Can you guess what the oracle of triathlon will say when seek his advice?
Posted May 22 2010 7:00am
Imagine a triathlon like the journey to the top of a tall mountain. There
are six competitors in this journey, and at the top of that mountain is a
triathlon training guide - a seasoned endurance athlete with the ability to
address all the issues that the competitors had getting to the top of the
Every triathlete struggles with different obstacles in their journey up the
mountain, and the triathlon training guide emerges from his cave at the top
of the mountain, ready to answer their questions.
The first competitor slowly approaches, gasping for breath, and says, "I was
fast for awhile, but I got slower and slower towards the top of the
The triathlon training guide rubs his chin, "It sounds to me like you have
subpar muscular endurance. Rather than focusing your efforts on purely slow
aerobic training, or doing very short intervals, make sure that you include
some long tempo efforts and long intervals in your training. These should
last 5-10 minutes for running, and 10-20 minutes for cycling, and be
performed at about 75-85% intensity".
The second competitor shakes his head with frustration. "I just couldn't
beat my competition in that final 200 meter sprint to the top of the
With an understanding nod, the triathlon training guide responds, "You need
some fast finish key workouts, young competitor. Try to include a final fast
effort at the end of a weekly swim, bike or run that becomes progressively
faster as the workout lasts, then finishes with a maximum pace fast effort,
such as a 1/2 mile hard run, a 5K hard bike, or a 200 meter hard swim."
The third competitor grimaces from soreness, "My legs got very tired every
time the mountain got steep."
"Your legs are weak," rumbled the triathlon training guide, "Do steep hill
repeats that are short in time and low in cadence, and include squats and
lunges in your gym program, rather than just spending all your time in yoga
The fourth competitor wavers with weakness, "I was grumpy, depressed and
lightheaded most of the time I was racing."
The triathlon training guide holds out a gel, "Moodiness is a sign of low
blood sugar - you should only feel like that during a targeted fat burning
session, not during a race."
The fifth competitor stumbles forward, with sticky, sugary fingers, "My
energy was fine, but I got nauseous with a grumbly stomach, so can I have a
"Not a chance, kid," the triathlon training guide continues, "This usually
means you ate too much, and had too much blood going to your gut. Next time,
remind yourself that this sport isn't a buffet line."
The sixth and final competitor shrugs, "This sport hurts. I twisted an
ankle, all my joints hurt and the front of my shoulder is killing me."
The triathlon training guide narrowed his eyes, "You are weak and
imbalanced. Do more single leg drills, more rotator cuff and core
strengthening, more flexibility work, and be sure you're using proper gear
and are fitted to it correctly. This sport shouldn't hurt like that."
And with that, the six competitors turned around for the easy descent down
the mountain, eager to try the climb again with their newfound knowledge.
The triathlon training guide smiled with satisfaction and disappeared into
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Ben Greenfield is the Renaissance man of the sport of triathlon.
He's a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more