Triathlon Race Season Preparation
Let the race season preparation begin! Toronto Triathlon Club’s Tara Postnikoff shares how to get started as well proper recovery and hydration techniques for your triathlon training.
It’s time to commit to your training plan if you are going to race this summer. Identify your strengths and your weakness, how much time you have to commit and what your goals are for the race. A successful race is the result not of one specific workout you do or don’t do, but rather the consistent work you put in day in and day out for the weeks and months leading up to your race. You don’t have to fit your life around training to complete your first triathlon but working exercise into your life can help you reach your goal. Look for ways to simplify if spare time is an issue. Try biking or running to or from work a couple days a week or try to include exercise it a family activity. Scheduling your workouts as you do your meetings and other commitments will also help to ensure you fit them into your schedule. When things are left to change, usual the chance is that something else will come up. And if a lack motivation is where you struggle then find a training buddy (in person or virtual) or a training group, community or club to help keep you accountable and having fun. It’s often more fun to workout with a group as you can all go through the challenges together.
TAKE TIME FOR RECOVERY!
We can’t go hard all the time, even if we want to! Without breaks or periods of rest the body doesn’t repair itself and can’t get stronger. The recovery phase is where our bodies and our minds adapt to the stress placed on them.
It’s hard though! Once we get into a rhythm with our workouts who wants to stop? After all it took awhile to get started in the first place. Sometime we fear recovery. Perhaps it’s the fear of having to start again, fear of losing fitness, fear that we haven’t done enough. This fear takes over and we lose focus on the fact that rest and recovery is part of training and part of improving. Just like the mind and body needs sleep daily to reset our circuits and take care of clean-up and repair, our bodies need regular periods of low/no intensity, low/no volume and sometimes day’s or weeks off to fully recover.
While there is no one sized fits all approach, generally speaking most people can benefit from:
- Recovery day: 1 day off every 7-14 days,
- Recovery week: 4-7 days of less intense less volume at least once per month in their training cycles,
- Recovery cycle: a full cycle of unstructured or different training once per year or training phase.
ENHANCED RECOVERY TECHNIQUES:
Various techniques exist for enhancing / improving or attempting to improve recovery in addition to pure rest. These include but are not limited to: hot and cold baths, compression garments, massage and other manual modalities, nutrition strategies, supplementation, topical creams and stretching. While some techniques show more success than others in terms of enhancing recovery a key to note is that we might not always want to enhance or accelerate recovery in order to improve performance. Strenuous workouts breakdown the body and it is through the repair process that the body improves and adapts to this stress. If we continually super-compenstate this process with outside assistance (things other than balance nutrition, hydration and rest) the body doesn’t learn to adapt in the same manner and can potentially lead to a decrease in performance.
Things to consider:
- As we age our bodies usually require more frequent periods of rest.
- Women recover differently then men.
- Training environments such as heat or altitude will change the need for recovery.
- Don’t over supplement or aim to enhance recovery through recovery techniques all the time. Rather support the body with balance nutrition and periods of rest most often, and save the enhanced recovery techniques for specific times such as competition phases where you need to perform and recover multiple times at an accelerated rate.
- If you don’t make time for recovery, your body will make sure that you do, usually in the form of illness or injury.
- Proper recovery is part a key factor in improving / maximizing your athletic performance.
Water Up! All the cells in you body are made up of water. Water is necessary for all of bodies functions. Without water we die. Water is necessary for transport of nutrients and elimination of wastes. It’s key for staying focused and can prevent headaches and fatigue. Generally speaking aim for 2.0-3.0L of water and herbal teas, daily, maybe more if you are exercising or training more than 2 hours per day on a regular basis.
Tips for success:
- If you are not quite at the goal of 2 L per day yet, start slow and increase water intake slowly.
- Set an alarm in your smart phone or calendar or just write it down in your journal
- Start your morning off with a glass of water before you have any thing else
- Keep a jug or bottle of water on your desk at work so you see it and remember to drink.
- Low on energy? Drink water before that next cup of coffee.
- Headache? Drink water before you try that pain / headache medication.
- Feeling hungry and you just ate? Drink a glass of water and see if it passes.
- Like alcohol? Drink water between each drink so you don’t dehydrate as fast.
- Don’t like plain water? Add in fresh lemon, lime, cucumbers, mint, basil, strawberries or try herbal teas to change the flavour and spice it up a bit. Substitute 1 glass of water for some sparkling mineral water.
WATER & EXERCISE:
You need water for energy. Water enters the Krebs Cycle (Grade 10 bio anyone?) 3 times as we create ATP. No water = no energy!
Fact: Thirst isn’t perceived until you are 1-2% dehydrated while exercising, so drinking according to thirst may not be your best practice especially if you aren’t used to it.
Make water your ticket to train! Make sure you start all workouts in a hydrated state. When dehydrated you can’t perform at your best and you increase risk for injury, such as muscle tears or strains. Water and adequate hydration is necessary to maintain core body temperature, provide joint lubrication and shock absorption as well as to maintain heart rate. When you are dehydrated your performance suffers!
- Consume 2-4 cups of water in the 2-4 hour window leading up to your workout.
- For workouts lasting longer than 60 minutes make sure you carry water and consume 1/2 to 1 cup of water every 15 – 20 minutes to prevent dehydration or approximately 500-750ml/hr
- Consume another 2-4 cups of water in the 2-4 hour window post workout to replace the water lost during exercise. If you have been training longer than 3 hours, you may want to consider adding sodium aka salt or electrolytes to your during workout and post workout water.