This is the time of year for big proclamations, big goals and big dreams. Maybe you want to finish your first Olympic distance race, make an age group podium, or even qualify for Kona. Now is the time for those goals to take shape and race entries to be purchased.
Many triathletes think that harder, more intense workouts could be the answer to getting to the next level. Or you might drop a lot of money on fancy recovery boots or expensive cryotherapy treatments in the hope that you can recover better this year.
If that sounds like you, may I suggest an alternative? Instead of focusing on big, sweeping (and let’s face it, expensive) changes, this quick start guide gives you one actionable item to focus on per day, week, or month. Try one or try them all and you could improve your race results without modifying a single workout or breaking a sweat.
Note: although I’ve hit on a few of the performance pillars below, it’s best to assess your limiters with your coach to determine the right direction
Nutrition: Eat one salad per day.
You may think you’re already eating healthy but many athletes actually struggle to get adequate nutrition to support their training load. My recommendation for busy athletes is to eat a big salad at lunch to stock up on veggies and micronutrients. Plus it means easy meal-planning during the week because you can prep toppings and bring in bulk to the office.
Hydration: Drink one large bottle (30oz+) throughout the day.
Many of us struggle to drink enough water during the day between workouts. It’s easy to slip when the day is filled with a morning cup of coffee or meetings that keep you away from your desk. My recommendation is to carry a large sports bottle with you throughout the day. A single bottle won’t meet your daily hydration needs but it will get you on the right track to staying hydrated.
Sleep: Get in bed 30 minutes earlier per night.
Coaches, doctors and parents everywhere have been telling us to get more sleep for years. We know it’s good for our health, yet with a pile of laundry waiting, kids to read to, and work emails to check, it’s increasingly hard to get the recommended hours of shuteye per night. That’s why I recommend getting in bed just thirty minutes earlier per night. You have to start somewhere, and that extra thirty minutes means increased recovery.
Recovery: Commit to foam rolling & stretching five minutes per day.
Foam rolling and stretching are the perfect activities to complement watching Netflix. Or try it right before you shower after a workout. Just a few minutes a day will help you feel more mobile and help your legs recover before your next workout.
Strength: Spend one day a week doing resistance training.
Weights are your friends. Not just for strength gains but to maintain your existing strength as you age. Resistance training comes in many forms (TRX, circuit training, pilates, are just a few examples) so find a class or style that suits your personality and get stronger this winter! Your body will thank you with increased injury resistance and durability when the season heats up.
Efficiency: Practice your transitions.
With so much emphasis on your actual fitness level within training plans, transitions are often the neglected discipline of triathlon. Practice doing transitions under two minutes and in pressure situations. Get a stopwatch and go through each step one day per week. And don’t forget the dreaded T1. A little practice will make wrestling with your wetsuit that much easier on race day.