The juggle (and real life struggle) of a working triathlete mum

Wow. It is hard to look back and believe how much my life, work and training has changed in the past 2.5years. Rewind to December 2016 (yes that seems AGES ago!) and I was standing on the podium of a Half Ironman. Then, just a few short months later I learnt I was expecting my first child. For someone who has always been very personally driven, fiercely independent, loved the flexibility to train as long as I liked, work as much as needed and sleep in whenever I chose to, I knew this was going to be a big adjustment. And adjustment it was! You can read about how I first managed this here.

Press the fast forward button and all of a sudden I have 2 children under two, I am now married (yes we managed to do this between #1 and #2), am also running my own coaching business, AND back into training myself. Phew, even I feel exhausted just writing that!

‘Ohhh 2 children under 2 – you will have your hands full!’ so many people would say to me when they found out about #2. And yep, they were right. But for me, it feels like just the right amount of full – you get very handy at wrangling a toddler in one arm, while carrying a newborn in the other. ūüėČ

BUT – what does ‘life’ REALLY look like? It’s easy to share a glimpse of it on social media – the cute pics and vids of kids doing gorgeous and hilarious things, the snapshots that we choose to share, but as we all know, social media only shows a very small portion of what our day to day lives REALLY look like. Not the nitty gritty, the juggling act, the broken sleep, the tag teaming, or the days of exhaustion but at the same time the sense of accomplishment. You soon learn where your best windows are for working, training, resting and sleeping, and get good at having patience in getting out the door, in taking each day as it comes, and knowing that your well laid out plans may just go out the window. But that you wouldn’t change it for the world. ūüôā

So this is what I wanted to share – more than just the snapshots and cute pictures,. Not to say ‘go me’, but more to say – go mums! I didn’t know many young triathlete mums before I was one myself, apart from a select few, it was like mums took a good 3-5years away from triathlon as they raised a young family, and it wasn’t until say kindergarten or school age that they thought about returning to the sport.

So now being a triathlete and a working mum myself, I have other mothers asking me how I fit everything in, how I manage to have the motivation to get up and train, to head out the door on less than optimal sleep. And even WHY?! Some people seem in awe, others look on questioning… But I wanted to share the journey to show that yeah – it is tough, and it does require a lot of juggling, but if you want it to work, you CAN make it work.

My first ride back:

My first ride back on the road post #2 (Edie) was certainly a mission to say the least. Long gone are the days of simply setting the alarm and waking when it goes off, it now requires military precision. As they say ‘where there’s a will there’s a way!‘ Soooo. To get myself out the door for my first road ride 2 months post-partum, this is what it took:

10pm last night feed + express extra milk for the morning ūü•õ¬†
10:40pm in bed asleep
3.30am bubs wakes for a feed
4.15am back into bed
5.30am alarm goes off, get myself dressed/ready
5.45am express extra milk for hubby
6.15am wake up bubs for a quick feed 
6.30am bike in the car and drive to meet others
6.55am finally on the bike! ūüėĀūüôĆūüŹĽ (and it rained on us mind you, but I did not care one bit!)

So despite having broken sleep, despite having to get up in the middle of the night to feed, despite the logistics of having to express – all this just to get out on the road, I still view this as totally worth it! And worth it is was! Especially after being ‘confined’ to an indoor trainer for the past ~6months leading into her birth and recovering post.

SO – if you feel it’s worth it, then know that it IS possible. It may not be easy, and you may spend more time prepping than actually training, but if you have a goal, if it’s something you really want to do – for you! then do it – only you can put a value on what it means to you. What kept me going in the early days was reminding myself that it won’t always be like this, it won’t always be so time consuming. And it’s not. It does get easier.

As bubs grows and settle into their routines, you will claw back some of your time (and sleep!) and heading out the door wont feel like as much as a mission as it is in the beginning – you get better at the juggling act!

What my work / life / family dynamic looks like

What ones family dynamics looks like plays a BIG part in how you will manage your work, training (and sanity!) ūüėČ And keep in mind that everyone’s child/children are different. And each individual child of yours may also be different too. I can already see differences in my little ones already. They both have similar relaxed natures, my eldest inquisitive, yet slightly cautious, adventurous, but mostly knows his boundaries, he doesn’t like things out of place, has little patience, but at the same time is a determined little soul with the biggest sweetest and kindest heart and LOVES being outdoors. My youngest is already showing signs of being chilled and observant, patient and relaxed, and luckily for me (us) they were (are) both very good sleepers from the onset. Once they grew past the ‘newborn’ stage ~around 4mths, they learnt to (mostly) sleep through the night. So apart from developmental stages/ages where everything (literally!) goes out the window, I honestly couldn’t ask for better little people to fill our spaces. ūüôā

BUT – if this is not you, know I hear you and I feel you. I know what sleep deprivation looks and feels like – we all go through it in the early stages, BUT turning that into months (and for some years!) is tough for anyone to manage and work around, so know your means and know your boundaries based on your own circumstances. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you / your bubs and your family are just not quite there yet.

Everyone’s personal situations will also be different. In our household, hubby works full time, I work part time from home and at the same time we are also both athletes training for our own individual sports and our own individual goals. I have my youngest Edie at home with me full time while working around her, and our little man Mills spends 2 days in day care and a day with his Pa. This gives me just enough relief to knuckle down with work while Edie is content or asleep.

But it is the training front that is actually the biggest juggle. Someone commented to me one day – ‘oh it must be easy being able to work from home and train when you want‘. Ummmm, no! (just a tip, never say to a working mum it must be easy, no matter the context – you will loose every time!) ūüėČ

Early in the piece when bubs are newborns they sleep. alot. But they also feed. alot. Each of you are finding your feet and what routine works for you and your fam. When they sleep, you want to rest, or do the washing, or prep dinner….. It’s not like you have instant or infinite time to smack out a training session. Far from it. How many times I have thought – awesome, I’ve got an hour window to jump on the trainer while she’s asleep – and 15min into the session she wakes! But instead of getting frustrated, you just work around it. Sometimes your little ones need you more than other times. Just like work sometimes needs or asks more of you and you have to shift in that direction. I see motherhood as the same. It is and will be forever evolving, and will additionally change if you have outside help, if you are breast feeding, if you are working… there are so many variables.

So I just wanted to share that insight so you got a bit of a gauge of what our family dynamics looked like first – as mothers we are the first to compare ourselves to others. I didn’t write this for others to compare to, or to feel they have to strive for, but simply to document and share while hopefully allowing other (tri) athlete mums know that it is possible to raise a young family, to be a working mum while also training for triathlons (or what ever sport / activity / fitness you choose!) That yes – it is possible to put yourself first during times of the day / week and that you don’t have to feel guilty about that at all.

My working / training week

It’s certainly not perfect, and some days I can train more than others, and others I don’t get in what I had planned, but as a whole, we seem to have a pretty good balance and understanding of each others needs and what it takes to get everything done, while maintaining a happy family life. ūüôā

A few people have asked whether I’m following a program. Apart from squad swimming where I have been joining Jamie Edwards and his crew from JET Coaching, no. I’m not following a program, and I train mainly solo. I have an idea in my head of what I want to achieve in a particular session / certain week, but I am flexible with it. This could mean that I may have a hill rep run planned but if my body is asking for a longer slower endurance run, then I’ll give it that. But I follow my own general coaching principles, methods and planning in my training. I’ve also been using myself as a bit of a guinea pig. I’ll test out a particular swim, bike and/or run set to see what it feels like, and use it with some of my athletes that I feel it can work for. So if you follow me on strava…. ūüėČ


6 months post partum now, and for the last couple of months, this is what my ‘regular’ week can look like:

Monday’s and Wednesday mornings are my swim mornings – so swimming twice a week. These are probably the biggest challenges to get to at the moment. It means an early wake up to feed little miss, before I then get changed and head out the door to swim squad. Get on pool deck and do some mobility and activation work, before jumping in and then getting out to rush home to swap with hubby so he can get ready to head to work.
Should I be including an extra swim in- sure, I should/could/would, but right now, I find the balance of 2 swims enough, especially when sometimes two swims turns into only 1 swim for what ever reason. So two swims it is, and I’m just being realistic about my race goals around the swim based on how my swim progresses around this. But at the moment, after a few months back in the pool I’m just starting to feel swim fit again. Whoop!

Monday’s I will also try to include a strength and conditioning set at home during the day – mainly focused around functional movement, core stability etc, not heavy lifting, along with a walk to get the kids outside. And Wednesdays I attend a clinical pilates session after swimming. This has been fantastic returning post birth, but also a great way to learn how your body moves, it’s imbalances and working on correcting these. I highly recommend if you can fit into your training / week ! (Note this is FAR different to your standard group pilates classes)

Tuesdays have generally been brick days for me, a good way to get bang for your buck. Generally this will be in the afternoon when little miss is (hopefully) sleeping and I’ll time it for when hubby gets home to run off the bike OR I’ll run with her and the pram. ūüôā So a high intensity or strength based bike session, into an easy run off the bike. I might also include another short easy run first thing in the morning when hubby gets home from his ride and before he has to then head to work – if time / our schedules allow.

Thursdays for me have now moved into a double run day to up my run volume, but will shift back to a brick session day or separate bike and run sessions as the triathlon season comes closer. For me, I don’t run well in the mornings, I wake up stiff through my back so I find doing any quality of running in the morning tough. (Plus the winter mojo to run in the AM is severely lacking!) ūüėČ So instead, for these days I do an easy run loosener in the morning after hubby gets back from his morning ride, just running to feel, and then in the evening throwing in some quality such as hill strength/repeats or fartlek type session. (note this is generally my ONLY evening session) I’m not doing any speed / high intensity work in my runs at the moment, the volume seems to be working well and paces just gradually increasing based on my fitness gains from these, so I’m happy with my run progress after a slow and sluggish first few months. Patience here was definitely key!

Fridays I reserve as a ‘free’ day, or day of choice. If I feel like doing nothing, I don’t. If I feel like an easy spin, or a long walk, or some additional strength, I’ll do that. But I find it’s been great having a totally open day to do whatever I feel or whatever the day brings. Not to mention a sleep in! ūüėČ

Weekends are where the juggle continues, with both myself and hubby working out plans on who’s riding when and where and with whom. It’s a compromise. And sucks if there is a day on the weekend when it’s terrible riding weather as it means one of us is spending time on the trainer! Given I do trainer work during the week, by the weekend I’m hanging to get on the road, so I can’t wait for more warmer and lighter days to come! So Saturdays I have generally been doing my long ride, and Sunday afternoons my long run. Long rides around ~2.5-3.5hours with slowly building run volume off the bike, and long runs now getting up around 1:15min. And each week just gradually building on the last and pulling back when I need the recovery.

When I’m training, I ensure I’m fully present. I’m focused, determined and driven to do that little bit better than last week. As you have now gathered, being a working triathlete and a mum, with a hubby who also trains, it really is a juggling act and you have to make the most of the time allowance you have. This often can mean he comes in from a session and I’m heading out for mine. A quick update on the kids as we pass each other. Some may wonder why we would choose to do this rather than just spending all our time with our little ones while they are so young, and all I can say is that we do it because we love it. It not only makes us feel good staying healthy and having goals to chase, we don’t think having kids should stop that. PLUS we can already see the influence this has on our eldest. He jumps on his bike inside all the time, he shows how he cleans it, will want to put his helmet on, even wants to put his water bottle on his bike – just to be like mum and dad. He hops on the floor and tries to do push ups, he ‘play’s with my roller, does squats and simply just loves being active with us. Children observe and learn so much, and without even teaching him, he’s understanding that being active is simply a part of life. And that there, makes my heart sing to know and see that – so why wouldn’t we want to train and chase after our our own goals?! Knowing that those traits are being learnt by the little people around us… ūüôā

Things I have learnt being a working triathlete mum:

  1. Respect & appreciate your body,
    You are not just relying on your body for your sport, your baby/ child/ children/ family is also relying on you. So if ever there was a time to listen to your body, and do whats right for you and your family – then its now. Don’t ignore any signs.
  2. Being healthy is paramount,
    Above all else, it is imperative to stay strong and healthy. I don’t believe any goal should override this and especially not when you are supporting a young bubs. So don’t cut corners on your health.
  3. Consult / work with a professional,
    Make sure you get the all clear from a womens health professional/specialist. Even though you may want to get back running asap, sometimes it may be advised against it based on your personal recovery. So listen to the professionals. They are there for you, so if it means walking for another couple of weeks. Then do it – there is plenty of time to get back to running! ūüôā
  4. Communication is king
    You need to have good communication. With your partner, with your coach / support team, with family… Whoever is on your ‘team’. Communicate frequently and communicate well.
  5. Start sloooowwwwllly,
    Slower than you thought was even possible. And above all else, listen to the advice from professionals.
  6. Have patience,
    For me it was 3 months of what felt like slow, heavy, awkward running before I even felt like I was running and not just plodding along. It took 3 months back in the pool after 2 years out of it to actually start to ‘feel’ the water again. It’s about having the patience to stick at it even though it’s hard and having the persistence (read stubbornness) to want to improve and be better than you were yesterday.
  7. Sleep is key – get it when you can,
    I feel very blessed. Both children learnt to sleep through the night quite early on. So from around 4mths they mostly slept through, this makes a MASSIVE difference. So if you have children that need you more at night time, keep in mind how this can impact your recovery and how your next sessions may feel. And if it means having a nap – or even just a lie down, during the day, then take it. You don’t have to be on the go all day every day. Give yourself permission to rest and recuperate – netflix is great for this just saying! ūüėČ
  8. Don’t underestimate the toll breastfeeding takes on your body. Fuel for your bubs but also fuel for your training. And if you are unsure, seek further guidance. It can be a balancing act – especially around breastfeeding.
  9. You CAN find a way to make it happen,
    If you want to do something, or have a goal that means something to you, then you will find a way to make it happen. I won’t say it will be easy, because its not, but there can always be a way. You just have to be willing.
  10. Just as with anything in life, you learn,
    You learn to be able to carry two squirming children at once. You learn how much is too much. You learn what your body is telling you…. And you will be forever learning – and I actually love that. ūüôā So don’t be so stuck and rigid (in your often old ways) that you loose the ability to learn.
  11. Don’t feel you have to be super(hu)mum!
    There’s the saying – you can do anything, but not everything. And this is so true! If the washing has to pile up for a couple of days, then so be it. If you have to get take out one night because you didn’t have time to go to the grocery store, it’s not the end of the world! You don’t have to be on top of everything all of the time. And that’s ok!
  12. Online shopping will be your savour!
    Speaking of grocery shopping, I can’t believe I never shopped online before children. What a time saver! If you don’t already, I highly recommend you start. I now shop for my ‘staples’ online, and then just walk to our local grocer / butcher / fish monger for fresh food with the kids in tow once a week. SO much easier! Plus I find saves money by planning ahead and not getting sucked into any unnecessary purchases.
  13. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
    If you have to miss a session because you are too tired as bubs was up more than normal the previous night, then do it, but don’t feel guilty about it. If you need to cut a session short as it’s all you had time for, then by all means cut it and again, don’t feel guilty.
  14. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself,
    Set a goal, but be flexible with it. Check in every couple of months to see how you are doing / progressing. Change things up if needed. But at the same time, know that you don’t have to be 100% fit or 100% ‘ready’ for a race to be able to do one. View your first race back as your first ever race! The excitement of simply being back out racing, no pressure and simply picture that finishing line with your little one waiting there for you, that will be your biggest achievement, not the time on the clock. ūüôā
  15. Be flexible,
    Some days / weeks you will feel like you are nailing it all, and others you will feel like you are just keeping your head above water. During these times you need to be flexible. Drop or switch out a session if you need to catch back up on sleep or simply to reset at home. We have a lot more variables in our lives now, that you need to be flexible, otherwise you will get to a point and you will feel like you are failing and not doing anything well.
  16. Don’t compare yourself to ‘pre-baby/ies’
    It can be easy to look back and think ‘I used to be able to do this’ or ‘I used to look like this’… but it serves no purpose. All you want to do is compare yourself today from yesterday. Not 3 years ago. Your life is vastly different now. There’s a new line in the sand. You have permission to set a new bench mark. Of course have goals, but know they don’t have to be compared to ‘before’ children.
  17. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
    As women – this can often be the hardest thing to do. And I find myself guilty of it too. We feel like we ‘should’ be able to do it all. And if we can’t we are failing (there’s that word again!) So reach out. You will be surprised how many people are willing to help if you just ask. And if someone asks – say yes!
  18. I never said it would be easy….
    It WILL be tough at times. There will be times you will feel like crying. There will be times you feel your partner doesn’t understand. There will be times when you feel in over your head. And that’s ok. Humans are emotional beings and feelings are what makes us human. So feel the emotions, acknowledge them, and then work with those around you to keep moving forward.

It’s a juggle – and at times often a struggle, I can’t deny that. Made even more challenging when your hubby is an athlete too, which means competing for training times and juggling these around children, work, daycare drop off and pick ups, feeding times, sleeping times and not to forget adult time!

But when my eldest yells with glee ‘mummy’s riding her bike!’, and waves with a big smile on his face as I head out the door, it truly melts my heart. It reminds me I’m not just doing this for me. But I’m doing this for them. Showing our two little ones that exercise is fun, and in our household, it is a part of who we are and what we do and with that, I can sleep well at night knowing that the example we are setting for the two most important humans in our lives is one we can be proud of. ūüôā

Sarah xx

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Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Sarah qualified for the Ironman World Champs in her first Ironman attempt at Ironman Melbourne 2013 (also achieving a podium place in the same race), going on to compete in Kona that same year. Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.



Fire up your training

You‚Äôve been training for a few years now,¬†results¬†happened¬†quickly,¬†improvements kept coming,¬†you felt¬†unstoppable, riding the high of your triathlon successes.¬†But¬†as quickly as the results came, you suddenly¬†feel like your improvements are slowly withering away and your shot at another PB seems like¬†a distant memory. You¬†keep training¬†but¬†your body¬†just doesn’t¬†seem to¬†respond like it used to. Paces seem to be faltering, or even slowing down, energy and motivation¬†wavering, race results¬†diminishing.¬†Does¬†this¬†sound¬†like you? Good news is ‚Ästyou¬†are¬†not¬†alone.¬†Most¬†athletes hit¬†a¬†plateau at some point in their training. We often see it in athletes after 2-3 years in the sport, but it can happen at any time.¬†So¬†with¬†some understanding, practical tips and know how ‚Äď you can smash¬†through¬†the plateau and be back on your way to your next PB in no time.¬†¬†

What is a training plateau? 
Firstly, to understand why you have hit a training plateau, we must understand what it is.  When you put your body under physical exertion or physical stress (training), it creates a multitude of physiological responses at a cellular level in your body. Once the body is stimulated by the stress (training) it then goes through a process of adaption to meet the demands of the stress. As adaption occurs, the body is then better equipped (adapted) to handle the training load and it therefore becomes easier (ie you become faster / stronger / more efficient).  

Training increases must then be applied to elicit further physiological responses in the body and to continue improvement. This can be done in a number or combination of ways including increases in frequency, duration and/or intensity. If not, or if you don’t allow the adaption process to occur (through over training or under recovering) then your body will undoubtably hit the dreaded training wall plateau.  

Hitting a training wall or plateau is a frustrating part of training¬†that most athletes will¬†unfortunately¬†experience at some point. The key is¬†recognising¬†it¬†and making changes so¬†you¬†don’t¬†find yourself¬†stuck there and¬†treading water¬†for too long.¬†So¬†if you are consistent with your training, but have stopped seeing the¬†results,¬†try¬†these¬†practical¬†and effective tips and training methods¬†to smash your way through that training wall plateau¬†and reap some serious results (and PB‚Äôs!) as a result.¬†¬†

1.¬†Don’t just train more
I put this first, as it’s often the ‘go to’ for athletes if they find themselves in a plateau. This can¬†often¬†be the worst thing you can do,¬†especially¬†if you have hit that wall due¬†to over training or¬†under recovering in the first place.¬†Overtraining generally leads to fatigue, injury and/or¬†underperforming, all that¬†go hand in¬†hand¬†with hitting a plateau.¬†So¬†if you find yourself in this situation, don’t immediately just train more.¬†Yes¬†it’s important to be disciplined and consistent with your training, but it’s also crucial that you pay attention and listen to your body.¬†If you have been training¬†consistently, then look at other signs and reasons as to why you have found yourself in a¬†plateau (read on).¬†More training doesn’t necessarily equate to better results.¬†¬†

2. Get the balance right
How much you train, and the type of training you do over time, along with the amount of recovery and/or the recovery methods¬†you¬†employ will all help ensure¬†your training¬†keeps¬†progressing. A¬†well-developed¬†training plan/program will incorporate frequency, intensity and duration to elicit a specific physiological response¬†at specific times in your training.¬†Training increases are needed¬†for a¬†progressive overload¬†but it is¬†the amount of overload applied to the body¬†that¬†is the key. Too much and you risk injury, illness and over training, not enough and you won’t get the physical response to improve.¬†To¬†continue to¬†see improvements, your training plan must stimulate the body at the¬†new fitness level. Adaption then takes place again¬†(the plateau)¬†and¬†so¬†the¬†process¬†then¬†continues. If you get to a point where you aren’t coming out of your plateau, then review the frequency, intensity and duration of your sessions to ensure a continued improvement.¬†Sometimes it¬†can mean¬†not¬†quite having the balance right or at the right times that sees you landing in a plateau for longer than planned.

3. Mix it up
One of the reasons¬†you¬†may have hit a plateau is¬†because¬†you are stuck in the same training routine.¬†That training routine may have worked well in the past, but it doesn’t¬†mean it is right for you now. Our bodies are very smart and extremely good at adapting to outside stress, so if you don’t mix things up, it can not¬†only¬†affect¬†your results, but it can also affect your motivation¬†too.¬†So¬†make sure you mix¬†things¬†up every now and then. It doesn’t¬†have to be¬†drastic, but¬†just by¬†changing up a block or period in our training such as¬†backing off your running and bumping up your riding can freshen up your run and boost your ride at the same time.¬†Or¬†if you are always prescribed an aerobic, high volume training¬†program, try adding some more intensity into your training. You may even want¬†to¬†try and¬†flip things around, start your build with some intensity, and then move back to aerobic and strength. Remember there is always more than one way to¬†achieve results.¬†So¬†don’t get stuck in your ways. Change it up and¬†then¬†monitor your results¬†to¬†ensure you are getting back on track.

4. Embrace recovery
If you are one of those athletes that fears taking a day off training, you are actually more susceptible to hitting the dreaded training wall plateau.
A body¬†grows and becomes stronger¬†and¬†faster AFTER it has adapted to¬†a training¬†stimuli.¬†So¬†the amount of rest and recovery you give your body is just as important as the training itself. Without sufficient recovery, over time your body won’t be able to¬†absorb the training load and make the¬†adaptations¬†to increase performance.
Think of this¬†process¬†like climbing¬†a¬†staircase. You can’t keep climbing¬†at the same rate and the same intensity forever. At some point you will need to stop and rest so you can¬†recharge and¬†keep going.¬†That’s what recovery days / sessions allow.¬†A chance¬†for your body¬†to recharge so you can then hit¬†your next sessions¬†stronger.¬†¬†So¬†if you are constantly fatigued, sore, or not hitting¬†your¬†target times or efforts in training,¬†there’s a good chance that you are simply not giving¬†your¬†body sufficient rest and recovery.¬†So¬†listen to your body and back it off a little if you need.¬†Try taking a day or two off to regain both your physical and mental strength.¬†You may just¬†be surprised with how taking¬†just¬†a few days off can actually help not hinder your training and performance.¬†So¬†don’t¬†fear recovery sessions or days. Embrace them.

5. Go hard on hard days, easy on easy days
Far too many athletes spend time in the ‘grey’ zone. Sitting in that middle ground of training. I understand it, it feels like you’ve had a good work out, but still got some left in the tank, it’s not¬†super¬†hard, but not easy¬†either.¬†But there lies¬†the problem.¬†Each type of session has a purpose¬†at specific times in¬†your training build. If you are always training in that ‘grey’ zone, you will miss the benefits of building a sounds aerobic base and therefore stunt your maximum aerobic¬†function¬†(your engine!),¬†and at the other end, you will never hit hard sessions hard enough to¬†effectively¬†improve your¬†VO2Max¬†‚Äď which is what every athlete should be¬†aiming for.¬†Plus¬†another down-side ‚Äď you are at an increased risk of¬†over training and/or under recovering.¬†¬†So¬†know and have a purpose for every session you¬†do. If the purpose is aerobic base development, train in that zone, if it’s technique, go slow and focus, if it’s VO2max¬†or speed, go hard¬†and fast.¬†Save the tempo and¬†threshold¬†training for race specific sessions when they are needed, and they certainly aren’t needed¬†in¬†every¬†session.

6. Include specific training blocks
Many athletes get stuck into the ‘3 swims, 3 rides, 3 runs’¬†routine and then find themselves stagnating in one or more of the 3 disciplines. To give your training¬†a little¬†boost,¬†while still balancing your time and recovery,¬†look at including a¬†block¬†of training which focuses on one or two¬†disciplines¬†for a specific period of time, not all three. As an example:
Plan a 6 week ‘swim’ block if you have found you aren’t making progress in your swim. You might still train 9 times a week, but the ratio may be 5 swims, 2 runs, 2 rides. Similar plans can be done for¬†the¬†bike and run.

7. Add a training spike 
If you feel like you train specifically,¬†you tried the recovery,¬†have¬†a good balance but still feel like you are in a rut, the next step might be a training spike. A training spike can often come in the form of a training camp. Training camps provide a training spike through a condensed training overload over a specific period of time ‚Äď generally from 3-5days. Your aim is to¬†overload your¬†training during that specific period, then allow¬†sufficient recovery¬†and you¬†should see the benefits a few weeks¬†later.¬†You can¬†choose to attend a specific training camp, or you can¬†simulate¬†your own at home. As an example, you might normally swim 3km on a Friday morning,¬†ride 3hours in the hills on a¬†Saturday and¬†run 1hour on¬†Sunday. A training spike over the same¬†3 day¬†period may look like the following*:

Friday AM: 3km aerobic strength based pool swim
Friday PM: 45-60min easy technique focused aerobic run
Saturday AM: 4hour aerobic strength based hills ride
Saturday LUNCH: 2km easy recovery pool swim
Saturday PM: 60-90min aerobic strength based run
SUNDAY AM: 3hour flat aerobic ride
Sunday LUNCH: 45min easy technique focused run

*Keep in mind that¬†everyone’s¬†training load and demand¬†is¬†different. Depending on the time of the year and phase in your training program, your training spike might focus on increased¬†frequency,¬†duration, intensity or a combination¬†of all three. It should also have a particular focus based on where you are at in your training¬†such as aerobic strength¬†base¬†or¬†race specific phase.

8. Plan a bi-annual /annual recovery phase
A sound training plan will build you up over time, aiming to peak you for your specific¬†key¬†race/s, then include a recovery or transition period where¬†you¬†enjoy some recovery and down time.¬†Too many athletes are frightened of having time off after a key race for fear of¬†loosing¬†the fitness they worked so hard¬†for.¬†Yes ‚Äď you will¬†see some decline in¬†fitness after a week or so, but it is necessary. If you don’t,¬†you actually run the risk of¬†under recovering.¬†The key though¬†is not stopping fully. In general, aim to move your body for fun, enjoyment and exercise ‚Äď rather than viewing it as training. Try something new, jump on a mountain bike, sign up to a yoga class, go on a¬†hike… the list is endless.¬†The movement and exercise¬†will help maintain some fitness while fast tracking your recovery.¬†Our bodies can’t be at their peak¬†year round, so take some time off after a key race to refresh physically and just as importantly mentally, and you will come back even stronger for your next race¬†or season.¬†¬†

9. Seek out a coach
When you started out in the sport, you may have¬†been training yourself,¬†joining¬†in¬†on¬†group sessions¬†or even following a template training plan. But as you progress, your training needs to progress¬†too.¬†So¬†if you are serious about¬†improving,¬†it may¬†be¬†time¬†to seek¬†additional guidance through a¬†Coach. A Coach¬†can provide¬†a¬†training program¬†that¬†is¬†periodised, with¬†specific training blocks¬†and cycles to help you get¬†the most out of your training, and also¬†leap you¬†out of¬†that¬†plateau.¬†Do¬†some¬†research¬†on Coaches¬†that¬†provide¬†individualised¬†training programs¬†designed¬†for you. It will cost you a little¬†more, but¬†don’t¬†underestimate the value a¬†personalised¬†coach¬†who¬†can add to your training and progression as an athlete.¬†

Although there can be a number of reasons for a training plateau, most of the time you can come out the other side with just a few small changes to your training, recovery or lifestyle to get you are back on your way. So instead of getting stuck behind the training plateau wall, listen to your body and make some changes to ensure you are back on your way to your next PB in no time!  

 

Written by Coach Sarah, as previously published in Australian Triathlete Magazine

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~
Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.

 

 

Building your winter base

How to make the most of your triathlon winter season training

Building a solid base for endurance is the key to having a strong racing season, no matter the distance you are training for. Short Course athletes require a solid base so their bodies can adapt and grow and handle the intensities that will come later in their training program. Long Course athletes require a strong aerobic base to build the engine that will carry them through their training volume and more importantly, race day. A solid base also helps you become a robust athlete, which in return helps prevent injuries, illness, inconsistency and athlete burn out.

Most athletes know that building and having a strong base is a fundamental foundation to develop on as they progress through the triathlon season. But as much as most athletes know this, they may not necessary understand why it is so important and how it can help them through their racing season.

Picture this: You trained your butt off during the off season, worked hard in every training session; you had a slight injury, but nothing that you couldn‚Äôt overcome in a few weeks. You had a few sniffles over winter (but who doesn‚Äôt right?), but ultimately you feel you are in the best shape yet as you head into the racing season. You jump straight into racing, all cylinders firing, you have a great first half of the year but then slowly you start to fade. The injury niggle pops up again, energy levels start to fade, each week it becomes harder to find motivation and each race feels harder to maintain the intensity. Slowly but gradually you start to fade until it comes to the last couple of races of the season and there‚Äôs not much left in the tank. You don‚Äôt even know how you got to that point, but you cannot wait until the end of the season so you can rest and recover. And then it hits you. You literally stop. Your body stops. Everything stops. So you have a month (or two) off until you get to a point when you feel ‚Äėheavy‚Äô and ‚Äėunfit‚Äô and decide you better get back into training. So you jump head first into your training again, playing catch up to those who maintained some consistency during their break, and so the cycle begins again‚Ķ.

This scenario is one that we see often. Athletes going too hard at the start of their base build, believing more training and more intensity will get ‚Äėbetter‚Äô results. They try and keep up with others, while they lose sight of what their own goals are and they neglect that important base building phase.

Here are some of my key points on ensuring you develop a strong base to not only propel you into this coming triathlon season, but ensure you finish the season off just as strongly.

Start off fresh
A strong and robust base starts with solid rest. Every athlete needs a break from the racing season and structured training so they can repair and recharge. Ensure you have taken the time to have a few weeks off from structured training after your season/last event to rest. Use this time to do some cross training, go for a ride with friends you wouldn‚Äôt normally train with, throw a basketball around, kick the footy, and simply catch up on ‚Äėlife‚Äô. When you feel like you have had a good mental and physical rest from structured training (this timeframe can differ for each athlete), then start building structure back in a few days a week until you are ready for a fully structured program. The key is backing off enough to recover, but not so much that you completely lose fitness. So keep the body moving while it still rests.

Build back into training gradually
Sounds simple right? Yet it is often hard for athletes to grasp this concept. Building gradually into your training allows for your body to adapt to the stressors training (of any level/duration/intensity) places on the body. Base building provides a platform for building up training at a slow and safe rate, which helps decrease the likelihood of injury and burnout. Building up gradually following a carefully structured plan will ensure your body adapts, while also focusing on key fundamental including general strength, technique and form which are essential during the base training phase.

Low intensity / Aerobic Training
The building block of base training is low intensity aerobic training. Despite all the studies and despite the information now available to athletes, far too many athletes still train in the ‚Äėgrey‚Äô zone. They spend too much time with their heart rate too high to develop their aerobic system (crucial for endurance) but then on the flip side, not hard enough to illicit improvement in their Vo2Max or speed. So they effectively waste a lot of their time training somewhere in between. Low intensity / Aerobic training doesn‚Äôt mean simply swim, ride and run slowly with no purpose or no effort. This type of training develops your aerobic capacity through building more capillaries to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. Your mitochondria (the parts of your cells that produce energy) also multiply and enlarge. And you churn out more enzymes that help turn stored fuel (ie fat) into energy. The result: over time, you will be able to train faster for longer. A great way to test this improvement is not through a time trial, but through a MAF HR test. (You can look this one up on how to conduct this test). If you are developing a sound aerobic base results might be something like:
20min run at 5km pace, ave HR 160. 6 weeks later, the same 20min run at 5km pace with an ave HR of 152. This is 8beats per minute (bpm) lower than 6 weeks ago. The athlete hasn‚Äôt needed to run any faster (although they could if they wanted), but they have become more efficient at the same pace. These types of results are what we are after in a base building phase ‚Äď you want to develop a more efficient engine that is strong and ready to fire when the next phase of the program kicks in.

Consistency
If you have a coach, you would have most definitely have heard this one before. Consistency is key. The ability to string together multiple weeks and months of consistent training brings about far better (and more consistent) results at races during a season. If we compare an athlete who goes extremely hard for one or two weeks/months, but then has to have days or weeks of easier training as they recover from the hard training, then they are not building a consistently strong base. Athletes who go too hard too early are also more susceptible to illness and injury over winter, which again in turn results in inconsistent training.

In the winter season. The easier the better. The hard training will come. So keep reminding yourself that. Those athletes who have taken the time to build their base consistently over winter will be the athletes that will get the most consistent results for the season.

Remember to rest
Just because base training doesn’t include large amounts of intensity, keep in mind that rest is still an important aspect of training during this phase. It is during the rest and recovery portion of your training that the body repairs itself, adapts and becomes stronger. So ensure your base aerobic training still factors in easier days or rest days to allow your body to adapt and come back from each session/week stronger than before. This is where a well-structured training program comes into play to gain the best results from your hard work during training.
Fuel smartly (and healthily!)
So many athletes say they train so they can eat what they like. Well I’m afraid you can’t if you want to be healthy on the inside and out, recover quicker and perform at your optimum. The base building phase is one of the less intensive phases of a training program, so it’s the perfect time to develop sound, nutritional habits and you will find you might actually lose a few kg’s (not put them on which is what most athletes tend to do over winter!). During longer, lower-intensity training, the body is able to pull energy from fat stores rather than from glycogen, where higher intensity training sessions gets their fuel from. Therefore, base training can be the perfect time to become leaner and a more efficient fat burner. So ditch the packaged foods and gels over winter and fuel with real wholesome food.

Give it time
There is no magic number for how long a base-building phase should last. This is very individual for each athlete and can depend on training history, lead in time to the season/key race and more. But generally you will see this phase last from 6-12 weeks. If you have a heart-rate monitor and/or power meter you can measure more closely on when you have built up a strong base and ready to move into the next training phase.

On the bike you can measure your efficiency factor by dividing your average power of a ride by the average heart rate. The actual figure doesn‚Äôt matter, what matters is that you are seeing an upward trend of this number. Once it starts to stabilise / plateau you are ready for your next training phase. This can also be monitored on the run through MAF HR tests, or intuition. Essentially your speed/pace should continue to improve for the same (or even less) effort and your runs/rides should feel easier. When you feel like you aren‚Äôt making continued progress (give this time) then you are most likely ready for a change up in your training. Again this is where working with a Coach who can develop a program specifically for you will see better results in the long run than following a template program or group training sessions ‚Äď unless you are really good at analysing numbers/data, reading your body and listening to your intuition.

Be patient
Don’t force or try and hurry your base training. Plan your season accordingly so you can have a strong base before you move into the next phase of your program. In saying this, there is nothing wrong with throwing in some short high intensity sessions. These won’t undermine your base training, but can improve some markers like Vo2Max while continuing to develop your base. But be patient. Build these in gradually so you don’t peak too early. You want to be at your peak for each of your key race/s, not just for the start of the season. And this all goes back to our initial discussion with your aim to finish off your season strong, not fizzling out before the season finishes.

So no matter what distance you plan to race this season, make sure you are starting off with a strong base before you build into the next phase of your training. This approach will safeguard you against injury, keep you healthy, help your race times come down and be a happier athlete in the process.

Written by Coach Sarah, as previously published in Australian Triathlete Magazine

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~
Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.

 

 

Triathlon 101

Breaking down the sport of triathlon and answering your most common questions

Triathlon can be a daunting sport. There is so much to learn, three sports to try and master, varying race distances, all the gear and what about the lingo?! So we surveyed a number of triathletes from beginners through to experienced athletes to answer the most common triathlon questions. Everything from what gear you need, what to wear, training tips and race day advice. There’s something to learn for everyone!

ALL THE GEAR:

What gear do I need to start?
Triathlon is known for being an expensive sport. There are three different disciplines that all need specific gear. It can be easy to get caught up in the hype and the marketing of the various equipment and gadgets, but honestly, most people can get started without having to re-mortgage their home!
Swim ‚Äď a basic pair of goggles, an old swim cap, and a pair of bathers
Bike ‚Äď any bike will do, borrow one if you like! Runners or bike/triathlon shoes, helmet and bike knicks and jersey.

Run ‚Äď a good pair of runners and anything to run in and you are set!

Once you get into the sport you can then look at upgrading your gear and purchase training tools such as pool toys, garmin/multisport watch, triathlon race gear… the list can then become endless.

What do I wear during a triathlon?
Good news is you can wear anything you feel comfortable in as long as your torso is covered. But if you head to a race, you will see most athletes wear a one or two piece tri suit. Essentially it‚Äôs a lycra based suit that is firm fitting. This is a triathletes outfit of choice as it helps avoid drag in the water, minimizes chafe on the bike and run plus ‚Äď it‚Äôs more aero than a baggy pair of shorts and t-shirt. There are lots of different brands / kits available and can range from $50 to $200+. Make sure you try before you by, as sizes and fitting can vary between brands.

What do I wear under my trisuit and my cycling kit?
For guys ‚Äď nothing! That‚Äôs right, no underwear necessary! So leave those briefs at home. For the ladies, as with the guys, no briefs needed (you read right!), and for your support up top, simply wear your normal running / sports bra. Some tri kits come with a built in sports bra ‚Äď but these aren‚Äôt designed for support, so you will want to wear something underneath.

Apart from aerobars, what else makes a tri-specific bike different from a road bike?
The key difference is the frame geometry. Typically a triathlon bike has a shorter top tube and the seat tube/post is closer to vertical than a road bike. These angles bring you forward on the bike, place your hips over the cranks and therefore in a more aero position increasing efficiency while opening up your hip angle to make it easier to run off the bike.

photo credit: witsup.com

Do I need a wetsuit?
Depending on where you race and the climate, you generally don’t NEED a wetsuit, but you will probably want one. The main benefit of a wetsuit for racing is to increase buoyancy, which will make you faster in the water. (And who doesn’t want to swim faster!) The other benefits including keeping you warm, and can also make you feel secure in the open water. Wetsuits can range from around $200 and go right up to $1000+, depending on your level and your budget, aim for one somewhere in the middle. But the key is making sure you get the right fit, so don’t buy your first wetsuit online, go in store and get professionally fitted.

What’s the difference between triathlon shoes and road cycling shoes?
The main difference is triathlon bike shoes have one Velcro strap (sometimes two), whereas road cycling shoes can have three straps, buckles or ratchets. So triathlon shoes are far easier to slide on and off in and out of transition, making you faster. So if you are looking at purchasing your first pair of bike shoes and plan to continue in triathlon, I suggest buying a triathlon specific bike shoe first. You can always buy a road cycling pair specifically for training/long rides later on if the funds allow.
What is a power meter and do I need one?
A power meter is a device fitted to a bike that measures the power output (watts) of the rider. Rather than just monitoring your work rate by heart rate, speed or perceived effort, power meters provide a quantitative way to assess how hard you are actually working so your bike session can become very specific.

Do you need one? This can depend on what you want to get out of your training. There are lots of benefits including being able to train more specifically, but you do need to be able to interpret the information (data) or have a coach who can, and it does come at a cost. Power meters can range anywhere from $500 up to $1500+. So before you part with your hard earned money do some research and understand whether the investment is right for you.

What is the difference between clincher and tubular tyres?
Clincher: The most common type of tyre which consists of an outer tyre and an inner tube fitted into the clincher wheel’s rim.

Tubulars (or tubs): Is a combination of a tire and tube in one. The tube is sewn inside the tyre casing and the tyre is fixed to a bike rim with special glue.
Tubeless: Are becoming more popular and is a style of tyre where no inner tube is required. The tyre sits directly on a special type of bike rim to create a tight seal and liquid sealant is used to create a strong seam between the tubeless tyre and the rim. Note you can use tubes in tubeless tyres but you CANNOT go tubeless with clinchers.

TRAINING

Is riding on the road similar to riding on a trainer?
Indoor sessions on the trainer can be very beneficial, in particular for those who are time poor, and during those cold, dark, wet winter months. Indoor trainers can allow you to follow a very specific session without having to worry about the elements or risks of riding on the road, and value for time, the indoor trainer wins hands down. A 60min indoor session can roughly equate to 80-90min of riding outside as you are constantly applying pressure to the pedals and there is no freewheeling or stopping for lights. A downside of riding indoors is you don’t get to use and practice your riding and bike handling skills, and some muscle groups become over worked and others underworked due to the static nature of indoor riding. So adding a mix of indoor and outdoor sessions into your program will provide you with the most benefit.

What is a negative split?
A common term used in running, but can be applied to swim and bike also, which involves completing the second half of a session / race faster than the first half. So you intentionally set out at a slightly slower initial pace and then increase your pace in the second half of the race ‚Äď effectively finishing stronger/faster. It is commonly used to ensure athletes don‚Äôt go out too hard too early in a race, and can be useful for those athletes who are not good at pacing themselves.

What is a brick session?
Brick sessions, also known as ‚Äėcombo‚Äô sessions traditionally involve the combination of bike and run in one session to help train you for the specifics of running off the bike on race day. Sessions can vary but can include repeated short bike/run sets ie 4 x 10min bike, 3min run ‚Äď great for those racing short course, or longer sets for those racing longer such as 2 x 30min bike, 10min run or a long trainer set or road ride followed by a run off the bike ‚Äď simulating race day conditions. Brick sessions are typically incorporated into a training program 8-12weeks out from race day.

Can I use the same goggles in the pool as open water?
Of course! But it is important to consider the function of different types of swimming goggles and why there are different types available.  Open water specific goggles are designed with a slightly larger lens providing better peripheral vision. Comfort should be considered also, as some pool/competition goggles may not be comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. Goggles also come with a variety of lens colours designed for different situations:

Clear lenses ‚Äď suited for overcast / low light days
Amber/yellow lenses – used for improved visibility in pools

Blue lenses – often used to maximise underwater visibility in the open water

Mirrored or dark lenses – used to reduce sun glare in open water swimming, and sometimes just for looks!

photo credit: witsup.com

What’s a catch-up drill?
A popular drill for triathletes, the catch up drill is a swim drill designed to help lengthen your swim stroke and develop your front end ‚Äėcatch‚Äô, as well as allowing swimmers to work on timing of their breath, good body rotation and steady kick. The drill is similar to your normal freestyle stroke action, just with one arm waits out front until the arm arm rotates through and ‚Äėcatches up‚Äô before the other arm starts to move. A variation and progression is ¬ĺ catch up where your fully extended hand begins the catch when the recovering arm is 3/4 of the way recovered, becoming closer to a natural freestyle stroke.

RACING

What are the different names and race distances in triathlons?
Whether you are aiming to go long, or striving to go fast (or both!) there are plenty of races and race distances to choose from. The below are standard race distances, but variations of these can be found depending on the race location, event organiser etc.
Ironman Distance:
8km swim / 180km bike / 42.2km run

Half Ironman: 1.9km swim / 90km bike /21.1km run

ITU Long Distance: 2km swim / 80km bike / 20km run
Olympic/Standard Distance:
1.5km swim / 40km bike / 10km run
Sprint Distance:
500-750m swim / 20km bike / 5km run
Mini/Fun/Enticer:
1-300m swim / 8-10km ride / 1-3km run
There are also other variations including:
Aquathon: Swim/run
Duathlon: Run/Ride/Run
Aquabike: Swim/Bike

Do I need a triathlon specific bike to race?
No! You can most certainly use any bike you have as long as it is road worthy and has brakes. As you start out in the sport there is nothing wrong with starting with the bike you already have and you can always upgrade later. As you spend more time in the sport you may introduce clip on areo bars and then look at a time trial bike down the track. But don’t sell your road bike, as these are used over the winter months for most of your training.

I’m afraid of the open water, how can I get more comfortable?
First determine the underlying root of what is causing your anxiety/fear of the open water. Are you afraid of no bottom to stand on or walls to hold onto? Is the distance of the event scaring you? Is it the unknowns in dark murky waters? Or swimming in close proximity to others that causes you to panic? Once you are able to understand your fear, you can work on overcoming it through gradual practice and repetition in training.
If you are nervous about swimming with other people, train with a group and get comfortable with being touched and bumped. Scared of not being able to make the distance? Gradually build up the distance in training until you can complete nonstop in the pool ‚Äď a good confidence booster! Anxious about no wall to rest on, no bottom to stand and no black line to follow? Practice in the pool by not touching/resting on the walls between laps. Also try closing your eyes while swimming under water and only open them to look up and sight. And make sure you practice in the open water. The more you swim in the open water, the more comfortable you will become with it. And remember it is ok to turn over onto your back, take a breather, catch your breath and calm the nerves. When you feel resettled, simply roll back over and continue.

What should I eat race morning?
This can depend on a lot of factors and can differ from athlete to athlete. Some athletes eat nothing before a race, some get up early and have a big breakfast, while others have something small just to take away the ‚Äėhunger‚Äô feeling. Remember your body has to digest whatever you put into your body before it can utilise it for fuel so if you fill it with a big breakfast the morning of your race, you can be left feeling sluggish and it can lead to stomach. ¬†If you fuelled correctly the days leading into your race, your glycogen stores should still be full from the night before, so you don‚Äôt have to eat a smorgasbord the morning of your race ‚Äď no matter the race distance. And remember – don‚Äôt try anything new on race day. Practice in training what you plan to do on race day so you can work out what works for you.

What should I eat during a race?
If racing for less than 1.5hours ‚Äď generally up to sprint distance, you will probably only need water and/or electrolytes. Anything longer than that and you will race better if you take in calories during the race. Again this is very individual, but as a general rule of thumb, aim for 40-50g of carbs per hour on the bike, and 30-40g of carbs per hour on the run. You can have a metabolic efficiency test done to calculate exactly what you burn and so therefore calculate with more certainly what is right for you and is worth doing for those racing longer distances. The majority of your calories should be consumed on the bike and for most people, liquid forms such as gels and/or carbohydrate drinks are the best as it can be harder to consume other forms such as bars while racing. But again, the amount you will need, the type of fuel and the flavours you choose are going to be trial and error, so testing in training is key. Write out a nutrition plan, test in your longer / race specific training sessions, keep note of how you feel based on what you consume and adjust accordingly.

What is bonking?
If you have ever experienced it, you know it‚Äôs not fun! Bonking (or hitting the wall) is a term used in endurance sports like triathlon, cycling and running where there is a sudden onset of fatigue and loss of energy which is brought about due to the depletion of muscle glycogen and/or blood glucose levels, along with muscle damage and fatigue. Essentially your body is going into ‚Äėself-preservation‚Äô mode. To continue, you will need to either slow down and/ or increase your carbohydrate intake. Good news is, you can train your body to become bonk proof through training and fuelling strategies, including becoming more fat adapted and more metabolic efficient.

Do I wear socks in a race?
Wearing socks in a race is a personal choice, so I’ll give you the pros and cons and things to consider and you can make the decision yourself.

  • Putting on socks takes time, so if you all for saving time, loose the socks!
  • Worried about blisters? Put Vaseline on rub points to stop friction
  • Socks will keep your feet warmer in cooler races, so consider the conditions.
  • Try no socks in shorter races and progress to longer races
  • Unsure whether no socks is for you? Practice in training and see!

It takes me forever to get out of my wetsuit, how do I get out of it quickly?
As you are running from the water to transition, start working on getting out of your wetsuit. While running, unzip your wetsuit and pull it down to your waist by the time you get to your transition area. Once at your bike, pull your wetsuit down so that it‚Äôs below your knees. Step out of one leg, and tread on the wetsuit to help pull the other leg out. You may need to use your hand to get over your ankle and off your foot. And a pro tip ‚Äď before putting on your wetsuit at the start of the race, place lubricant on your legs from the knees down and arms from elbows down. This will help the wetsuit slide off easier!

How do I stop my goggles fogging up?
Firstly ‚Äď to prevent them from fogging in the first place, avoid touching the lens with your fingers. All goggles come with an anti-fog film and touching them rubs this off with the oils of your skin. So if you have a new pair of goggles simply rinse with fresh water after swimming and pop back into a protective case to help them remain fog-free for as long as possible. However once they start to fog up, there are a few tips to prolong their life and allow you to see where you are going!
Spit ‚Äď although not very glamourous, spit into your goggles and gently rub on the inside of the lens
Baby shampoo ‚Äď leaves a tiny film on the lens to help prevent the fog

Commercial anti-fog ‚Äď there are a number of brands on the marker including spays and wipes.
Rinse ‚Äď if all else fails, simply rinse your face and your goggles with water before starting your swim, this will keep the fog at bay for a little while.

What cadence should I be riding on the bike?
Cadence can be affected by your physiology, bike set up, and race distance among other things. Larger athletes tend to be more efficient at a lower cadence ~70-80rpm using less oxygen for the same effort, whereas lighter riders often have more slow-twitch muscle fibres that are suited to faster spinning (90+rpm). So with this, lower cadence tends to stress the muscular system more, so more taxing on the muscles from a strength perspective, whereas higher cadence tends to stress the cardiovascular system, using more oxygen. Deciding what cadence is right for you can be trial and error ‚Äď not just on how it impacts your bike performance, but just as importantly how it impacts your run off the bike. So what ultimately matters is that you train yourself to be as efficient as possible on the bike at race pace intensity so you can get off and run well off the bike.

 

How do I know if I’m able to use my prescription medication while racing?
Any type of medication or supplements should always be checked with ASADA ‚Äď Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority. Their website provides plenty of information including a prohibited substance list for every sport, allows you to check your substances, apply for therapeutic use exemptions and provides learning and education for athletes. What you consume is your own responsibility so it is important you are educated in this area, and if unsure, always check. Including your supplements.

 

Sarah Grove
Triathlon Coach
Complete Per4mance Coaching

Written by Coach Sarah, as previously published in Australian Triathlete Magazine

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~
Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.

How to make the most of your winter season training

Don‚Äôt you just love this time of the year?‚ÄĮKey races are complete and you are all set for some time off structured training. Did someone say social life? Yes please!¬†

It’s the perfect time to reflect, review and reset. To look at what went right, what went wrong and what can be improved and what you would do differently.

It’s also the best time to start building a solid winter base. Base endurance is the key to having a strong racing season, no matter the distance you are training for.‚ÄĮ Short Course athletes require a solid base so their bodies can adapt and grow and handle the intensities that will come later in their training program. Long Course athletes require a strong aerobic base to build the engine that will carry them through their training volume and more importantly, race day. A solid base also helps you become a more robust athlete, which in return helps prevent injuries, illness, inconsistency and athlete burn out.

Build your best winter base yet! 

I’ve put together my 7 TOP TIPS to building your best winter base yet, ensuring you‚ÄĮmake‚ÄĮthe most of your winter season this year. Enabling you‚ÄĮto start next season stronger, hungrier and more robust than ever and propel you into your next triathlon season!¬†

Start‚ÄĮfresh

A strong and robust base starts with solid rest. Every athlete needs a break from the racing season and structured training so they can repair and recharge. Ensure you have taken the time to have a few weeks off from structured training after your season/last event to rest and reset. When you feel like you have had a good mental and physical rest from structured training (this time frame can differ for each athlete), then start building structure back in a few days a week until you are ready for a fully structured program. The key is backing off enough to recover, but not so much that you completely lose fitness. So keep the body moving while it still rests.

 

 

Build back into training gradually

Sounds simple right? Yet it is often hard for athletes to grasp this concept. Building gradually into your training allows for your body to adapt to the stressors training (of any level/duration/intensity) places on the body. Base building provides a platform for building up training at a slow and safe rate, which helps decrease the likelihood of injury and burnout. Building up gradually following a carefully structured plan will ensure your body adapts, while also focusing on key fundamentals including general strength, technique and form which are essential during the base training phase. 

Low intensity / Aerobic Training

‚ÄúWant speed? Slow down.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Dr Phil¬†Maffetone.¬†

And I couldn‚Äôt agree more! The building block of base training is low intensity aerobic training. Far too many athletes still train in the ‚Äėgrey‚Äô zone,‚ÄĮtraining with their heart rate too high to develop their aerobic system (crucial for endurance) but then on the flip side, not hard enough to illicit improvement in their Vo2Max or speed. Essentially you want to develop your aerobic capacity through low intensity / aerobic training so over time you will be able to train faster for longer.

To train your maximum aerobic function, I often ‚ÄĮuse the MAF Method‚ÄĮas‚ÄĮdeveloped by Dr Phil¬†Maffetone.‚ÄĮIn the winter/off season.¬†The easier the better.¬†The hard training will come. So keep reminding yourself that. Those athletes who have taken the time to build their base consistently over winter will be the athletes that will get the most consistent results for the season and are generally less prone to injury and burnout also.

Consistency

If you have a coach, you would have definitely have heard this one before. Consistency is¬†key. The ability to string together multiple weeks and months of consistent training brings about far better (and more consistent) results at races during a season. If we compare an athlete who goes extremely hard for one or two weeks/months, but then has to have days or weeks of easier training as they recover from the hard training, then they are not building a consistently strong base.‚ÄĮAthletes who go too hard too early are¬†also more susceptible to illness and injury over winter, which again in turn results in inconsistent training.¬†

Remember to rest

Just because base training doesn’t include large amounts of intensity, keep in mind that rest is still an important aspect of training during this phase. It is during the rest and recovery portion of your training that the body repairs itself, adapts and becomes stronger. So ensure your base aerobic training still factors in easier days or rest days to allow your body to adapt and come back from each session/week stronger than before. This is where a well-structured training program comes into play to gain the best results from your hard work during training. 

Fuel smart

So many athletes say they train so they can eat what they like. Well I’m afraid you can’t if you want to be healthy on the inside and out, recover quicker and perform at your optimum. The base building phase is one of the less intensive phases of a training program, so it’s the perfect time to develop sound, nutritional habits and you will find you might actually lose a few kg’s (not put them on which is what most athletes tend to do over winter!). During lower-intensity training, try some of these sessions fasted. This helps condition the body to draw energy from fat stores rather than rely on constant fuelling with carbohydrates. Base training can be the perfect time to become leaner and a more efficient fat burner. So ditch the packaged foods and gels over winter and fuel with real wholesome food.  

Add a ‚Äėspike‚Äô in your base training

There is no magic number for how long a base-building phase should last. This is very individual for each athlete and can depend on training history, lead in time to the season/key race/s etc, but generally you will see this phase last from 6-12 weeks. If you have a heart-rate monitor and/or power meter you can measure more closely on when you have built up a strong base and ready to move into the next training phase. Working with a Coach will‚ÄĮhelp you achieve this optimal phase in your program.‚ÄĮA great way to then‚ÄĮkick your base training to the next level is through a ‚Äėspike‚Äô in your training. This can be through a weekly challenge or blocks such as a swim/ride/run block (ie¬†increase mileage of one particular‚ÄĮdiscipline over a given period of time to add a ‚Äėspike‚Äô). Another great way is through training camps. Training camps are fantastic as they add a large spike in your training over a short period of time (generally 2-5 days).‚ÄĮTraining camps‚ÄĮoffer a short specific stressor to your body to propel it to the next level, provided you then follow with a specific recovery protocol post camp to recover and adapt.‚ÄĮThese spikes‚ÄĮhelps¬†to avoid a plateau and also provides some great motivation ‚Äď particularly over winter.¬†

 

So no matter what distance you plan to race this coming season, make sure you are starting off with a strong base before you build into the next phase/s‚ÄĮof your training. This approach will safeguard you against injury, keep you healthy, help your race times come down and be a more consistent athlete in the process!

Happy Base Training!
Coach Sarah 

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Sarah is the Director & Head Coach at Complete Per4mance Coaching. Born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes, Sarah shares her 10 years of coaching and racing experience, knowledge and education with athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.

Contact Sarah to discuss training options for you.