What I learned from my triathlon training

My friends Bindi Karia and Andy Young are currently readying for the London Triathlon, and I've been recommending certain workouts and gyms to train. That experience brought me back to my own training for the Lanzarote triathlon.

When Ivan Shyr and I were competing in Lanzarote, we followed this training schedule for a good 6 weeks. The schedule was a combination of my experience with Army training, CrossFit/HIIT workouts, and skills acquisition - and it was simply a hypothesis.

Overall - it was a good planning general fitness schedule, but after our tri we would make the following changes:

  • Real life training: The last 3 weeks of training should be dedicated to real road training. We were physically fit - but hadn't trained to account for the intense high winds, the hills, nor the open water. We should have trained under these conditions.
  • Buy the right gear: We had all the shoes, helmets, and shorts. But the two things we neglected were a racing belt and a good triathlon watch (I now have a Garmin Fenix 2). The belt allows match day gel storage and easy racing number attaching, while the watch allows for understanding times and pace.
  • Better allocation of training time: The run and the bike portions make up a majority of the marathon, so we have should have shifted to training that instead of focusing on general fitness. A better schedule would have been to do minimum 2 one hour HIIT bike sessions (one session focusing on sprint intervals, and one session focusing on hill intervals). And for the run, focus on HIIT sessions, with 2 per week and one hill interval and one sprint interval.
  • Training in zones: Triathlons last more than 3 hours (my race time was slightly more than 5 hours), and it's important to maintain a steady, achievable pace for around 80% of the race while going fast the other 20%. We should have understood what were the right zones for us - and kept to that during the race.