Want to take your cycling into a competitive arena and get all-round fitness to boot? Our experts' guide to entering a triathlon will hit the spot.
Sweat Your Swimming Technique
‘Concentrate on getting your swimming technique right with short training sessions of 30 minutes to begin with. A lot of beginners try to muscle the stroke though the water. You need to relax and concentrate on the catch phase. Don’t rush the front end of the stroke as you put your hand into the water because you’re actually trying to grab hold of the water rather than just slipping your hand through it. Imagine pulling yourself over a barrel,’ says Gavin Smith high performance coach at Loughborough University.
Crank Up the Cadence
‘Avoid pushing too big a gear when cycling. Aim for 90-100 pedal strokes per minute. It’s a more efficient way to pedal that relies more on the aerobic system. Once you get off the bike for the running leg of the triathlon your leg muscles will be much less fatigued and more resistant to cramp.’ GS
Train Your Supporting Acts
‘Alistair and I go to the gym twice a week to do strength and conditioning workouts. If I don’t workout for a couple of weeks I get injured - it’s all bodyweight stuff like lunges and we do a circuit of exercises. For me it switches things on rather than getting them superstrong, so that when I run I keep using the muscles,’ says Jonathon Brownlee, ITU World Champion and Olympic Bronze medalist.
Throw Some Bricks
‘Try Brick training to prepare your muscles for swapping between the race legs. These are training sessions on the bike, immediately followed by a run. Treat the handover like a real transition. Do one steady, 2-hour Brick session and one faster, 90-minute session per week. Use the last mile on the bike to really spin out the pedals under light load and flush the lactate out of the muscles.’ GS
Don’t Run Yourself Into The Ground
‘Do a maximum of two high-intensity running workouts a week. The rest of your running needs to be steady or easy to reserve energy for the other disciplines. You will get stronger and there’s no reason why you can’t work on your running form once your body has got used to swimming and cycling.’ GS
Find a Training Buddy
‘We train together and I think it’s very important for both of us. We’ve done that all along and it’s good for motivation to get out and do sessions but also in sessions racing each other,’ Alistair Brownlee, Olympic Gold medalist explains how to stay stoked in training and push hard to re-create race conditions.
Prepare for Open Water
‘Learn how to swim in open water, wearing a wetsuit. Despite the wind and waves, it should actually feel easier because the neoprene makes your chest, hips and legs more buoyant. But be a bit more aggressive in the recovery as you bring your arm out of the water because wetsuits do restrict your shoulder movement. Remember to sight every few strokes to check your direction – there are no white lines on the bottom of a lake!’ GS
Now Book Your Race!
Now you’ve got the inside track on triathlon, make sure you book your place on an event to give you a goal date to train towards. ‘Five or six years ago people still thought of triathlon as an extreme sport that nutters do, but now there really is that opinion that anyone can enter it to challenge themselves or raise money for charity,’ says Jonathon Brownlee.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your GP before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.