Guest Post: Training for a tri? Do what you're worst at

Monday, July 30, 2012

In many ways, sport mirrors life.  It teaches you how to sacrifice short-term pain for long-term gain; how to motivate yourself and others; how to win and how to lose.  But if there’s one lesson you don’t take home with you, it’s this one.

Focus on your weaknesses.

When you’re dealing with three sports, your biggest weakness is your biggest opportunity.  But there’s one extra layer of complexity.  The bike is 50% of a triathlon race, and the swim only 20%.  So what matters most?

One of the simplest solutions is to compare your race splits to the fastest few people.  We use an average of the top ten athletes, to even out individual differences.  Here is an example of how a TFN Coaching athlete compares.

His background is in swimming, and you can see he came out of the water 30 seconds up.  He lost 3 minutes on the bike, and a further minute on the run.  Suddenly things are simple; 75% of potential time saving is on the bike.  In addition to that, most newer triathletes find it easiest to make big improvements on the bike.  Six months’ hard work may save 1-2 minutes on the swim or run, but can take off 4-5 minutes on the bike.

As a result of this analysis, he spent 60% of the year training cycling. By the last race of the year, he posted the second fastest bike split and finished 3rd overall.

Systematically find your weaknesses, and make them strengths.

Ian Waites (@ijthwaites ) works for TFN Coaching (@TFNCoaching).  TFN Coaching has a 20-year history in triathlon.  Their biggest strength is in swimming with a World Champion and double Olympic freestyle swimmer, two former GB swimmers and two National standard swimmers on the team.  They are very performance-focused and are always looking to find the most efficient use of your training hours; often helping people to train less, but achieve more. 

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