There are lots of “keys” to being better than average at triathlon, but there are a few, that won’t take any more work than you’re already putting in. If you follow the 7 points of advice below from Coach Mike Ricci, you’ll see improvement this season, without question!

1. Know Your Zones:
As coaches, it is our job to make sure our athletes understand the most recent research and technologies to help them advance in the sport.  It is a fun transition for us to help an athlete migrate to new ways of calculating something as simple as their heart rate.  Often times, an athlete will come to our coaching group, and is using an outdated 220-Age formula to determine their heart rate, and we get the pleasure of introducing them to our testing protocol, where we input their lactate threshold numbers into Training Peaks zone calculator in order to establish what their correct training zones are. Not surprisingly, the results that are achieved after this are clear. When athletes are training in the correct zones, they are rested for key workouts and understand the value of taking rest or recovery days. If you don’t know how to determine your training zones, use these links to help you:</div>

Read more about Defining Training Zones

Even better, check out The Triathlon Minute Video on Determining HR:

2. Be consistent with your training!
Consistency will do more for your training than anything else you can do. Having a great week of IM Klagenfurt 051training followed by a big ZERO week (that’s no training), is not going to help you reach your goals. Know that each week you have goals in terms of what you want to accomplish with regards to volume, intensity and frequency will go a long way to helping you improve over the long haul. Once your body gets into a routine, the workouts become much easier, as the body has learns it’s own “groove”.

3. Set Goals for yourself!
Just like you want to set weekly goals, you’ll want to set monthly and annual goals as well. Having a goal of 500 total hours (10 hours per week or 90 minutes on average, per day) is a pretty lofty goal with all the other responsibilities you have. If you can break it down into 2:45 minute workouts per day, it becomes more manageable.
When you write down your goals, you are 75% more likely to achieve them. That sounds like a good idea, so why not increase your chances of success!

4. Know your Sweat Rate!
If you are racing in a hot environment or live in a hot region, you have to know your sweat rate. How do you find this out? Easy! Weigh yourself in the nude, before your ride or run. Then weigh yourself when the workout is over to see what you weigh. Make sure you towel off your hair and any body sweat as well. Subtract your after weight from your before weight, and subtract any fluids you took in during your workout. This is how much weight you lost. Now divide that by the number of hours you worked out in order to find out how much weight you lose per hour. If you are losing more than 2% per hour, then you need to increase your fluid intake and or take in more electrolytes to help slow down fluid loss. Our nutrition staff can certainly help you with this if you have trouble!

5. Try to replicate your race simulations on a course similar to your A race!
Performing well during your most important race of the year comes down to more than just doing the training and having goals. Knowing the course topography is key and being able to train on a similar course, whether it be on a CompuTrainer or finding terrain similar to the course is key to doing well on race day.

Imagine if you could ride the actual course you’re racing on, or something similar to it. You’d know when to expect the harder parts of the course , when to be in the small ring, when to stand and you’d know when you’ll be able to drink and eat as well. Also, once you have test ridden this course a few times, you’ll know what your output is in terms of HR and Power and you’d be able to plan accordingly for your triathlon. Be prepared with course specific training. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it will make race day!

6. Ride your hard workouts on the trainer!
The biggest bang for your bike is being able to control your training environment. Knowing the pool is 25 yards and swimming at effort will result in time is easy. The same can be said for the track and running intervals there as well. But, on a bike, the same can’t be said for training on the roads. You have traffic, red lights, stop signs, wind, hills, uneven pavement and so on to deal with. This is why I’ve been such a big proponent of riding on the trainer for over a decade. It’s much easier and less time consuming to jump on your trainer, any time of day, and  get your key workouts done. Yes, there are times you’ll want to do a race simulation outside on something similar to your race course (see #5), but for the most part, learn to get the hard stuff done on the trainer, void of traffic, red lights and drivers who aren’t paying attention to the road.

7. Get stronger to go faster
Lastly one of the keys to going faster is being stronger. You can’t load stress onto your system unless it’s strong enough to handle it. Trying to run a fast 400 on the track without proper biomechanics is going to result in an injury sooner rather than later. Getting strength work in, even for 10 minutes a day, will result in a stronger, healthier and more resilient you. Here’s a quick circuit you can do to help:

Max Pull ups, 10-12 pushups, 10 jumps up to a bench, 5 burpees. 3 sets. Rest 1 minute between sets, but decrease the rest each week until you can eventually just do the all the sets consecutively.
Next set: 10 Burpees, step up to bench, bringing one leg to your chest, and dips.
Last set: Roman chairs (12 reps), plank for 30 seconds, and then 10x side lunges.

Following these 7 tips will have you looking at your season with renewed energy and ready to attack the season and race courses. Good luck and as always, if you have a question, shoot me an email and I’d be happy to answer your questions.

Mike Ricci is a Level III USA Triathlon Certified Coach and the 2013 USAT Coach of the Year.  He has been coaching endurance athletes since 1989. Mike founded D3 in Boulder, CO in 2000, and has slowly added top-notch, USAT certified coaches each year to handle the demand for high quality triathlon coaching. In the past decade, D3 Coaches have coached hundreds of athletes to their first triathlon and hundreds more to become Ironman Finishers. USAT  awarded D3 the job of writing the training programs for the USA World Championship Teams for six consecutive years.

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