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Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years
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I’m curious about what lessons everyone has learned over their years of competing. This year I completed my first Ironman (Wisconsin, unfortunately…) and have been compiling a list in my phone of all the takeaways that I’ve had from all of my races and training sessions. I did well in my age group for most races and am ready to turn it up a notch this off-season heading into my second Ironman next year.

Any thoughts/takeaways/lessons learned that people have had that have proven to be very helpful?


A couple lessons of my own from this year that stand out is the importance of speed work and intervals, more mid-long distance runs (10-20 miles), and do more brick runs off of the bike. I refused to swim in a pool all summer to help acclimate myself to OWS, but I’m confident that I can do most of my swims in the pool next summer with maybe only one OWS per week.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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It's all cumulative.
Unless you're racing, always keep some energy in reserve.
No one wins races because they go super deep on any one session (or a week of sessions)
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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This is a perfect question to everyone’s favorite pro.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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1. Everyone is individual. Find the recipe that works best for you.
2. Enjoy your training and make it fun. That's the best path to consistent training.
3. Priority number 1 is to get the training completed. Regardless of specifics and metrics. Just fit it into your life first. Then worry about details.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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Ive been involved in Triathlon since 2015, ive been learning lot of stuff, but the worst thing is when you unlearn somethign and you need to learn it again.

My weekness is the daily nutrition, I cant get the calories from good source when Im training and everytime I go to the nutricionist i feel like a novice in the sport again...
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Rubeniri25] [ In reply to ]
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Consistency, consistency, consistency...including re/pre-hab...
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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It's 100% mental.............except for the physical part.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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My biggest takeaway is that training for open water swimming in open water doesn't help. Training for open water swimming is better done in a pool.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [miklcct] [ In reply to ]
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miklcct wrote:
My biggest takeaway is that training for open water swimming in open water doesn't help. Training for open water swimming is better done in a pool.

Interesting. I have found just the opposite.

My biggest lesson has been that once you train and do a big race let your body recover. After completing my last full distance race I just kept training without a break to let myself recover. It caused some pretty difficult "overtraining" issues.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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-Having some sort of meal plan is important. Whether it's meal prep, daily Crockpot meals, etc. - know what you'll be eating and eat a lot of it

-Don't get complacent with following your training plan. It all adds up - even the shorter workouts

-Go to bed early (9pm) and wake up early to run before work

-More track/speed/interval work

-Come prepared to race in any type of weather

-Don't mindlessly swim/bike/run - be intentional with your workouts and training

-Brick runs after every bike workout

-Learn how to fuel when you train. You can't just train off of water alone. Tons of fuel on the bike.

-You cannot become competitive without learning how to swim faster. You need to get over your swim/race anxiety if you plan on competing.

-Do not neglect squats and deadlifts in the off-season

-Clean your bike after every ride

-Run and bike hills. Repeats are boring, but necessary. It's amazing how much hill work helps.

-Don't do it for Strava. Delete it, silence it, whatever. Train like a maniac and don't tell anyone. Let your races speak for themselves.
Last edited by: BigDoeRehab: Oct 5, 22 9:16
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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For the IM distance, the big things that I have learned are as follows:

1. In order to have a successful marathon, and thus to be happy with my whole race, I had to get better on the bike. In my first 2 full IMs I was burning too many matches getting through 180k of cycling that I ended up walking a good deal of the marathon. Solution for me was to up the bike training.
2. It's essential to dial in a nutrition & hydration strategy. Too much Gatorade Endurance gives me gut rot, so I alternate Gatorade with water at each aid station on the bike course. I also want some 'real' food along the way so for the past two full IMs that I have done, I make a PB&J sandwich to eat while on the bike. I also take salt tabs both on the bike and on the run. My point is to find what works for your body and practice it in training.
3. The best training plan for me is one that I create myself based on my available time, my current health & fitness, and my race goals. While I use the fundamentals espoused in books like 80/20 Triathlon, I have found that each athlete's optimal training plan has an N = 1.

Best of luck as you train for your 2nd full IM in 2023.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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I've never understood why so many people find magic in bricks... Is there any evidence it's actually beneficial?

@floathammerholdon | @partners_in_tri
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [cloy] [ In reply to ]
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For me, the magic is I'm already hot and sweaty, so I might as well go run for a few minutes. But, maybe like you, I've not had an issue of feeling like I can't run when I get off the bike.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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Xavier500 wrote:
I’m curious about what lessons everyone has learned over their years of competing. This year I completed my first Ironman (Wisconsin, unfortunately…) and have been compiling a list in my phone of all the takeaways that I’ve had from all of my races and training sessions. I did well in my age group for most races and am ready to turn it up a notch this off-season heading into my second Ironman next year.

Any thoughts/takeaways/lessons learned that people have had that have proven to be very helpful?


A couple lessons of my own from this year that stand out is the importance of speed work and intervals, more mid-long distance runs (10-20 miles), and do more brick runs off of the bike. I refused to swim in a pool all summer to help acclimate myself to OWS, but I’m confident that I can do most of my swims in the pool next summer with maybe only one OWS per week.

1. Training is all about consistency. The individual components of your training plan don't matter as much as most people think. A good deal of volume with a bit of high intensity thrown in will get the job done. What matters is that you S, B, and R regularly week after week, month after month. The best training plan is the one you can execute for a very extended period without missing workouts.

2. Nutrition is critical, individual, and requires practice.

3. Get strong on the bike and pace it properly. It doesn't matter how fast a runner you are if your legs are spent when you get off the bike. Great runners don't walk that much faster than average runners.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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Don't copy what others do. You're not them.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [cloy] [ In reply to ]
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cloy wrote:
I've never understood why so many people find magic in bricks... Is there any evidence it's actually beneficial?

The main advantage for me with bricks is time efficiency. It's way easier for me to tack a 20-30 minute run on to the end of a bike session than it is to find another training slot in my week. I think it also helps psychologically to get used to how the legs feel at the start of a run off the bike. In terms of pure training effect, I would imagine running fresh would be better for run training, it just isn't always an option for me time-wise. Now if I could win the lottery and retire early, I think I would separate my bricks into two workouts, with compression boots, jacuzzi spas, recovery shakes, and massages in between...
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [samtridad] [ In reply to ]
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Philosophical song lyric for Kona tomorrow:

It's time that I let go, of the things I can't control
This path that I have taken, is the only one I know
It took so long to get here, and I've got so far to go
So I will take what I can get, in matters of the soul


Or in other words.... BE HERE NOW
Last edited by: Velocibuddha: Oct 5, 22 16:49
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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Do not overcook the bike.

Do NOT overcook the BIKE.

DO NOT OVERCOOK THE BIKE.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Rocky M] [ In reply to ]
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Rocky M wrote:
Don't copy what others do. You're not them.

this x1000. I've learned over the years that asking others about their preferences is useless - anything from wetsuit preferences, bike setup, clothing choices, nutrition, etc. I used to ask seasoned triathletes I knew all sorts of questions until I finally realized that this sport is beyond individual.

"Don't copy what others do. You're not them."

That is stated perfectly and resonates with me 100%.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [cloy] [ In reply to ]
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cloy wrote:
I've never understood why so many people find magic in bricks... Is there any evidence it's actually beneficial?

I don’t really understand it either and have started limiting mine. I am injury prone so the most successful way for me to show up on race day is to run on fresh legs as often as I can.

The caveat is getting big endurance days in. I don’t see much use in doing more than 6hr on the bike because of diminishing returns and boredom and I think it can be helpful to have bigger days in prep for an ironman, which bricks can help with. I haven’t done an IM yet so haven’t written the training but I may do some bigger days with long 3 sports to get those big tss days in.

Cat 2 Roadie w/ Aspiring Tri Ambitions | | My Strava | | '22: AZ 70.3 & IW 70.3, '23: IM CdA | | Phoenix, AZ
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [BigDoeRehab] [ In reply to ]
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this x1000. I've learned over the years that asking others about their preferences is useless//

Or maybe you are just asking the wrong people, the wrong questions?? There is always some value to be found in other peoples experiences, trick is to be able to sort and tell which ones are most relevant to your situation. As a general rule, there is a standard way to do things, within some inner and outer boundaries. If you think you are going to be the one person that will do better outside those limits, probably the reason you are not entered in the pro or elite AG divisions here... (-;
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [samtridad] [ In reply to ]
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samtridad wrote:
cloy wrote:
I've never understood why so many people find magic in bricks... Is there any evidence it's actually beneficial?


The main advantage for me with bricks is time efficiency. It's way easier for me to tack a 20-30 minute run on to the end of a bike session than it is to find another training slot in my week. I think it also helps psychologically to get used to how the legs feel at the start of a run off the bike. In terms of pure training effect, I would imagine running fresh would be better for run training, it just isn't always an option for me time-wise. Now if I could win the lottery and retire early, I think I would separate my bricks into two workouts, with compression boots, jacuzzi spas, recovery shakes, and massages in between...

With bricks you also don't need a warm-up for the run so can get straight into intervals if needed. Whereas if running fresh would need at least 10 mins warm-up.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [Xavier500] [ In reply to ]
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You know those exercises you do when you get injured? The point is to do them before you’re injured
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [BigDoeRehab] [ In reply to ]
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BigDoeRehab wrote:
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-Clean your bike after every ride

.

Looks guiltily to see if my bikes were reading this over my shoulder.
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Re: Triathlon Lessons Learned Over The Years [ In reply to ]
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* Train consistently. Cramming doesn't work.
* Strength train and focus on strength and mobility.
* Don't ignore injuries. They come back to bite you when you don't. I would rather lose a month of training while addressing an injury than lose a year of training.
* Avoid becoming obsessed with others training. Focus on yourself and your training.
* Focus on your weaknesses.

Just my .2c.

KK
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