Yes, we all know triathletes are a different breed. Jack of all trades and master of none is the common refrain. And this mentality often leads to an acceptance of personal limitations. Not being immune, I often find myself skipping that critical swim session, because I know I’m not “really” a swimmer, and I just can’t wait to get on the bike and pedal and run my way out of that hole I put myself in. It almost becomes a point of pride. The training becomes affected and I race with that mentality. For those unluckily enough to be great swimmers but terrible runners, I always feel the worst for you guys… its tough stuff finishing on your weakest event. And you know it, and I know it, and you know I know it. So it plays into how you train and race.
In training and coaching I see it most in talking about cycling or running while resting on the pool deck. Not a word about the swim. Conceding the hammer fest up the hill cause you’re really just a runner. While we all have our strengths, regardless of where it lies, when you’re on the bike, you’re a cyclist. Anyone driving by won’t see the difference. You’re blocking their way just as much as Local Pro Joe. Be what you are while doing and you get better at it. That whole fake it til you make it really works!
So stay in the moment. We either fear or dislike what is currently happening, attempting to just suffer through it, thinking to the future where we will be successful in our comfort zone, OR we fear what is coming and forget what we are good at doing. By being a swimmer during the swim, a cyclist during the bike, and a tough as nails runner during the run, we force ourselves to stay in the moment and stay true to that action. There is a reason we jet off on the bike still wearing a swim cap or skin suit, or tear off on the run with our pterodactyl helmets still on. Rushing to what comes next and skipping over the now has its own cost.
In terms of training, just thinking like a triathlete creates its own issues. We never come close to the high yardage or mileage of a dedicated single sport athlete. Most triathletes understand the time limitations to do so, but because we only hit up each sport a few times a week, the workouts tend to be high intensity “have to” workouts or recovery workouts (because we all do recovery workouts, right?). The repetition of similar training weeks means we are missing opportunities to push limitations and reinforces gaps in training. Most single sport athletes have a much better balance of easy to hard workouts, getting the benefits of each type. A great way to address this issue is to sprinkle in regular dedicated sport weeks, increasing the volume in a single sport, while reducing it in the others. Give it a go and mix it up. Be a swimmer for a week, a cyclist for a couple and a runner for another. You will naturally end up doing a wider variety of workouts in each sport, while being able to manage higher volume, without needing to increase overall weekly workout volume.
But don’t worry, no hurry…. I’ll still be swimming.
By: Coach Ben