For some of us the next major long distance Triathlon event is just around the corner. Base training should have already been completed and you are now working on more specific bike workouts.
Nearly there, keep focused on your goal and you’ll be on your way to success. For the more beginner triathletes, keep going and gain as much experience as you can on the road before your race.
1. Master your bike handling skills
Cycling is probably the riskiest of the 3 disciplines in triathlons, but you can make it a lot safer by honing your bike handling skills like confident cornering, braking appropriately, balancing and control of the bike. Many beginner cyclists hops on the bike but cannot handle their bikes, making themselves and others in danger on the road.
Once you are comfortable and competent on the bike, you will be able to focus on your bike fitness training and racing. When you get into a tight situation on the bike, you’ll have the skills to manoeuvre your bike safely out of trouble.
2. Get a professional bike fit
To spend long hours on the bike, make sure you are comfortable on the bike in order to maximize efficiency while cycling. After paying thousands for your bike, spending a few extra hundred ringgit for a bike fit makes sound advice.
- For beginners, a bike fit will give you a good reference point on comfort and efficiency on your bike.
- For cyclists who have nagging injuries from cycling, checking your bike fit could help you solve your injury problem.
- A good bike fitter can translate your pains into a better setup for you.
- For the highly competitive cyclist, tweaking your bike position can give you more power on the bike.
3. Training with more accuracy
Given a choice of faster wheels or a Power Meter, I’d advice the Power Meter. The engine is always the most important part when it comes to speed and the power meter will help you develop a bigger engine (you).
Train as efficiently as possible and with a Power Meter and Heart Rate Monitor to know if you are hitting the right intensities for any workout. In races, you’ll be able to roll along at the prescribed power for your distance instead of hitting it out too hard or too easy.
4. Bike Survival Skills
For beginners, you’ll need to equip yourself with bike survival skills to equip yourself with the knowledge and equipment to change a flat tyre anytime and get back into the race with minimal stop time and finish the race!
Simple bike maintenance skills could save you from bike hell!
- Change a flat tyre
- basic brake and shifting adjustments,
- clean and lubricate your bike
- fixing a broken chain
For those who travel around the world to race, best to know how to dismantle and reassemble your bike so you can box your own bike. No need to plead with your bike shop to pack up your bike every time you travel!
5. Hammer hard but recover harder
Your body needs to recover as much as you need to train hard. If your body doesn’t recover enough before your next hard session, your body will be at a disadvantage and you’ll be even more tired and gain less from each workout.
- Try active recovery, it means doing a very deliberately slow, easy ride or go for a walk, swim or easy jog to get blood flowing and reduce inflammation.
- A massage helps to improve circulation, clear lactic acid and remove knots in muscles that hinder efficient movement and causes pain.
- A cheaper alternative to massage is using a foam roller to perform self myofascial release (SMR).
- Have an ice bath! Soak your legs in ice cold water for about 15 minutes within a half hour after your ride.
- Make sure you refuel and rehydrate well too after workouts.
- Eat within 20-30 minutes of your ride to ensure maximum recovery benefits.
- Have coconut juice for rehydration, its natural and replenishes lost electrolytes just as effectively as the manufactured isotonic drinks.
- Sleep, get your Z’s in! As you sleep, your body produces hormones that are critical to recovery. Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night.
6. Rocket fuel!
Want to ride long? Then you got to fuel right! In endurance riding, most often the limiting factor is not your training, but your nutrition. Your muscles can only pack in a limited amount glycogen and will deplete after a few hours of riding and its even faster for fluid stores.
While on long training rides:
- Eat a full meal the night before a long ride so muscles will be loaded with glycogen for the next morning. Emphasize carbohydrates in your meal.
- In the morning, make sure you eat breakfast. Cycling is a smooth motion so it’s ok to eat just before your ride without risking stomach upset. You could eat something like a banana or an omelette with chocolate drink.
- Keep eating and drinking during your long ride. Force yourself to drink before you feel thirsty.
- Drink a couple of gulps every 15-20 minutes of riding.
- Eat some carbs about every 30-40 minutes like a third of an energy bar or half a banana. Stop at a convenience store for some food, alternatively I know some of us like our wan tan noodles half way through a long ride!
- When you get back from your ride, rehydrate. I find drinking coconut juice after a ride very effective as it’s loaded with natural minerals and electrolytes to aid hydration.
- Get something to eat within 20-30 minutes of completing your ride. You’ll need the protein and carbs to refuel fast for the next day.
On a daily basis while training:
- Get roughly 60% of your daily calorie intake from carbohydrates (rice, pastas, potatoes).
- Eat fat too! The percentage of fat in your diet should be no more than 25-30% of total calorie intake. As you train, your body will get more efficient at using fat in your body as a fuel source and can help extend time to fatigue.
- Also take in about 1.5g of protein per kg of body weight per day. Proteins give you the building blocks of muscle growth and repair.
- Don’t forget your vitamins and minerals from veggies and fruit.
- Hydration wise, stay fully hydrated all the time. Even a drop of 2% of body weight will impair your performance.
When you train hard, your immune system suffers so sustain your immune system so you don’t fall sick and hamper your daily training.
Train hard and train smarter!
More about the author
Sue Teoh is an internationally certified personal trainer and triathlon coach, accomplished athlete excelling in competitive swimming. She is currently part of Malaysia’s National Triathlon team. Through coaching, she passionately helps people of all ages achieve their fitness and lifestyle goals.