Are you still following the same training plan you did 10 years ago—or worse, blindly adopting the latest trend without understanding whether it’s right for you? No, you hired a coach? Good for you, money well spent! Triathlon is not a cheap sport but the investment you are making in a qualified coach is the best money you will spend throughout your triathlon career. But, if you want to piss off your coach just follow these common training mistakes:
You’re focused on losing weight!
Cutting out whole food groups, obsessively counting calories or carbs, or making yourself crazy with any particular nutrient or food shouldn’t be mistaken for healthy eating.
Eating well isn’t about restraint. To perform at your peak, you need to bring eating back to a simple pleasure that nourishes you and your athletic goals. You need to take food restriction off the table and instead eat minimum amounts of nourishing foods that satisfy your body with nutrient-rich foods first. If you can’t recognize the ingredients then limit your intake. It is that simple. If you limit simple sugars in the beginning of your training season your body will not crave them, and since your workouts are mostly shorter than 90 minutes you don’t need any additional fuel other than a well balanced whole food diet.
You Sneak in Extra Workouts (UGH this is my biggest pet peeve)
Yes, those are the ones where you go 75 miles instead of 50 because you are trying to make up a bike workout from a few days ago. Or where you skip a rest day in favor of some hill repeats because you think that the worse you feel, the better you’ll get. As a coach, I hate it when people don’t take the recovery weeks or rest days I scheduled and run into fatigue issues down the road. If you miss a workout move forward not backward and trust your coach and commit to the plan. On days that rest is scheduled, rest is your training, it’s not a break from it.
You Believe That the Only Way to Get Fast is to Go Fast
You will see gains in all three disciplines by developing sound technique, especially in the base phase of your training. Building technique often means doing a workout in a slow and focused way. Instead of judging every workout’s success by the clock, these workouts need to be measured by how much you have focused on improving. Swim workouts should have drills focused on your particular weakness, bike workouts on the trainer should have single leg drills and drills focused on smooth complete even pedal strokes and run workouts should have drills that also focus on muscle imbalances.
You Do the Workouts “They” are Doing
Doing the same workout you find in the latest triathlon article or what your favorite pro is doing this week might not give you an edge. That’s because it may be completely incompatible with your body and your goals. There’s so much advice out there, and a mistake that people make is that they fail to either understand or filter out the stuff that isn’t relevant. If in doubt ask your coach! Advice isn’t black and white. You and your coach can figure out what works for you.
You ‘Train Your Core’
Isolating your core with a “core workout” is obsolete! Come on people holding a plank for a minute or longer WILL NOT make you a better triathlete! But learning to use your core in concert with your arms and legs will. Research shows more activation of the core muscles during deadlifts and squats than in ‘core’ exercises. Dynamic exercises like these and lunges, step-ups, presses, dips and similar exercises make your whole body, including your torso, more powerful.
Here is a link to a simple strengthening routine and although there is a plank in this routine it is a type that is focused on bilateral balance, which is balancing the left and right side of your body which will help you in all aspects of triathlon
You Do Lots of Long and Low Base Training
Going long and slow in the beginning of the season may not be the best solution. Doing moderate-intensity workouts for five to 10 hours a week does not create enough workout load to stimulate improvement in most triathletes beyond beginners. The idea of building a base of long and slow workouts became popular, but research shows that the variable most associated with injuries is too much volume. Reverse periodization is how a training season should begin. That doesn’t mean you should abandon longer, slower training altogether. It’s not a mistake to go long and slow but there has to be a balance.