Wake Up To The Power Of One
Proven Endurance Tips for First-Time Triathletes
Signing up for your first triathlon takes guts, nevermind doing the race itself! Once you hit that register button, your mind probably kicked into overdrive — You need to race not one, but three races, in one go.
Don’t worry — we’ve been there, as have many athletes before (and after) us! The key to triathlons is to remember that it isn’t a sprint, it’s an endurance race! The path to getting to the start line is the same. Not to be a cliche, but triathlons really are about the journey.
“If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you’ve won your race.” — Dave Scott
Here are a few proven endurance tips for first-time triathletes to carry you through to the finish line.
Master your mindset.
One of the biggest challenges of a first triathlon is getting yourself to the starting line, not the finish line. There’s no way around how tough the training and the race will be — so mastering your mindset is the first step to building endurance. In fact, we recently wrote about a study that showed athletes who use mindfulness have longer exhaustion times. So, if you want to talk about endurance, you want to talk about mindset, too. Here’s why:
When you’re getting into the swing of training, it’ll be easy to pull out excuses as to why you should blow it off. You’re tired from the last session, the weather isn’t great for a run, the lanes at the pool were full… Maybe you regret signing up in the first place or are doubting yourself! You’re going to need to practice some serious self-discipline and motivation to ensure you put in the training hours required for your race.
The next place mindset and mindfulness come in handy will be at the starting line. You’re nervous, excited, and surrounded by other racers who are likely geared-up to the nines and looking confident. The truth is, they’re feeling that same adrenaline-fueled mix of nerves and excitement. Remember to race your own race and set this one, simple goal: Finish the race to the best of your ability.
Finally, be aware of those self-sabotaging thoughts during a long session or even the race itself. Maybe you’re comparing yourself to other athletes, are dreading a particular section, or just feel like giving up in general. You need to be able to recognize those thoughts, tame them, and push on through. There’s nothing that will kill endurance like your own self-saboteur.
Food is fuel.
It’s no surprise that what you eat will affect your endurance. And, training for a triathlon, you need to make sure you’re eating right. When putting your body through long stints of exercise, it will mostly be running on what’s called glycogen — stored energy converted from carbohydrates. But, you’ll also need to ensure you have the right amount of protein for peak performance during training and recovery (but not for bodybuilding), as well as everything else your body needs to best prepare for the race. For what to eat before and after workouts, check out this blog post about optimizing your pre and post-workout meals.
In short, the triathlete diet is unique to what you’re going to ask from your body, and, as someone new to training and racing, it will be helpful to make a schedule and meal plan to ensure you’re getting what you need — especially as training ramps up towards the big day.
Some of the main notes are to keep yourself well-hydrated, monitor your macros (carbs and protein), and ensure you’re eating REAL, non-processed foods. How will you know you’re doing the nutrition part right? Both your performance and recovery won’t feel bogged down. A major part of your food consideration will be the race day meal. Make sure you’ve tested your way through a few options to know what feels best (and won’t throw your stomach off!) before race day!
For a closer look at an endurance plan for eating, check out this breakdown from Men’s Journal.
Make a training plan (and stick to it).
The thing with endurance training is that you need to build it up slowly over time. That means you’ll need to create a stepped training plan that gradually gets you up to being race-ready.
While you can find plenty of other athletes’ plans online, you can also build your own to suit your needs. Building a plan will also motivate you to research the do’s and don'ts of training for endurance, as well as help you stick to what you’ve set (as long as you’ve made it a reasonable plan).
Here are the top things that you’ll need to consider for your training schedule:
- Volume: Number of hours you’ll work out per week
-This will increase gradually over time, with recovery hours.
-Number of Workouts
-Intensity will grow over time and the number can be increased or decreased as your endurance improves.
-The number of workouts will depend on your current fitness level, what areas you need to work on, and the volume.
-Do you need more swimming? Block workouts? Make sure you know what you’re setting out to do each day.
-Use a calendar
-Ensure you’re making time for training by writing it in your calendar (in pen), and that the training days are spread out to include recovery periods.
One of the best parts about a triathlon is that you’re entering a new community of accomplished and motivated athletes. The best way to stick to completing a triathlon is to do it with a friend (or a few!) or join a group. You will hold each other accountable, maybe enjoy some friendly competition, and you’ll have someone who has been through it to celebrate with!
P.S. Part of thinking like one of the greats means celebrating the entire way, not just at the finish line! Make sure you (and your training pals) take time to enjoy hitting your training goals, too.
Get the right gear.
You don’t need every piece of technical gear or even the absolute best gear to complete a triathlon. However, good gear goes a long way, especially when you’re going to be getting VERY familiar with it over the course of your training and race. Make sure your gear fits well and does the job you need it to — Otherwise, that endurance piece will be harder than it has to be.
What is endurance training if not constant rehearsal for the big day? Make sure you’re consistent in your training, eating, and, most importantly, in your enjoyment! The sense of accomplishment you can feel from wrapping up your first event is exhilarating. While you might not love it every step, pedal, or stroke of the way, you should hopefully get some kind of fun out of it all. If you’re looking for the right technical apparel to get you through training, don’t forget to check out our shop (with a triathlete-specific line coming soon!).
"For beginners, the most important thing is to have a major goal, such as finishing your first triathlon, based on minigoals for training… And setting your major goal, maybe even registering for a race you want to complete, will keep you honest. You know you have to be ready on that race day, so that will keep you motivated and working on your minigoals." — Michellie Jones
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