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BritSwim Trip Tips #3

Coach Karl tri training tips Muscat Oman BritSwim triathlon
Here we go, part three of triathlon training tips straight from BritSwim’s Coach Karl. Check out the others in the series here and here – we know you like it when things come in threes.

Injuries - Prevention is better than cure
Rest enough, get that diet sorted, and keep hydrated, and you'll have made great strides to preventing injury. in triathlon training. What else can you do? "Definitely invest in a foam roller and stretch bands, and in flexibility work. If you want to be more social - or find it hard to get motivated - then join a yoga class, to help work through all those key areas," advises Coach Karl. For any existing injuries, or any that do come up in your training, Karl urges you to keep on top of them, and address any further problems before they develop further with regular visits to a sports physio, osteopath or chiropractor.

Don't neglect the gym
Yes, triathlon involves swim, bike, and run - but the strength side is critical to improving your performance, for preventing injury.  Coach Karl says, "Remember: strength training, especially of the core, will assist in all three sports, so make sure to add it to your training if you haven't already."

Brick runs
Pure run training is an absolute necessity. But you'll also have to race with tired legs when you get off the bike, so don't neglect to practice that in training. "Brick runs are back-to-back sessions with little to no rest in between, to simulate the feeling of performing to the two disciplines back-to-back in a race. Initially, it will come as a shock - expect rubber or jelly legs, and looking rather strange as you struggle to put one foot in front of the other when you know you can do a huge amount better when running fresh." Coach Karl says these feelings will subside when you become more accustomed to it; and better have it happen in training than on race day. And you only need to run a short distance to get the training effect. "Try and run 1-2km after your next ride and see how it feels."

Yes, we are all individuals
Everyone's different, mentally and physically, and Coach Karl says this is why personalised - but not necessarily personal - training is the way to go with tri. "Get the most individualised coaching you can. It's not always possible or practical to get specialised individual coaching or plans, but try and seek these out where you can. Too many triathletes (mainly during swim sessions) attach themselves to a group for social or motivational reasons, but many times at the expense of faster improvements in the discipline." 

How will you be able to tell if your group is suited to you, if you're getting all you should be from attending? Karl explains: "If all of the swimmers in your lane are working to the same training cycle with the same focused races, and are all of equal or very similar pace, then this can work and is great for morale and motivation, especially on longer sets and many sessions focusing on CSS - provided you all have a similar Critical Swim Speed. But while these sessions may incorporate some drill work, it's unlikely that the drills are the most important to you, and will be the ones which will benefit your stroke the most. For example, the drill set could be focused on the catch phase of the stroke. If you're still unable to keep your feet at the surface and continually hold your breath, working on body position and breathing drills would be more beneficial." 

Just one or two private sessions, or an online video analysis session, with a qualified tri coach will reap great rewards. But if that's not something you can manage, a good coach will advise you on what you are doing wrong currently, and, crucially, provide you with sets of specific drills that are custom-picked to progress these points. How do you pick a good triathlon coach? "For group sessions, try and find a coach that gets to know you, your particular history and experience, and knows what you are working towards. A good coach is tailoring the session to your needs while keeping the group all still working as a cohesive unit, even if they're focusing on different technical areas through the session.  Our BritSwim swim sessions are limited on numbers for exactly that reason; lanes are split depending on who attends, to give everyone the optimum opportunity for progress towards their individual goals." Individually tailored training programmes are also definitely worth the investment. "It may take a few sessions of testing individually to collect data from the members of the group and make sure you have the correct training zones," says Coach Karl, "but then you have the knowledge that every session has been individually designed within the relevant cycle of a periodisation plan, to ensure you achieve your personal potential in the given timeframe." 

That's it for this tri-part series. We hope you found some useful information and motivation to apply to your sessions over the upcoming months and beyond.  And we have more posts on triathlon coming up! If you want to get in touch, or ask any questions, please feel free! Whether you're already training with BritSwim Triathlon or not, we're happy to give advice and help any way we can. 

And for all those of you already training with Coach Karl - 
Karl is super excited to see everyone’s efforts and workouts on Strava and Training Peaks during this difficult time, and cannot wait to see you all back in person once conditions allow. In the meantime - as always - he will continue to offer all of you advice and suggestions. You all know he's  committed and dedicated to making sure his athletes get the very best out of not only themselves but also the sport in general.  If you'd like more specific information on a certain aspect of triathlon training, Coach Karl will be taking requests for a more comprehensive set of articles, individualised to the needs of you the athlete, so please feel free to contact us if you have anything you'd like Karl to cover.

Muscat, Oman