We all like to start the New Year on a positive note and set some resolutions to better ourselves in the year ahead. Let’s look at some things you can do to improve your fitness and performance in the year ahead.
- Plan your next day the night before. We can all have the best intentions to get our training done but life can very easily get in the way – by planning your day and having a slot set aside for training it’s much easier to get it done. I find making the effort to get up early and get the session done makes the day a lot more relaxed and sessions get done more consistently than if left until the evening.
- Work on Sleep. While training is vital, the recovery from training is where the magic happens and is an area a lot of us miss out on. Think about changing your evening routine to promote better sleep. You can do this by making sure you’re in a dark environment for an hour before you plan to fall asleep, also try to turn off all electric gadgets during this hour to allow the brain to calm down and relax. You will find it much easier to get to sleep and also your body will produce more recovery hormones when you fall asleep.
- Roll. Training hard is going to take its toll on your body, we may all have the best intensions to get regular massage but it rarely happens in reality. By investing in a foam roller for home you can get the benefits of massage easily at home with just a few minutes work. Aim to get on the roller 3 times a week for 10minutes and you will notice a big difference in the quality of your muscles and the reduction in stiffness and soreness following training.
- Identify where you need help. We all have weaknesses and the key to taking the next step in performance is making your weakness a strength. Have a look at how you have performed in the past and find what is letting you down and then look for some professional help to overcome this. For many, swim technique is the biggest thing holding them back, bad technique will not only slow you down but it will also mean you use a lot more energy than required to overcome the swim leg and this energy deficit will affect the remainder of the race. Another possibility is bike fit, if you find you just can’t get comfortable on the bike then it would be worth investing in a professional fit to get you in the right position for both comfort and power.
- Plan your finances. Triathlon is an expensive sport and there are so many things to spend your money on when looking for speed. There is a well known saying in the sport of “all the gear no idea” so make sure you do your research and make those pennies count towards your end result. A great example of this can be the latest and greatest disk wheel over your one year old wheel, the advertising may tell you you’re going to gain minutes from the new technology but have a closer look at the reality and the difference will be next to zero. If all the amazing advances in technology were real we would be seeing huge drops year by year in the results of the bike leg in triathlon but the reality is over the past 10 years we have actually seen very little difference. One gem of wisdom I received personally from a former pro cyclist who has come into triathlon was regarding the soles of bike shoes, we all feel pushed to pay for the best and stiffest carbon soled shoes we can afford but he swears by the plastic soled shoes for both better performance on the bike and better running off the bike. This is even more important if you’re an athlete who suffers lower leg tightness or injuries. Speak to the performance athletes in your area about what they would recommend before you believe everything in the adverts.
- Nutrition. We are seeing more and more information on nutrition and more and more sports nutrition companies come to the market which is just further complicating the issue for us as athletes. Make it your plan for the first couple of months of the year to experiment with nutrition and find what works for your body during training, once you have this stop researching and reading about and just stick with what works, tune out the noise and you will benefit greatly. Training and race day nutrition is not complicated; it’s just a process of finding what works for you as an athlete and sticking with it. As an example if you have a healthy balanced diet you do not need to worry about all the vitamins and protein drinks out there on the market that are basically meal replacements, on the other hand if you have bad nutrition habits and a busy lifestyle these products could work very well for you and enhance your performance – find what you need!
- Listen to your body! At the first sign of trouble STOP and address the issue, too many times athletes push through little niggles and it just escalates to a big injury and many missed training hours. By getting on top of an issue as soon as possible we reduce the possibility of it becoming chronic and we can get a routine in place to prevent the issue reoccurring. For example if you regularly suffer from sore knees and happen to feel a sharp pain while out running, stop and head home, try to find what is causing the issue and see how to fix it, more than likely an overly tight muscle or an inactive muscles will be the cause. A good physio can help you identify this and give you exercises to prevent further issues. If you just push through and continue to run you can cause chronic inflammation that may linger long after the true cause of the injury has been taken care of. If you have suffered from chronic injuries to any area of the body make sure you have a routine in place to address the issue and keep on top of it. It’s not just something to do when you have a problem it’s something that needs to become part of your life to stop relapses!!
- Family. Lastly make sure you consider your family and significant others when planning your year and races as they will make many sacrifices over the year for you and your sporting goals. Choose a race destination that will be both exciting for you and a great destination to take the family.
By : Coach Alun “Woody” Woodward | www.ironguides.net
For : SWIMBIKERUN.ph