We have a lot to think about in training for a triathlon.
I break it down into four systems.
Each system must be functioning (or “firing”), or everything falls apart. Here they are:
- Mental state. Your mindset/psychology needs to be tended to on a regular basis. If you are going full blast through life and ignoring some of the places your mind goes, you may not be in control of your emotions. This is fundamental to your life & training.
- Sleep. This is your foundation to the physical part your training. Without getting enough sleep for a prolonged period, your body won’t respond well. Even not getting enough sleep for a night, things become much more difficult. You may be able to “hack” other parts of life, but sleep is not an area I would recommend cutting corners at all. (everyone is a little different, however, you may need more or less sleep than the average person at 7-9 hours per night).
- Nutrition. Right after sleep, nutrition will decide your fate in terms of having a good workout (or a good race) that day. Over-consuming carbohydrates is typically the biggest issue with triathletes and other endurance athletes (and most people in general!)
- Training. Over-training is often a bigger problem than under-training, but let’s focus on swimming specifically for this article. Because triathlon has 3 disciplines, it’s tempting to kind of treat them all the same. Or, train based on the distance of the race (i.e. if swimming is 10% of the distance, I’ll train swimming 10% of the time!).
But these are mistakes. If you’re not coming from a swimming background, you will need to learn the drills and techniques to succeed in a triathlon swim.
This means you will be spending more of your time swimming than running or biking- because there is more to learn. Also, even with more advanced swimmers, it’s easy to lose the “feel” for the water, much more so than to lose the feel for biking or running.
So skipping swim practice sessions will hurt a little more than missing your run. It’s important to keep these systems in mind on a day to day basis!
Befriend the water!