Training for a Triathlon:
Two Training Triangles
Are you training for a triathlon, a century ride, or a marathon? If so, you need to know about these two Training Triangles. The first one is called Elements of Endurance Training:
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As you train, you develop these three capacities. Endurance and strength form the base of the triangle, supporting your capacity to develop speed without injury.
As an endurance athlete, it’s only logical for you to focus on developing... well, endurance! After all, you have to go the distance. But endurance training for a triathlon does not have to be brutal, or you may end up experiencing Chronic Adrenal Fatigue. When you train intelligently, it is healthy and empowering! Just execute each stroke, each stride perfectly.
If you are training for a triathlon, a marathon, a century ride or an epic open-water swim, you have to strengthen your muscles and connective tissues. After all, they have to “do work” for along time, and withstand the stress of endless repetitions. However, when you train intelligently, they will do less work and experience less stress. Just execute each stroke, each stride perfectly.
As you gain experience, and cross the finish line gracefully, you may shift your focus to going the same distance, but strive to cross the finish line faster. Now you have to add speed training to your program. However, when you train intelligently, there is more to speed than gritting your teeth and pushing your body to new levels of pain and exertion. Just execute each stroke, each stride perfectly.
Endurance, strength and then speed – these are the pursuits when training for a triathlon. However, there is a caveat that each of us must take to heart: We have to avoid injury and illness.
Have you ever been sidelined by a cycling injury, a running injury or illness? Then you know just how crucial it is to stay healthy and able. “There I was, putting together the perfect training package for my goal race. All of a sudden, I (fill in the blank) and now I can’t (swim/bike/run) at all. As I sit here, I can feel my fitness going down the drain a little more each day... as my goal race gets closer. If I had just...” If you had just what?
What can you do to avoid injury or sickness?
Let’s consider the Endurance Training Cycle: “That’s obvious! Training is doing workouts to build endurance, strength and speed!” But your actual workouts constitute only one-third of your training cycle. Your training cycle consists of a balance of three components: stress, recovery and adaptation. This is the second training triangle – The Training Cycle Triangle.
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When training for a triathlon, your workouts are just the stress component. When I was training for my first Ironman, I focused only on the stress component. I disregarded recovery and adaptation – there would be time to recover after the race. I stubbornly dug myself into a deep trench of fatigue and overtraining.
If you focus only on your workouts as training, you risk: Injury, burnout, sickness, a shorter lifespan... or even death. If there is no balance in your training cycle, there will be no glory!
If you want to see progression and improvement in your athletic ability, each time you stress your body (muscular system, aerobic system, hormonal system), you must allow your body to recover, and to adapt. Adaptation is a healthy organism’s way of responding to stress: “I adapt so that the next time I encounter this level of stress, it won’t cause as much damage.”
Adaptation is improvement. Improvement is increased endurance, strength and speed. Zero adaptation equals zero improvement.
Make this your training mantra: “Stress-recovery-adaptation!”
Lets move on to the second crucial element in endurance training: Beyond Energy System Training.
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