The innate quest to improve and succeed is what makes the multisport lifestyle so appealing. Multisport is all about challenging oneself. Every athlete who signed up for a triathlon, duathlon, or even a run race chose these events because of how difficult it is and consequently, how fulfilling it is to overcome these difficulties.
Sometimes, though, it reaches a point where things get too difficult. No matter how hard we work, we don’t seem to improve or get faster. On top of this, the overwhelming demands of work, family, and life in general get out of hand. We’re here to help; here are a few tips on how you can be a better athlete and overcome your challenges.
Focus on the Right Intensity
Most beginner-friendly programs focus on volume. It’s all about logging in the miles no matter how slow or easy you’re going. While there’s nothing wrong with this, especially if you’re new to the sport, you can take it a notch further by dialing in the right intensity.
People tend to “fear” the word intensity since it’s commonly associated with discomfort and pain. However, intensity can also be comfortable or “aerobic.” Aerobic means you’re able to utilize the engine that is essential for endurance and resistance to fatigue. This intensity allows you to perform better over longer distances and recover faster between harder efforts. However, aerobic training is often confused with just “going easy.” There’s a specific intensity, namely the aerobic threshold, wherein you can maximize the time you spend training. Spending time here gives you the best bang for your buck. You can have the best of both worlds, you can train less and get stronger. More importantly, improvements are not only significant; they are also sustainable and much more manageable. The trick lies in “Knowing your numbers.”
In the lab, we’ve been helping athletes identify their thresholds and training zones, for almost a decade already. We use science and evidence-based methods such as lactate and metabolic (VO2 Max) testing to help analyze the fitness level of each athlete. From here, we can profile each individual and prescribe training workouts based on their results. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced athlete, training using data and science is irreplaceable and important.
It is often said that nutrition, specifically what you take in races, is the fourth discipline in triathlon. It is also just as important in other events such as marathons, duathlons, and the like. Why is it so important? Well to explain using an analogy, imagine you have a high performance sports car. No matter how fast it is, it will always be limited by its range: the amount of fuel it can carry. Different cars have different sized engines, fuel tank capacities, and varying access to gas stations. This also holds true for athletes and people in general. No matter how hard we train, we can never completely utilize our potential if we bonk during a race. In fact, from the hundreds of athletes I’ve helped in the lab, this is often the most common scenario.
“I’ve done the work in training but I can’t seem to put it all together on race day.” This happens mainly because the athlete is unaware of how much fuel he’s carrying, how much he’s burning, and at what rate he should be replenishing. This is another important thing we look at when we help athletes in the lab. Metabolic testing is not just about VO2 Max; rather, a more important aspect of it is to help each individual understand how to approach race nutrition. Race nutrition is a balancing act as too much fuel leads to bloating and osmotic diarrhea (LBM) while too little results in hypoglycemia and bonking. Aside from this, having a proper diet outside of training is something we advocate for. A race is only a single day compared to the hundreds of days you spend training. Doing it right leading up to the race will allow you to perform better on the big day!
Focus on Structure
When it comes to training, it’s all about the method and process. While we can get decent results from “just training,” we can make ourselves significantly more efficient by training with a purpose. This doesn’t just involve workouts; recovery is just as important.
First, we need to establish the type of training that is necessary. Identifying weaknesses, goals, ideal training sessions, and other “low hanging fruit” should be considered first and foremost when designing a program. Factoring in your availability and schedule comes in a close second. After all, the best program in the world is useless if you’re unable to do it. Lastly, turning it into a lifestyle puts the icing on the cake. By lifestyle, this means making the right choices and decisions (e.g., getting enough sleep, prioritizing the right workouts, fueling properly etc.) such that you can turn them into a habit. In the long run, it will make living healthy and getting stronger easier and more manageable!
Seeing athletes do well is perhaps one of the most fulfilling things I could ask for as a coach. Unknown to most, I was never really an athlete during my youth. I was a couch potato, I’d always get sick, and I couldn’t for the life of me, swim, bike, nor run. When I encountered triathlons and endurance races in general, I got so motivated to try it out because I was the last person you would think of who could finish one. 14 years later, with the right training and approach, I’m still getting faster, fitter, healthier, and of course enjoying the sport even more. My goal is to help athletes train for, perform well at, and enjoy the sport I love. Visit my website flyingdonv or send me a message (email@example.com), and I’d love to help you!