Focus on the mileage
If you come to swimming late, you may need to focus on the miles – getting distance into your arms – and spending a lot of time at aerobic threshold and concentrating on technique. This is because when it comes to open water, you need to make sure you have good technique and can pull through strong in the water, otherwise you’re just not going to get through it. I’d also always practise in open water because it’s very different to being in a pool – I learned the hard way, getting in and being dunked, which wasn’t a great start!
Go out hard on the swim
Once you get your base miles in a lot of people will take the approach I do – start off slow and build into it. But, in ITU racing, if you miss that front pack then it’s gone and it’s too hard to get back on. If you get out hard and make that front pack then you can sit in and bring the pace down and tap away at a comfortable pace. For mass starts, head out hard, focus on the first 20 strokes then see where you are, and then find feet or just settle into it. Those first 20 strokes are critical to a good swim.
Bike with others
In the summer we do a chaingang. I have a love/hate relationship with it because it’s really hard, and I get nervous about it because it’s about an hour of beating yourself up and if you get dropped then you’re gone and the rest of it is on your own!
But you always feel good after it because you’ve got a good session out of it. We’ll do a run after it but only 6mins worth of efforts, so it might look like 3 x 1min fast as if running fast out of transition, then 3 x 1min tempo at around 10km pace. Or I’ll do 3, 2, 1, which is the opposite of that session – starting out steady, and picking up the pace for 2 and 1.
Don’t focus too much on the run
People think it’s mad that I only run four times a week, but I don’t think triathletes need to run that much because we already do a lot of other cross training, which makes us aerobically fit. Plus, it’s the least technical of the three sports. In the winter I’ll do hill reps, which will help get power into my legs. And in summer I’ll transfer that to reps on the grass with one minute being the longest.
Hit the turbo
45-60mins is enough do some work on cadence with fast legs, and some overgearing efforts. Do some 3,2,1s, which basically means getting quicker as you descend down, as well as getting out of the saddle. I’ve started doing sessions when you sprint for 30secs before doing a 10min tempo effort straight after, which is hard because it fills your body with lactate and then you have to continue to work hard for 10mins. But it simulates a race effort, as you’re able to switch it up and get an advantage straight out of T1.
Transitions are key
Last year I attacked the run a lot differently. I wanted to have better transitions because, boy were they slow! Being focussed is key, so practise running through it in your head at least once a week in the lead-up to your race, as well as doing brick sessions in training. And, elastic laces are a must for the bike-to-run switch!
Make time to nap
On a training camp I do nap quite a bit. I’ll set an alarm for about an hour, which gives me time to come round and get ready to go again for another session. Once you start to introduce hard sessions they can take a lot out of you, so if you can, factor in time to nap, eat and chill out! There’s no magical recovery that I do, it’s just the basics really.