Athletes swimming at Hever Castle Triathlon 2014
Training

21 triathlon tips from the world’s best triathletes

From Olympic medallists to world champions, some of the sport’s greatest triathletes share their top tips on everything from nutrition to race day tactics and recovery

SWIM TIPS

1. The first thing to remember on race-day is to never allow yourself to get cold before you enter the water. Do a warm-up jog with plenty of clothing on to raise your body temperature. Then put your well-fitted wetsuit on while also keeping warm socks and gloves on.
David McNamee, Ironman UK winner 2015

2. Practise swimming straight by swimming with your eyes closed for 9-10 strokes. This will help you learn to swim straight without looking at the black line on the bottom of the pool (practise this when the lane is clear!). A glance at the lane ropes will tell you which side you veer towards. 
Chrissie Wellington 4x Ironman World Champion

  

BIKE TIPS

3. Have a proper bike fit. Being comfortable on the bike is key to being happy and going fast on a bike.

4. If it’s a technical course work on skills. I think this is the most underrated part of women’s ITU racing at the moment. I don’t think I’m the strongest rider in the race, but I’m very skilful and fast through corners, which has helped me finish on the podium a few times this year.

5. Find a training partner. I often do my hard sessions with one or two others. Not every session is going to feel amazing, so to have someone else out there suffering with you can help. Plus it keeps you accountable!

6. A key session for building bike strength is basic key session that I will do is something like 6-7 x 3mins with 3mins recovery. I’ll do the 3mins at a prescribed wattage (usually at 120% of my threshold). If I can nail that session then I know my riding is in a good place. I should also add that I use a power meter – a key tool in my training.
Flora Duffy, 2016 ITU world champion

7. In training, over the hills back home and in our Spanish training base, we usually go for the biggest battle with a 28 cassette, but for races it depends. In Cozumel we went 11-26 and in Rio 11-28; it’s totally dependant on the course.
Ali Brownlee, 2 x Olympic gold medallist

  

RUN TIPS

8.  I run every time I get off the bike. Most of the time it’s 5-15mins but once a week I make sure to get a race in that’s over 10km.
Andrew Starykowicz, Ironman pro

9. To improve your running I’d suggest drills that activate your glutes. One I use regularly is simply stepping up onto a step, and using your glutes by making sure your weight is on the back of your foot not your toe.
Jodie Stimpson, double Commonwealth champion

    

NUTRITION TIPS

10. I have a three-day carb loading protocol ahead of a 70.3 race, so its not just focused on a single day as you end up feeling heavy come race-day. During the race I have a certain amount of carbs to hit, which I get from a mixture of Clif’s energy drink and their Shot Bloks.
Holly Lawrence, 2016 Ironman 70.3 world champion

11. Before a race I sodium load, so I drink a high sodium solution that’s made up specifically for me on sweat rate tests. I’m not very good at drinking during a race but I try to consume 500ml of energy drink on the bike. I use a fairly standard CHO/electrolyte solution. Post race we always have a standard sports recovery shake waiting for us and often another energy drink.
Non Stanford, Olympic and WTS triathlete

    

INJURY COPING TIPS

12. Injuries are very frustrating and can easily break you down mentally. You need to stay motivated and remember why you started in the first place. Injuries are a lesson for us to learn from, either by increasing your training load too quickly, improving your mechanics, assessing a weakness in the body etc. sadly they’re part of the sport and every time you overcome an injury you’ll be stronger physically and mentally, so never give up.
Henry Schoeman, Olympic bronze medallist

13. Without a doubt being injured is the worst part of the job. It’s very important to listen to your body – when you feel pain you have to pay attention to it. It’s better to stop training, and begin again when you’re confident the pain has subsided.
Javier Gomez, 5x ITU world champion, 2014 70.3 world champion and London 2012 silver medallist

    

RECOVERY TIPS

14. I refuel as soon as I can after every race, usually with a protein shake. I normally wear compression wear for at least 3-4 days after a big race to increase blood flow to tired muscles. I also take a supplement called CurraNZ, which is a high potency antioxidant – I believe this massively speeds up my recovery time and allows me to train the day after racing.
Lucy Charles, 5th fastest swim at 2015 Ironman Worlds 

15. The day after a race I do a short bike-to-run session with small amounts of work in both or sometimes just a run depending on what I’ve done in the lead up, but the whole session is no more than 90mins.
Jodie Stimpson, double Commonwealth champion

    

TAPERING TIPS

16.  Both volume and intensity are reduced a week out. Race week often involves international travel so that needs to be taken into consideration for recovery. Tuesday ill be the last day any real intensity is incorporated. We’ll have a shortened race-pace swim in the morning, which is low in volume but still pretty fast.
Non Stanford, Olympic and WTS triathlete

    

TRI NEWBIE TIPS

17.  I would continue to invest more time in the swim as a good comfortable start is half the work. Combine swims in the pool with open-water swims to build up experience. As for the bike, just concentrate on the miles – no speed work. Train on a regular basis and increase the mileage from time-to-time. To feel comfortable on the run after the bike, practice in training. After a bike ride run for 1 or 2 miles, just to get used to the feeling.
Frederik Van Lierde, 2013 Ironman world champion

   

IRONMAN TIPS

18. For the newbie Ironman can be daunting, especially when you’re sitting in your hotel room the night before and it dawns on you what the hell you’ve done to yourself. But, if you pace it well and keep to your nutrition plan, the day will pass relatively quickly. For 50% of the race you should be well within your comfort zone. My advice would be to aim for a negative split so the second half is faster than the first. If you aim for that, you’ll probably end up pacing it perfectly.
Will Clarke, 2x British national champion, Olympian and Ironman pro

19. For any first timer I also say to practise your nutrition in training to train your gut to take on a lot of calories while racing.
Liz Blatchford, 3rd at Ironman World championships 2013 & 2015 

20. My top tips for a full-distance tri would be to practice your nutrition strategy, don’t go too hard on the bike, and try to enjoy it!
Lucy Gossage, 6x Ironman champion

21. Having mental strength is one of the most crucial things in triathlon. It’s going to get hard at points during the race but you have to expect it and just keep digging in. Things will get better but you have to push through the bad times. At the end it’ll all seem worthwhile.
Joe Skipper, Ironman pro & British Iron record holder

Sports psychology for triathletes: 11 tips for improving your mental strength


 
 

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