Spring time means the smell of newly blooming flowers, crisp fresh spring air and dormant grasses turning green. For most of us it means time to get outside see what all that base training did for you this winter. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is: ?I have done my base training, and my races are still weeks away, so what should I do?? My recommendation for you as triathlete, if you feel your base work is adequate, is to work on five areas between now and your first race of the season that will help you continue your improvement.
#1 ‚Äì Determine your weaknesses. Work on the aspects of your training that you aren?t 100% happy with. If you feel that you are lacking swim endurance, then do swim longer sets. If you feel you are lacking hill climbing strength on the bike, this is the time to do extra reps in training. Some folks feel strong and have plenty of endurance but lack skills. If this is the case, then get the advice of a swim instructor or a run coach to assess your form and technique. Subtle changes can go a long way to improving performance.
#2 ‚Äì Improve your mental toughness. Having skills, endurance, and speed is worthless if you don?t have the mental capability to back it up. Weak-minded athletes think in terms of ?hope? and ?wish? while strong-minded athletes think in terms of ?I will? and ?I am?. If you hear, ?I hope to go under 50 minutes during the 10k run?, the chances that they will are pretty slim. If you hear, ?I am running under 50 minute pace in training and I will do it in the race too? that athlete will probably succeed. Setting goals, writing them down and keeping them realistic is all part of improving your mental toughnes. Pick up a book if you don?t know where to begin. A good mental toughness book will have exercises to help you know exactly what your weaknesses are. The top athletes work on their mental game all the time, that?s why they?re on top.
#3 ? Challenge yourself to do a workout that you don?t think you can complete. What? Yes, push yourself to go just a bit farther than you think you can. If you have a sprint tri coming up and you are worried about the distance, set up a training day where you go beyond the distance. Swim 1000 yards, bike 20 miles and run 4 miles. On race day, it will be that much easier. Another idea is to bike 40 miles if the longest you have gone is 25, or run 10 miles if your longest run has been 6 miles. Bottom line; find out where your limits are, and push beyond them. I am not giving you permission to go out and injure yourself, but go out there and see how far or how long you can go for.
#4 ? Practice your transitions. Most of us will run after a bike ride before our first race of the season, but how many of us practice getting our wetsuits off, helmets and shoes on and mounting our bikes? Go to an early season race and you will get your answer. Practice the transition, it?s FREE time against your opponents, if your opponent is only the clock.
#5 ? Train in race-like conditions. This is probably the most important of the five recommendations. If you can?t train on the actual course, you should try to simulate the course you will be racing on. If the course has a lot of long slow hills, ride and run on some long slow hills. If the course finishes running and riding into a headwind, do the same in training. If the course is in hot conditions, then train with long sleeves to get used to the heat. Whatever you can do in training to simulate the course, will help you on race day.
I hope you work on your five points between the end of base and your first race. When it comes to race day, you will be glad you did!
Michael Ricci is a USAT certified coach. He can be reached for personal coaching at firstname.lastname@example.org