Key Success to Racing Long Course
Summer is nearly here and the great news is that you have your opportunity to test out your training and fitness that you have been hopefully building over winter. Also warmer weather and more daylight hours will mean you have some more decent weather to get that training happening.
For a beginner lining up for your first long course, it can be quite daunting. However, if you are able to understand how to go about the race and by this I mean pacing on the bike and run your experience on the day will be very positive. Using your training sessions to learn how to pace will be enormously beneficial. There is no point in training, getting out there and going at a super high intensity when come race day, because of the time it takes to complete a long course triathlon the intensity cannot be sustained. Training days should often simulate the intensity of race day. So, here are some tips on what matters in your preparation and on race day.
GET FIT ON THE BIKE
This is especially true for people new to triathlon or riding in general. The fitter you can get yourself on the bike, the greater the chance of you running to your ability. There is no point focusing on running because you are good at it or are strong at it. Unless you can get to the run with the least amount of fatigue you won’t reap the rewards of being a good runner. How do you get strong on the bike? Well, there are no real short cuts as it’s about volume. This is gained through frequency and distance of riding, even if you can only ride twice a week. Make this a ride with some intensity or strength work mid-week and then a long ride that you build on the weekend. To have completed at least two 90km rides or distances close to the full distance of your rides will benefit you not only physically but mentally as well.
RUNNING OFF THE BIKE
Every triathlon you do, you are required to run off the bike. So to prepare the body and the mind to how it feels to run off the bike, I believe completing shorter runs frequently (this means every week if not 2x per week) off the bike. If you can start to run strongly then this will continue throughout the run leg. It is important to get the feet moving quickly, to get the legs running at a cadence close to 180rpm straight away. To initially include 10 minutes as 30 seconds fast feet, 30 seconds easy and finish with 10 minutes at race pace, is a good a place to start. You can add more time to this, as you get comfortable doing the above. 20 to 40 minute runs are suitable for this type of run. Putting in a longer run of around 10 km maybe be useful close to race day so you can learn about your likely pace come race day.
LONG RUNS – YES OR NO
From a confidence point of view, yes it is important to try to run the distance before the day. You do not have to do it off the bike but you could complete a long the day after you have completed your long bike Including or building the distance every second week should be worked into your training. Obviously, you want to do at least two other runs a week.
HARD AND FAST RUNS – YES OR NO
So, typically we include intervals every week and they are still important to improve your running efficiency and fitness. However, given you have some harder bike sessions each week, the fatigue will accumulate and your performance during these harder workouts will be compromised. You need to work out your limiter. For most beginners, it is their bike leg. To make and keep the intensity in that discipline makes more sense. You can still include fartlek, moderate or tempo paced runs, hill efforts and some threshold work (which can be done off the bike) in your run sessions.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FUELLING:
Many races in triathlon long course events can be ruined through inadequate or incorrect fuelling. Many times athletes are consuming too much especially on the bike in order to try and make up for maybe not consuming much on the run. The problem arises in that they hit the run with their stomach contents bouncing around and the feel nauseous and bloated. This can result in a lot of discomfort and the need to try out the portaloos on course (note that this is not ideal). The most important thing is to practice what you plan in training. Being aware that you can get a fair bit of carbohydrate in your drinks or fluid, and being across the weather conditions you will race in will definitely affect how much fluid you will need.