Whether your goal is to win, hit the podium, nail a new PR, or simply just cross the finish line, there are things you can do right now to ensure the mental side of triathlon doesn’t derail your race or even worse, prevent you from getting to the start line altogether. Here are several mental training techniques you can use to build toughness and persevere when training, racing, and life gets difficult.
Summer 2019 is here! After a bitter cold winter and soggy spring in Upstate New York I skipped town and am kicking off summer in Europe. Italy to be exact. I’ve been here for over a week now and while I’ve allowed myself to take some liberties with my nutrition and exercise because, well #YOLO, I’ve been able to maintain a proper balance of quality training for Ironman Mont Tremblant and eating well enough without meticulously counting calories because, let’s be honest, that’s a major drag!
Training for an Ironman shouldn’t dominate your life. It should be a priority, but it doesn’t need to be all encompassing. I’m in Italy for the next two weeks vacationing with family. It’s not ideal in terms of timing with Ironman Mont Tremblant less than 10 weeks away, however there are ways I’m incorporating my training into the trip so I can maintain my fitness in this final lead up to the race.
I’ve made recovery a priority so there are frequent, and specifically planned, complete days off almost once per week. I think it’s helped me become a fitter, more focused athlete. In addition to my one day of rest every 7 to 10 days, I’ve focused on THESE FIVE THINGS to help enhance my recovery and maximize my fitness.
There’s a sign that pops up at plenty of Ironman races around the world. It reads: “If you’re not divorced, you didn’t train hard enough.” While meant to be tongue-in-cheek there is a bit of truth to it. Ironman training can put a serious strain on your relationships with your spouse, friends, and family. With a wife and a two-year-old daughter, it’s important for me to balance training and you know, life.
It’s the First Saturday in May and that can only mean two things: you’re neck deep in your race prep training block and it’s Kentucky Derby Day! For as long as I can remember, the Derby was also circled on the calendar, the schedule cleared, and party plans made. As I’ve grown into the sport of triathlon, I can say the same thing about my A-race each season. Circled, cleared, and scheduled.
Believe it or not the similarities don’t stop at my personal priorities. Oh no, there’s plenty you too can learn from the Run for the Roses and how it also applies to your upcoming Ironman.
Here are five things Ironman triathletes can learn from the Kentucky Derby:
Each macronutrient (fat, carbohydrate, protein) plays an important role in health and performance. For example, different carbohydrate will affect energy and performance depending on nutrient timing and type of carbohydrate a triathlete eats. Fats are the most calorically dense macronutrient and if over consumed can negatively affect body composition. Protein during and after workouts, for example, will be used for energy and repair, respectively.
Different types of fat will affect energy and performance depending on nutrient timing and quality of the fat. Fats are the most calorically dense macronutrient and if over consumed can negatively affect body composition.
Dietary fats should generally come in the lower end of your macronutrient breakdown, especially if you’re properly focusing on carbohydrates and protein. This will leave an athlete with fats making up roughly 20% of their daily caloric intake, generally.
This is the first article in a five week series where we discuss proper nutrition for triathletes. The first week focuses on basic nutrition practices for general health. Moving forward we’ll explain the importance of fat, protein, and carbohydrate as well as share strategies to calculate your daily caloric expenditure and the proper macronutrient breakdown to improve your athletic performance.
Basic nutrition practices for general health
The evidence of poor nutrition is rampant. You don’t need to look further than your friends, family, and coworkers for proof. It’s an unfortunate reality, but there’s no sense in sugarcoating everything just because they do.
I was reminded of this fact on Saturday morning when my alarm went off at 4:00 AM (yes, on a Saturday) and it was 17F degrees outside. I had a 90 minute bike ride with an hour at or near threshold followed by a 20 minute brick run. My pain cave is the uninsulated garage and I forget to get the propane heater refilled. Alas, I was left to battle the workout plus the frozen temperatures. Good mental training, right?
On Saturday the bug got me. Bad. My alarm was set for 4:30 a.m. and I planned on being on the trainer by 5:00 a.m. for a 90 minute ride, which included five 10 minute intervals just below threshold followed by a short, but snappy 10 minute brick run. So when I awoke at 3:15 a.m. with unspeakable pain in my stomach and a splitting headache I knew that as I raced to the bathroom that would be the only running I’d be doing that day.
You wake up to the morning sun shining through the bedroom window and the sweet sound of birds chirping just beyond the glass. It’s the first nice day of the year (for us Upstaters this happens in late April most likely) and you’re eager to throw down some watts on the open road! Just before you clip in you do a check to make sure you have all the essentials to be seen by driver, to repair a flat, to pay for some unforeseen item a.k.a f*ck you money, and enough nutrition to get you back home safely. So what does all of that look like?
Training tools are all well and good by themselves but unless you know how to use them effectively, they’re meaningless. With (hopefully) a renewed sense of focus on my swimming, here are the most essential training tools, aside from your cap and goggles, for triathletes to improve their form and get faster in the water.
The two most important elements of an Ironman training plan are patience and consistency. Sure, the program itself is important. It needs to be structured in such a way that promotes progress and physical adaptation. But at the end of the day, if you’re not consistent in training the program fails. If you’re not patient in training the program fails, no matter how great the program is.
Triathlon saved my life. I made a promise to myself that I’d start living healthier after my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2014. I was overweight, unhappy, and settling for one job after another with no real desire or direction. But what started out as a goal for myself later blossomed into a passion for endurance sports and helping others realize the freedoms in life and sport that triathlon has afforded me.
Drinking is a non-negotiable for many people, and there’s really no reason to eliminate it completely. Almost all of us enjoy drinking to some degree. It’s fun, it’s livens us up, allows to meet new people, share stories, and the list goes on. So how do we build it into our nutrition routine without allowing it to derail our progress?