There are a million posts about triathlon training out there including some great vlogs, blogs, and podcasts. I’ll eventually share what I use but for now, I’ll share what I think is the most interesting to me point of learning I’ve encountered: Data.
Data in training is interesting to me because to the layman it seems simple: To get better at swimming, swim more, swim better. To get better and cycling, cycle more, cycle better. We often equate improvement to technique and effort. This is absolutely true. In a sport like triathlon though, you must also train smarter. Training smarter means letting data drive some of your decisions instead of your perception of what to do.
The first place this is interesting is in deciding which of the three disciplines to work on. You, of course, want to train all three, but you can usually spend more time focusing on one or the other. Choosing how to prioritize that time can be interesting. First and foremost, you need to be able to complete your event at all. I’m doing a sprint, and I currently cant swim 750 meters, so that’s what I’m working on the most. I can bike 17 miles and I can run a 5k just fine. The decision is easy then. Once I can swim the distance comfortably it gets more interesting. There are three key things I am looking at in deciding what to focus on:
- Time Improvement
- How much time off my race time does this improvement get me?
- Efficiency Improvement
- By improving this discipline can I go at the same pace but use less energy thereby letting me work harder in my other disciplines in order to improve my time.
- Certain exercises take a greater toll than others depending on your body composition. Working and focusing too much on one discipline might cause injury or create an imbalance that impacts the other disciplines.
An example scenario:
Getting 10% faster in the swim is worth less to me than getting 5% faster on the bike because the bike is a larger portion of the race. If getting 10% faster on the bike ALSO makes me 5% slower on the run and swimming would make me 3% faster, then swimming is the better choice.
I’ll be experimenting with my training load and my measurable improvement in each discipline to see what types of training seem to have different impacts. The start is by baselining. I’ll be starting with the following training plan: 8-10 hrs/week 40% hrs swimming 40% hrs cycling 20% hrs running
My Running % is so slow because I have been having some knee pain while running and so I am attempting to increase my injury prevention by running less until the problem resolves. My first change will be to see what impact increasing my running time while keeping the other two the same to get to 33% on each discipline changes them. As I gain swimming fitness its share should drop slightly over time as swimming is the smallest part of a race.
To Test: I’ll be testing my average 100 yard swim time over all swim workouts, my average 5k time over all workouts, and for cycling, I have a 29.8k cycling route that will be my test of cycling improvement. I’ll look at time and other measurements on the bike to see. At the end of this week, I’ll post my first set of results. Training starts on Mondays so each Monday I should have a new data set.