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BritSwim Tri Tips #1

Triathlon training Muscat Oman Coach Karl Egleton

BritSwim launched its triathlon training programme last summer, under the fantastic Coach Karl Egleton. We've loved watching it grow and the athletes involved achieving personal bests and breaking their own boundaries when it comes to the sport, and we've also come to realise that tri is truly an addiction. All you alpha athletes out are no doubt keeping up with your training, but Coach Karl has some tips, insights, and inspiration to boost your spirits at a time when you can't necessarily be out doing the activities you love and need. 

Whether you're still working up to completing your first race, or are looking ahead to September's Salalah 70.3, you'll find advice that will help you get where you want to be. And remember, with regard to the current crisis: follow advice, train responsibly, and stay safe.

So, over to Coach Karl!

Train smarter, not harder
"When taking on new athletes for personal coaching, one of the first things I do is introduce a recovery week" says Karl. "So often, their fatigue levels are too high,  and they're burned out and stagnant from just doing the same training again and again. They've been adding more training volume week on week, as they don't know how else to improve."

That's misguided, advises Coach Karl.  "Your training should be varied and focused. With some expert advice, you'll be able to reduce the time you train and still maintain or improve your condition." You also need to work to build that variety in, and stick to it. "Every session you do should have a focus to it; don't get caught in the trap of doing whatever training exercise you happen to feel like."
Make sure you can cover your race distance in training
It sounds obvious, but Coach Karl says it's often missed. "If you want to enjoy your race, make sure you can do the distance in training first.  Whilst you may complete the race having not covered the distance, you will find it a lot more enjoyable and want to repeat the experience if you have done it previously in training."  Karl suggests "aiming for 120% of your race distance in training - so, for 70.3 90km ride, try and get a few 100-110km rides in before the race."
If there aren't going to be traffic lights or roadworks in your race, then try to avoid them in training. If your race is hilly, you need to do some hill work. If it is an open water swim, get in the open water to practice, and if wetsuits will be legal, practice in one. Too many triathletes fail to be specific enough to gain an edge, according to Coach Karl. "Try and train at the same time of day as the race will be, especially closer to the event. You'll help prepare your body for the relevant conditions, and also to work at a time when it may not normally want to."
Train your weaknesses not your strengths
"Everyone is guilty of this one, no matter their level of ability or even the sport in which they train" says Coach Karl. It's instinctive to  train your strongest discipline, as you find it easiest and probably have the most experience in it. But don't neglect your weaknesses, warns Karl. "You may gain very slight improvements training your strengths, but if you had spent that same time on your weakest discipline, you'd see greater gains, as there's more room for improvement."

It may be an individual sport but that doesn't mean you have to train alone
Whilst many find great solace in training alone, for others it can be an inhibitor to getting out and getting the miles in.  "Join up with a friend or group to help motivate you more, or join BritSwim Triathlon's Strava group, where you can gain inspiration from seeing what others are doing, and get motivational feedback on your efforts to keep you going - we're a supportive bunch." Coach Karl adds,  "Remember to still keep focus when training with others - if you're planning an easy recovery ride, make sure your friend doesn't think you're out to do max hill efforts."

The great indoors
Many triathletes begin the sport to be able to take in nature and everything the outside has to offer. But training inside, on a treadmill or bike trainer, has a host of benefits. This is of course particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing restrictions on groups and gatherings. Plus, it's much safer inside. At the time of publishing, Coach Karl is still recovering from four fractures to his pelvis, after a car hit him while he was training on his bike. "Not only is it safer," says Karl, "indoor training helps you to control the environment. Especially with the upcoming summer, there is nothing better than being inside feeling cold air whilst everyone else is out sweltering.  It also gives you a fantastic ability to train specific to your needs.  If you find you get bored or lose motivation easily, Zwift has been an absolute game changer for me and I thoroughly recommend it for both biking and running."

Stay safe, keep active, and join us soon for more triathlon training tips from BritSwim's Coach Karl.

Muscat, Oman