It’s me, Dan Cox, here to offer some tips for Managing Multisport. Triathlon is an incredible sport, consisting of a series of unique endurance challenges you must tackle to get to the finish line. The rush I get in each sport is unique, and the feeling of crossing a triathlon finish line is unmatched - you’ve just conquered three demanding endurance sports!
The biggest challenge for me is not race day, but rather finding the time to get in the appropriate amount of training across all FOUR disciplines; swimming, biking, running, and nutrition (yes, I do consider nutrition a discipline since it’s a crucial element to nail for race day success). Time management is a triathlete’s best friend, and something I work on each year I compete.
Here are a few of my tips for getting the most out of the time you have to train, and each element of the triathlon:
Make a Plan
My coach, Gareth, is big on laying out a plan for my season. His process is simple and involves these steps:
1. Set a specific goal.
The key here is specificity. Do you want to just finish, or do you want to finish in a certain time? Write this goal down where you'll see it daily. Keeping your goal top of mind will ensure it’s always a priority. Challenge yourself with this goal!
2. Perform a test to find out your current fitness level.
There are many ways to determine your fitness level. The most important thing, no matter how you go about it, is getting baseline data so you can track improvement. While I recommend enlisting the help of an expert, another popular way to set a baseline is finding a short route around your neighbourhood and running it all out. Write down your time. Come back in a few weeks, repeat the same loop, and see if your time has improved.
3. Build a plan that takes you from where you are now to where you want to be.
For a busy guy, this is where hiring a coach pays off for me. But even if you don’t have a coach writing workouts for you, there are countless online training plans you can download for free created by experts.
4. Monitor your progress using simple technology and performance tests.
Regular monitoring and repeating the tests I did in step 2 allow me to track the progress of my training and make sure I am doing the appropriate amount of work.
Prioritize Your Time
Dealing with one sport or activity can be difficult, and it gets exponentially harder when you are managing multiple sports. Prioritizing your time for where you’ll see the most gains is a great way to ensure you’re always advancing in the sport. Unfortunately for me, my least favourite part of a triathlon is also arguably the most important from a time perspective- the bike.
Getting saddle time in is a difficult challenge for most triathletes, but time in the saddle can often yield the most significant gains in race day performance, so it’s crucial to figure out a way to get the time in. One tip is to schedule one or two shorter training days during the week where you focus on speed or tempo work. The increased intensity will ensure you get the most of the time you have.
Training to Eat
Nutrition is the fourth discipline that all triathletes need to train for. This doesn't just include race day, but your daily life as well. Finding the time to eat healthy while managing life can be difficult but if you want to see the best results, you need to fuel your body correctly.
My top key to success is planning ahead (sense a theme?). Try different fuel and fuelling strategies early-on so you can learn what works best for you and be prepared for race day.
Understanding the Impact of the Swim
In most triathlons, the swim is the shortest distance in the event and by far takes up the least amount of time for most competitors. It is also usually the most labour-intensive sport to train for; the time to drive to the pool and back a few times a week can really add up! While focusing on the bike and run should be a priority, if you can't make it through the swim, you won't get to that finish line!
One of the most critical ways to respect the swim without spending a ton of time each week is focusing on form. Swimming is all about form; creating less drag will make it easier. Find swim drills that will increase your speed and efficiency. Also, consider joining a local masters class if you have one! You’ll get on-deck coaching without needing a 1:1 coach and the structured workouts will improve all aspects of your swimming
Finishing It off with the Run
You’ve made it through swimming. You pedalled your way through the bike course, and now, it’s just you and your running shoes that will take you to the finish line.
You can’t fake your way through running fitness; you need to work on this throughout the year. It’s also when most people will see you during the race, so you need to look gooood!
A few things that help make my run training seem a little easier.
- Fall in love with brick runs
- Going for a run immediately after a bike ride is a great way to get your body ready for what’s to come on race day. Your body will respond very differently when completing these disciplines back-to-back.
- Swim to Run bricks are also a great way to add miles. Jump on the treadmill at the gym after you’re out of the water to increase mileage.
- Listen to something interesting
- I love being able to run with a good book or podcast on while I run. Throwing on my AfterShokz and listening to something great makes the miles melt away.
With so much going on, you cannot be your best if you don’t map out how training will fit in with the rest of your life. Writing everything down and making time for each aspect of the race will yield excellent results on race day. When life does happen, focus on your most essential workouts and stick to your plan as closely as possible. The planning and effort will pay off with a hard-earned finisher medal and bragging rights for days!