Welcome to the start of race season! As one who is a bit OCD about being a good athlete and coach, I wanted to provide some insight on several things that will make your life and, if you have one, your coach’s life easier. These suggestions should also help you get done faster…
Please read the entire list of suggestions. Ask questions of your friends, coaches, and Facebook groups but don’t listen to all of them as some simply should not be offering input. Try to figure out who reliably offers the most valid input and listen to them, or get a good coach. The more you know, the better you will feel heading into that tough training session or your A race.
Practice, practice, practice. What works for one, may not work for others. Ask questions about what others have done to be successful and try a plan for yourself. Write down what worked and what did not work. List it in the notes section of your phone or anything to tell you how much fluids or scoops or whatever you used when you came up short or nailed it.
I choose to use Generation Ucan for my nutrition on the bike. Others choose infinit, tailwind, or some other nutrition. No one cares what you use as long as you know it will work for you on race day. That comes from writing down when it worked and replicating it systematically on longer days and race simulations. Do not introduce something new on race day because you did not practice.
Seek out a professional like Micah Morlock at Georgia Cycle Sport or Matt Cole at Podium Multisport and All3sports that will spend the time getting you as comfortable as possible. The better your fit, the better your bike split will be on race day and the easier your body will adjust to the run. Bike fits are not inexpensive, but can be some of the best money you can spend on yourself as you prepare to race.
Training Peaks/Garmin Connect/Other Programs used to Communicate:
First off, make sure your training zones match up on your different devices or the data will be screwy. That is done by going into the app and looking for zones and adjusting.
If you have a coach, put in as much information about your training as possible in the comments section. Every coach is different, but I think I speak for most when I say the more information we have the better we understand your workout. For example, put information in about your nutrition, if you felt fatigue or if you felt great. Tell us the tempo was hard or you could have gone harder. Whatever you think we should know is information we want to know. Don’t just say “that was hard”. Say “I struggled to hit the intervals on the last rep of every set” or list the data point that you tried to hit and what you actually hit.
If you are not a coached athlete, but use TP as a means to hold your workouts, I would do the same thing as coached athletes do. You can go back and review on how you felt about a particular workout. Memories fade, but words and data sets typed out never do.
Many of us use a Garmin 910XT, 920XT, Fenix, or 735XT. Some of you may have the newest version of the watch, the 935. It does not matter which one you have because they all provide similar data to you. Spend a few minutes learning the basics about your watch or computer and ask questions if you can’t find the answer. Visit websites if you want in depth reviews like the DC Rainmaker. Your life will be much easier and you will be more efficient understanding your watch, computer or both.
Here are some things that I want you to think about when looking at your watch:
Every device has several settings to accurately reflect the sport or activity you are doing. Make sure you select the correct sport for the session you are about to begin. I have started a run, in the past, in the bike mode, and it took me awhile to figure out why the data screens for my run did not look like how I set them up. Don’t be like me.
If you have a Garmin device you have a function called Laps. Laps provides notification when you hit certain thresholds you set the watch to provide you. I recommend and use 1 mile for the run and some multiple of 7 or 8 miles for the bike. I choose 7 or 8 miles on the bike because both numbers divide evenly into 56 or 112. I use the laps to help me know when to take nutrition on the bike. You can also set it for time intervals as well. Figure out what you like best and talk with your coach or others to see if what you are doing makes sense. Sometimes receiving unbiased feedback can help you make better decisions.
This is different from your laps alert. The lap function allows the data to be separated and reviewed more quickly by you and/or your coach. If you have a 4 x 400 run with 400 rest, it’s easier if you hit the lap button at the start and end of each 400 to gather the data you want to review. You can use the lap feature for your interval rides to capture the power data or during your swim so you can track your rest between sets. Lap is a feature that is easy to use. Don’t forget to use it to get the best data possible.
Every device has a limited battery life. Depending on the device, you may have anywhere from 13-18 hours of useable battery life. If you have a long day coming up, charge it so that you do not run out of battery during or before your workout. If your watch doesn’t get the information, did the training really happen?
Heart Rate Monitor Straps:
Many still use HR straps to gather HR data. Make sure to check the strap for cleanliness so you don’t have any issues with it getting your heart rate. Also, make sure you put the strap on tight enough. If you are seeing your HR drops during a workout, it’s probably because your strap is not on very well. Likewise for the watches with built in HR monitors. Keep them fastened securely.
Stop your watch at the completion of a workout:
When you are done with a workout, please stop the watch. Maybe you set a new record that now is not as impressive as it would have been if you just hit the button. You can always adjust later but it’s a pain so recall to hit stop!
Review your numbers after you upload:
If you know that you just biked for 2 hrs and you upload the data and it says something different, review your watch or computer and make the necessary adjustments in TP. Most of us review the data anyways, so take a quick minute to verify its accuracy. If it doesn’t make sense to you, then it probably won’t make sense to your coach.
Two workouts in a day/Weird Bricks:
Some of you may see two workouts or weird bricks (combination sessions) on your schedule on the same day. Why do some coaches do this? It’s an opportunity to change the way your body trains. This doesn’t mean that the workouts should be a completed as a brick workout unless that is what your plan says. Ask your coach if he/she wants them as separate workouts. If your plan says complete the workouts separately, leave as many hours in between them as you can. I understand that life can get in the way sometimes, but try your best to complete your day as listed.
We all have friends that we like to train with whenever possible. Sometimes the weather causes us to change our workouts too. If this happens to you, communicate with your coach so he/she knows you are going to move your days around. Remember to move your workouts, in TP, so you don’t upload Sundays’ ride on Saturday’s run. When you’re done with your day, put comments in the comments section and let us know what you have done.
Without support of your family, training and competing in triathlons is very difficult and often times not fun at all. Talk to your family about what they would like to do while you race and select races that will allow them to have fun while you race. I chose Ironman Chattanooga and Ironman Louisville because these races have many activities that my kids wanted to do. It made the day a little more enjoyable for my wife to not have to listen, as often, to whiny children. Don’t miss your kid’s activities while you train. Your kids are young for only so long and you will regret missing an important event in their lives. For most people, the swim workout should be the first one to go.
How many times have you felt a little twinge in your leg when you are running? Have your shoulders hurt while you are swimming? If you have an issue that is bothering a part of your body and it is not a normal feeling. Stop the activity. Find out what you can do to feel better and talk to your coach. If you need to, seek medical help to get this taken care of as quickly as possible. Missing a couple of training days is better than being out for months because you didn’t listen to your body.
Now is the time of year that getting outside becomes easier. Make the most of these rides and participate where you can. Many of us don’t train outside often. Group rides can help you feel safer on the open road. Find one and join in the fun. Try to ride with others that put safety first. There are listings at AthensGaBicycling.Com and on the interwebs for more formal or just local rides. Make sure you go with the group that is near your fitness and pace.
The Full Year Racing Schedule:
If you haven’t sent your coach a written schedule for the current year by now, then do it as soon as possible. Training plans are designed around you and your race schedule. Update your schedule for the current year in TP too. The more we know, as coaches, the better prepared we can have you on race day.
I am looking forward to a great racing season. Triathlon as a sport (and the team of Reapers) has grown by leaps and bounds since I joined at the end of 2012. Work hard and set your training habits now for a successful year. Always remember to have FUN, get after it and #DoYourJob!