Working with the over-trained Triathlete
It’s time talk about the “elephant in the room”, probably the biggest reason so many triathletes pull up with an injury during the year – overtraining.
In the strength and conditioning community, triathlon is a confusing sport to comprehend with athletes demanding so much volume with so little rest.
I recently attended a seminar, where I was sat in a room full of strength coaches representing several national sports (including Rugby League, Netball, Athletics and Cricket) to discuss training periodisation and recovery strategies.
As we moved around the room the conversation was largely based around team strategies until they got to me, where I revealed that the majority of my clients were triathletes. We then took to laying out a standard weeks training for an age group triathlete, basically describing a two session a day, six days a week model, with interval and aerobic efforts for each discipline. From here we then discussed the volume (amount of hours) and perceived effort (RPE) of these efforts to work out average stress levels across the week. And let’s just say that no other athlete in a team sport came close to these training hours.
When you then add in work, family and social life, there isn’t much room left for rest and recovery, let alone strength and conditioning.
Why do I share this with you?
1. Without sounding like a buzz-kill, I want you to think about how sustainable your current lifestyle is. Do you feel that there is a balance in your current weekly routine? Do all your sessions have a purpose? A recovery ride still has a purpose. Or are there a couple of glaringly obvious physical issues that you are not addressing that are compromising your performance?
2. To show you how best to implement fundamental strength sessions into your week in a way that is complimentary to your current training and not just adding more ‘hours’ to the schedule.
As we all know participation in sport comes with a naturally competitive environment, which in general leads to a healthy obsession for improvement and reward. As a result, it is very common to work with athletes of all abilities and see them filling every free hour with swim, bike and run sessions.
Get ahead of the game
The thing that sets successful athletes apart from the rest is quality. When we look at professional athletes, even though their paces and times may be much faster and they may not have that nine to five office job to work around, the majority of them have learnt how to refine their schedules; working smarter without filling their every waking hour with training miles.
You can train hour after hour to build the fitness and capacity to race to your potential, but if you don’t nail the fundamentals time and time again – nutrition, sleep, recovery and strength work – all of your work is pointless.
Whenever we first start out any new activity – “it’s all systems go!” and we look to train as much as possible, whenever possible. This enthusiasm at the start is great, however, “effort without direction is wasted.”
1. Fill out a timetable like the one below with your typical training week. Include swim, bike, run and the type of session e.g. long slow, interval, speed, hill work. Also, put down your work hours.
2. If you are currently doing strength sessions in the gym or at home put these in. If you don’t, I still want you to add in where you might schedule 2-3 x 30-45minutes sessions.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure, we will cover this in Part 2. Have a go!