Many triathletes — especially those new to the sport – are most concerned about the swim. To become proficient and improve their form, they spend a lot of time in the pool. That makes sense, but on race day, a big investment in swim training may lead to only a few minutes gain in the swim leg. On the other hand, targeted training on the bike and run can lead to big improvements and better overall finishing times.
For many triathletes, then , the goal of their training should be to gain enough competency in the swim to be able to get out of the water feeling good, and then make up time on the bike and the run. To hit this goal, more emphasis should be spent on running and cycling in training.
With so much time already spent training, most triathletes don’t feel like they could add any more work to their run or bike workouts. But the point is not to commit more time to training, it’s to commit to smarter training.
As I explain in Smart Marathon Training, targeted, purposeful training will yield greater gains than simply logging in hour after hour of moderate endurance training. Short, intense interval training can build greater capacity to deliver oxygen to working muscles (VO2Max) and longer, sustained hard efforts (tempo workouts) can build a greater capacity to maintain a hard pace over time, as on race day. Each of these training modes can be done once per week on both the bike and on the run.
While there is no avoiding the need to build a big endurance base through longer, moderately paced endurance training, targeting your workouts to get the most to of your effort is the most efficient, smartest way to go.
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