Energy Link Triathlon Coaching top training tips

"Fact…..The Moroccan athletics team which
includes El Guerrouge
has a process their
National Team of athletes are involved in.  The
process is very
systematic and they
work in a group of 30 however, there is an understanding amongst
the athletes and their Coaches to respect individualism."

Energy Link Top Training Tips

Bruce and Christina Thomas

Between the two of us we have over 50 years involvement in this great sport. During that time we both have raced professionally in Australia & overseas and we have been coaching athletes for 17 years. What we have learned and experienced has been enormous. Our knowledge has come from first hand training and racing experience, through witnessing others, from study and education and we would both also say that our "feel" has also been instrumental as athletes and as triathlon coaches.

We wanted to pass on some of our top training "beliefs and tips". Hopefully you can take something from them and make it yours. Feel free to talk to us about them and ask questions if you need to.

Keep it simple:

It is not rocket science - success comes from the amount of effort, determination, perseverance and commitment you put into something. There is definitely a time and a place for complex and technical training however, you need to ask yourself - am I doing the simple things to the best of my ability and will more complex training save me the time I need or do I just need to be smarter?

Training has to be individual:

Thank goodness we are not all the makes life far more enjoyable! So many factors should go into successful training - background, medical and injury history, time availability, lifestyle, geographic etc. One of the most important factors that will influence your ability as an athlete is your physical make-up and genetics. These areas play a massive role in your performance capabilities, tolerances, and repair and recovery process just to name just a few. As coaches part of our role is to monitor and evaluate these areas in order to come up with an individual plan. We can assure you as professional and experienced coaches that there are many reasons why your programme may be different to someone else's even though you have the same race goals.

The Moroccan athletics team which includes El Guerrouge has a process their National Team of athletes are involved in.  The process is very systematic and they work in a group of 30 however, there is an understanding amongst the athletes and their Coaches to respect individualism. It is a compulsory behaviour line for the group. An example: They run by time 20,30,40minutes but Sulah Hissou never runs more than 1 hour of continuous running, and Khalid Skah runs very often over 1:15 - 1:20min, same event, same level of performance, different loads.

Have a plan (performance model) and make it specific:

Have a plan in place. Performance modelling comes from an understanding of what is required to meet your desired goal. What areas do you need to address to meet your goal/s?  You need to look at the event itself and Asses areas such as course requirements. Make sure that the race is really suited to you. If you are someone who is likely to become injured when you run hills then choosing a hilly course where you will need to train over hills may be an issue for you. On the other hand, hills or weight may be a issue and this will need to be addressed when setting your plan. You will also need to break the race down so that you can set some training goals. So, go back to school and work on a formula.

Desired swim time: 
30min 1500  / 100m pace aim is 2.00min

Desired IM time: 
11hours S: 1:20/100m pace 2.06 B: 5:45 / 31.3kmph R: 3:55/ 5:35 min/km

Break the event down and set up the training so that you can work towards the targets.
Another example of performance modelling: many triathletes struggle with the swim start in a race situation – the solution is to swim your race distance in training once per week leading up to the event so you can feel confident. Ideally, this would be dome in similar conditions to race day ie: in open water and in your wetsuit and practise going out hard for the first 200-400m (this depends on the race length) You may even to do this as butterfly as you will quickly become anaerobic and this can often happen in race. Once you have gone out hard then try to settle into race pace and find a rhythm.

Go the WOW factor!

Work on weakness. We all love to go out and train feeling good and enjoying life and working on weaknesses can be hard work and not nearly as much fun however, working on areas that are letting you down on race day is an effective way to train and if you put enough time and effort into that area then you can reap the benefits big time!

Analyse your results, set a plan and go to work.

Consistency is the key:

Consistency is everything. Strength comes from consistency and the body loves it. Try not to get hooked on the quantity of the miles but rather the consistency of the miles.

Strength is the other key:

Efficiency, form, speed they all come from strength and the stronger you are the more efficient and faster you can become. Triathletes in general spend allot of time "dumping" on their legs and falling apart during the run. When they ride the bike, they spend the whole time pushing down on the pedals and dumping on the quads and on the run they sit down on the run and hammer their quads again. If you are not strong enough then your technique will. Most triathletes are not particularly strong in the core or the gluteus and hips and therefore they become technically poor during the back end of the run.

We need to work on physical strength and optimise your whole body strength. This way you will be supporting the contractions of the leg muscles and fatigue and poor technique is minimized. On a whole, your muscles will function better and you be able to maximise your performance throughout your race. For IM athletes, a strong back end of the run is the key to a solid race so your strength is crucial.

The strength phase of your programme will be early in the plan however some strength work can be maintained up to 4-8 weeks from race day. Some of the specific strength sessions you can do are: specific gym work, circuit, plyometrics, stair climbing / step-ups with weights, hill work, core stability sessions.

Change pace: 

We see many athletes who train like they race and race like they train. There are the plodders who do everything at one pace and the racers who do everything at their best pace. If you can find the balance in between somewhere you are the winner!

There are few important reasons why you need to understand your pace and also be able to change it: As mentioned earlier, you need to train (sometimes) to race pace so that come race day you are aware of your targets an you know they are realistic.

There are easy aerobic sets, long slow distance sets, Strength sets and speed sets and hey all nee to be done at a certain pace and the pace of each should be varied.

A change of pace is important for improving technique on the run. It is much easier and more realistic to work on your form throughout the run while you are running with some speed. Technique/drill sets where you will work on form such as running tall, activating and strengthen your core and gluteus and pushing the hips forward are better worked on with some pace. You are less likely to "dump" on your quads while running at a faster pace.

You are what you eat:

There are huge benefits to a healthy diet and all you have to do is a bit of planning and organization to get your diet working in your favour. You should be very aware that the level of exercise intensity influences nutritional needs AND the nutritional intake influences how well you train and more importantly recover.

Rehearse your nutrition and hydration for race day and the only way to do this is during race pace sessions such as brick or other intense sessions. The LSD run and bike sessions will not always be a good indication of how positively or negatively you will handle your nutrition and hydration.

If you are someone who suffers with food intake or drink intake, cramps, gastro etc you need to rehearse where you are having problems until you get it right. Example: If you exit the swim and find that for the first 40km on the bike you cant take an food on board then you may nee to look at what you are eating prior the that race and how much water you may be swallowing during the swim and then you need to work on a plan to prevent this happening and rehearse it.

Remember: you are what you eat!

Appreciate your support network:

This one is the most important so we have left it to last.
You are only as good as the people who support you. Take the time to appreciate your family, friends, squad, coach or who ever else is involved. Make sure that you have a life and that triathlon is not your whole life!

Balance will make you a better athlete.