out of the water feeling strong,” says Morris. “It’s said that if you’re tired on the bike, you can freewheel, if you are tired during the run, you walk but if you get tired during the swim, it could be dangerous.” Rule number one is to make sure you get enough swim training done. “Even the weakest of swimmers can achieve great things in triathlon,” believes Morris.
Train for the course you are racing
Knowing the course you will be racing is also going to be crucial. Morris says: “We have coached hundreds of athletes for IRONMAN Wales, which is renowned to be one of the world’s toughest. The hills of Pembrokeshire are tough; the bike is hilly, the run is hilly and even the swim can be hilly!”
Once you know the terrain you will be competing on, focus on what your coach thinks you need to work the most on. “It’s easy to train your strongest discipline,” states Morris. “The hard bit is getting good at all three.”
Brick sessions, where you replicate going from the bike to the run, will be essential. “When you first try these, it seems like you are hardly moving but when you look down at your Garmin you’ll probably see you are shifting quite well.”
During the bike, you may be hitting speeds of 20-30mph. The scenery around you is travelling fast past your eyeline. When you get into the run, this scenery isn’t moving as fast. Morris says: “You naturally think you are not moving but you’ll probably be running too fast. Your legs will also feel strange at first but after a mile or so you’ll get into a rhythm and your natural pace.”
Also, don’t forget to train the fourth discipline of triathlon, the transition. “Many athletes only experience transition during a race, which isn’t an ideal time to learn the rules and efficiencies of changing from swim to bike and bike to run,” advises Morris.
How much is too much?
Making sure you achieve the right level of training in each discipline will ensure race-day success. “In training, you need to break down the three disciplines,” says Morris. “I believe, on separate days, you should swim the full distance of your race, and cycle the full distance, before you taper for race day. You don’t need to run the full distance, though.”
Working on your open water swim is important. “If you do the full distance in the water, you could follow this with a short bike or short run,” he says. “On a different day, cycle the full distance on fresh legs, and maybe add a 10K brick run after it.”
The running discipline doesn’t have to be completed before race day. Morris’s research has shown that over-eager triathletes, who choose to do an ultra-distance run early in their training, take up to two months to regain their full cycling legs, due to fatigue. “As you increase your cycling training it’s surprising how much your running will improve alongside; you have to trust in this.”
Morris’s tips for triathlon success:
- If you are not confident in the swim then get out open water swimming more. The more you experience it, the more confident you become. Always swim with others and join a tri club.
- Don’t ever try anything new on a race. Race with the nutrition you’ve trained with. You don’t want any nasty surprises come race day.
- Obviously don’t go mad in the run up to the race. Make sure you taper properly. Use this time to get your bike serviced and make sure you have all the bits you need in your triathlon. Practise changing your tyres in an event of a puncture.
- Enjoy it! You’ve put the hours in during training. The race is just the icing on the cake.
About Dylan Morris
A former Royal Marine Commando, Dylan is a life-long passionate cyclist and IRONMAN Wales finisher. He has completed a 350-mile solo endurance race in under 21 hours, the 911-mile Capital Challenge and cycled 1100K across the Himalayas. Dylan uses a combination of applied science and intelligent coaching methods tailored specifically to the individual’s requirements, with a proven track record of success with hundreds of athletes.
TriHQ will offer the world’s biggest wattbike studio, with 40 state-of-the-art wattbikes, an endless swimming pool, treadmills, strength and conditioning, yoga and Pilates and sports therapy.
Forth Edge is a biomarker testing and tracking service specifically designed for athletes looking to optimise performance. If you’re competing in your first triathlon or looking to smash your PB, our simple lab analysed at-home blood tests help you to unlock your weakness from the inside out.
Cycle Specific is an affiliate partner of Forth Edge and recommends the Endurance profile to those training for triathlon.