Ten ways to enhance your sprint triathlon training for the New Year
Posted Jan 02 2010 7:00am
Are you thinking about signing up for a sprint triathlon this year? Perhaps
you're a complete beginner just trying to decide if sprint triathlon
training is right for you. Or maybe you're a seasoned veteran of triathlons,
but you want some handy tips to enhance your sprint triathlon training this
No matter who you are, I've designed 10 ways to make your sprint triathlon
training productive, efficient and enjoyable.
1. Sign-Up Now. That's right. Don't wait until 4 weeks out from the race. By
signing up right now, you'll trigger some very powerful components of your
psyche - specifically the parts that inspire you to get off the couch or out
of bed and begin your sprint triathlon training. The pressure of knowing
that you are signed up for an event provides intrinsic motivation ("must be
ready!") combined with extrinsic motivation ("can't embarrass myself!". The
latter motivation will be even more powerful if you tell the whole world
that you signed up for a sprint triathlon.
2. Make Your Plan. Here's how to perfectly design your sprint triathlon
training plan: a) pick the date of the race - that's your race and taper
week; b) take the 4-6 weeks leading up to that week - that's the part where
your workouts build in intensity and race specificity; c) take the 4-6
weeks before that - that's the part where each workout becomes longer and
you develop more endurance; d) take the 4-6 weeks before that - that's the
part where you hone your skills like swim drills and run drills and strength
training. Voila! A sprint triathlon training plan!
3. Test. There is nothing else that even comes close to motivating you than
a test. One of the biggest mistakes that triathletes make during sprint
triathlon training is not taking a baseline measurement, then repeating that
measurement several times leading up to the race. Try to test every 4 weeks:
a 500m swim test, a 1 mile run test, and a 3 mile bike test are perfect
measurements for a sprint triathlon.
4. Avoid Your Facebook Ironman Friends. If you just got back from an
explosive 2 mile run, then log-in to your social network to find that your
friend just slogged out 12 miles, you may be discouraged. It is very
important, however, for you to realize that the individual who is training
for Ironman is actually making themselves slower when it comes to sprint
triathlon training. So don't be discouraged that you're not "fit enough".
For sprint triathlon training, you should pursue speed, and not slow
5. Consider Nutrition Supplementation. There are many nutrition supplements
that can assist you with explosiveness, power, speed and recovery. A few of
the tried and true aids that are easily accessible to enhance your sprint
triathlon training include: creatine, nitric oxide, CoQ10, branched chain
amino acids and glutamine. Don't be afraid of supplements! All those listed
here have been researched many times and found to be both safe and
6. Include Overspeed Training. Despite popular belief, overspeed training
does not mean that you go out and swim, bike or run faster than you normally
would during your sprint triathlon training. Instead, this term refers to
neuromuscular training - teaching your muscles how to contract quickly and
repetitively. For swimming, this could include practicing with a metronome.
For running, you can include treadmill efforts at a pace that makes your
legs turn over faster than they would while running outside. And for
cycling, you can simply choose an easy gear and perform fast spins at 100+
revolutions per minute.
7. Do Plyometrics. Jumping, hopping, bounding and leaping exercises, also
known as "plyometrics" can significantly enhance your sprint triathlon
training performance by teaching your muscles to recover quickly between
contractions and also produce faster and more forceful efforts. An example
of plyometrics would include perform a series of 3x10 jumps up onto a bench
or box before you go out for run, or chest passing a medicine ball against a
wall for 8 explosive reps. Doing a single plyometric session at least once
per week for eight weeks leading up to your sprint triathlon will make you a
8. Don't Taper Too Long. Tapering for 2-3 weeks is a "trickle-down"
technique from Ironman triathletes that unfortunately will leave a sprint
triathlete unfit and stale for their relatively shorter competition. Five to
seven days will adequately prepare most athletes for a sprint triathlon, and
seven to ten days are all that is necessary for an athlete who is performing
rigorous sprint triathlon training.
9. Don't Lift Weights On Race Week. At many gyms, you'll see triathletes
rushing to the weights on race week to get that last little bit of strength
training into their sprint triathlon training preparation. Unfortunately, it
can take up to seven days for your body to fully recover from the muscle
tearing and damage that occurs while resistance training. In the last week
prior to your sprint triathlon, stay out of the weight room and skip your
plyometric exercises. Instead, focus on a few quality swim, bike and run
sessions at race pace intensity.
10. Do Sugar Rinses. Although your body has more than enough carbohydrate
storage to last the entire length of a sprint distance triathlon, that
doesn't mean that you should completely avoid any sugar during the race.
Research studies have shown cyclists to be significantly faster and have a
higher tolerance to the pain of exercise when they simply tasted sugar by
doing a quick mouth rinse with a carbohydrate-based sport drink solution.
During the last few weeks of your sprint triathlon training, try swirling
and spitting a sweet solution. You'll find that it gives you just a little
extra energy, even if you don't actually take a drink.
These ten rules of sprint triathlon training, brought to you by Ben
Greenfield and the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, will ensure that the
build-up to your race is smart and highly effective. For more practical and
useful tips just like this, go to http://www.rockstartriathlete.com!
Ben Greenfield is the Renaissance man of the sport of triathlon.
He's a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more more.