Improving your Triathlon Race Times!

Now that you have completed a few Triathlons, you should be concentrating on trying to improve your race times.  Although it is hard to compare times from race to race as there are many variables including weather conditions and the race venue, it is still a good time to go back over your last few races, review your times and set goals for your upcoming races.

Review Past Performances

To try and determine what goals you want to set yourself, you should go back and look over your previous results.  A great way to review them is set up your own results spreadsheet.  Copy your times from your previous race results and then paste them into your spreadsheet and continue to add to this as you continue to race. This is also a great way to see how you have gobe over a season and how effective your tarining has been.

Considering Conditions 

Preparing to get into the open water

Sometimes it is hard to recall what the conditions were like from a previous race, so a good way is to add comments to your Race Results Spreadsheet.  Add a column in and note down any factors that may have influenced your race such as weather conditions – including water conditions (choppy/flat/tide etc), wind, rain and even how you felt – anything that may have impacted on your race.  You can then easily go back and review this before your next race and factor this into your goal setting.

Goal Setting

Break down your race into each discipline (leg), and write down goal times for each leg rather than an overall race time.  This helps you keep on track with your goal as you race.  Check your watch at intervals throughout your race to see how you are going, if you see you are behind your goal time then use this as an incentive to push yourself that little bit harder.  There is nothing more challenging than racing against the clock!

Improving your Times to reach your Goals

You have now set your goals – now let’s go out and get them! Goals are set to challenge yourself, to push yourself that little bit harder in training and racing and there is no better feeling than when you cross the finish line knowing you have reached your goal.  So let’s put a few things in place now to help get you there.

Speed/interval Training

Example: You have been racing for 3 months and probably training longer, so you have developed a sound fitness base.  To improve your times now over a Sprint Distance, you should incorporate speed/interval training.  To do this, build into your training one speed session a week for each of your disciplines.  For your run you can incorporate intervals such as 4-6 x 500m hard effort, 1min rest.  On the bike you want to find somewhere where you can ride uninterrupted.  Once you have done 5-10km warm-up, complete speed intervals such as 6-8 x 1km hard effort, 1km easy.  Similar can be done in the pool. Instead of just jumping in and swimming laps at a constant pace, break it up and include intervals such as 2 x 150m solid effort, 1min recovery, 4 x 100m hard effort, 30sec recovery, 4 x 50m hard effort, 20sec recovery.  (Your ‘hard efforts’ should be about 10-15% harder than your race pace.)  The idea of speed/interval training is to simulate the intensity of a race and to overload your body by where it is then allowed to recover and ADAPT to the increased intensity.  Over-time this allows your body to cope with harder more intense training sessions- and therefore faster racing!

Working on your weaknesses

The biggest gains can be made from working on your weaknesses.  So if swimming isn’t your strength, make sure you put in the effort to develop your technique and swimming fitness. Join a swim squad or Triathlon squad (Tri Alliance have beginner and learn to swim programs to help with technique and confidence in the open water), or simply make sure you are doing 2-3 swims a week rather than focusing on what you ‘enjoy’ or are better at.  The same applies for the bike and run legs.  Work on your weaknesses now and you will see a significantly bigger improvement than working on your strongest legs.

Reviewing your goals

After your race always go back and review your goals.  Look at what went right and replicate this into your next race, but also look at what went wrong.  Did your legs feel too heavy on your run? Maybe you pushed the bike too hard.  Did you take too long in transition? Did your pace drop towards the end of your run? Once you know what went right and what didn’t, you can work on developing your training to ensure you don’t make the same mistake twice.

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