If you are a very strong runner, cyclist or swimmer, it’s understandable if you throw all your training efforts into that one discipline. Your every focus is on lowering your PB or finishing higher in races. But you won’t be surprised to hear that I’d advise you to consider branching out into more than one discipline.
You may be apprehensive, thinking that diverting some of your training time into sports where you’re not as strong will adversely affect your core skill set. But by expanding to include other sports, whether it’s a duathlon or a triathlon, not only will you get more pleasure from training and racing, you’ll also get fitter, stronger and less prone to pick up niggling or recurring injuries. It’s not the case that you’ll end up a jack-of-all-trades: you master them all.
Take your time
I’m not going to sugar-coat this. Moving from one to two or more disciplines takes time and effort. Start by introducing the new discipline into your existing training programme. Instead of a run, go for an easy swim or ride, treating it as an active recovery session. Don’t jump straight into hard sessions of the new sport because your muscles need time to get accustomed to it. Going full-on too early will lead to disappointment in your performance and that could mean you lose motivation and go back to being a soloist.
There are so many great online resources. Just Google ‘triathlon training’ and you’ll find loads. Check out forums and websites, and YouTube has plenty of excellent technical videos on how you can iron out any kinks in your technique. Even something as simple as setting your bike up correctly can make a massive difference in performance. The same goes for your swimming stroke. Great technique is the difference between average and good times. You can even seek out professional help by seeing a coach. A cheaper option is to join a club that focuses on multi-discipline events. If you do that you’re likely to meet experienced racers, who can be just as useful a resource as a pro coach, especially when you’re just starting out.
Once you’re happy with your technique in the new discipline it’s time to start doing brick sessions, which is when you cycle then immediately run, or swim then jump straight on the bike. These sessions are designed to train your muscles to adapt quickly to the demands you put on them. The better you are at moving efficiently from one discipline to the other, the faster you can start performing near to your maximum capacity.
There’s no better way to get better than by entering a race. Not only will putting a race in your diary give you more motivation and focus in training, there’s also nothing to beat the feeling of standing on the start line of an event you’ve never done before. Well, I guess the feeling of finishing it is the only better thing! Don’t worry too much about getting a great time in your first race – you’re going to get a PB anyway. It’s far more important to enjoy it, then look back at it and reflect to figure out what you did right and what you need to work on.
Remember that success won’t come overnight so try to enjoy your transition to a multi-discipline athlete. Yes, you’re doing this to get fitter and faster but having fun still comes first.
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