Monday, March 29, 2010

Five Early Season Triathlon Mistakes

By: Sweet

#1 Racing too much too early or not racing at all. Let’s look at the first part of the equation: racing too much too early. When the days start to get longer and warmer we northern state triathletes emerge pale-skinned from our basements and health clubs and venture back into the great outdoors. There is often a tendency to overdo early season racing. All races, whether A, B, or C priority, should be strategic parts of a comprehensive season plan.

What constitutes too much? I would say 3 or more races per month this time of year is too often for most athletes. What about racing too little? Another group of triathletes can’t really believe the off-season is over and triathlon race season will be in full-swing in 2 more months. The early season is a great time to do some sport-specific racing.

So, rather than seeking out a super-sprint indoor tri, think instead about doing some blocks of single-sport training and racing. If swimming is your weakness, dedicate most of a month to improving in the pool and maybe go outside of your comfort zone by entering a masters swim meet. If you want to get better at cycling consider doing some group rides with the local roadies or participating in some time trials.

#2 Adding volume too quickly. Many triathletes hate, loathe, and detest indoor training. When the snow disappears from the roads, many in this group will get spring fever and overdo their training. If your winter running regimen consisted of 3 hours per week on the treadmill, it is not a good idea to do six hours of running the first nice week of spring.

You have to be the most careful with adding running volume. A good rule of thumb is to add no more than 5-10% per week then maintain that level the next week. Schedule a recovery week every 3 or 4 weeks. Swimming and cycling are lower impact, so you can ramp up volume a little more aggressively, but the recovery week applies to all 3 sports equally.

#3 Failure to plan (is planning to fail). Whether or not you work with a coach, everyone should have a written plan for their season. The plan should outline goal races and the steps you will take to prepare for these races. Basic periodization should be the foundation of a season plan. When are you focusing on endurance (long, slow miles)? When are you building speed and power? When are you tapering?

#4 Lack of bike maintenance. Did you hammer out the miles on your bike last year, finish that big race and then just put it in the garage (or on the trainer) for the winter? To make sure you are safe and ready for the season you should inspect the following:

Tires: Are there any large cuts or cracks? Are there tiny bits of glass and rocks imbedded in the tread? Are the sidewalls starting to get worn out? Did you ride on the trainer all winter and wear out the tread on your rear tire?

Brake pads: These have grooves built into them that help determine wear. If you can’t see the grooves any longer it is time for a new set. Also check pads for imbedded pieces of rock or metal.

Cables: Brake and derailleur cables should be replaced at least every other season. If you often ride in the rain or more than 5,000 miles a year, then replace cables yearly.

Chain: The chain should be replaced every 5,000 miles or every other year.

#5 Improper nutrition periodization. The concept of nutrition periodization basically states that what we eat needs to change along with our training periodization. During the off-season your calorie and carbohydrate needs are significantly lower than during the build or race phase of your season. Make sure that you are sufficiently fueling your workouts and recovery as you begin to add training volume to your week.