Beginners, Podcast

Q&A: Your triathlon questions answered | EP#12

 April 13, 2017

By  Mikael Eriksson

Q&A: Your triathlon questions answered | EP#12

Listener questions and answers. I answer some of the triathlon questions you have been sending in over the last few weeks.

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • How to handle training and recovery for masters athletes.
  • Getting started with triathlon swimming.
  • Too much riding in your training plan?
  • Balancing family, work, and training for long-distance triathlons.


Age, recovery and training

01:40 -

I find it challenging with age, making a transition from a whippet youngster to an old git and the amount of recovery now needed compared to what I used to need. I find running a lot more difficult than I used to but I am putting much more into the bike particularly on the Turbo trainer.

I want a higher base level so that I can join a club. I appreciate that I can join any level. Only pride is making me wait a couple more months. As soon as I have this, I know it will help immensely.

I have never been on social media but the wealth and depth of information on your website may be the deciding factor in opening an account. Your passion for what you have put together is inspiring.

  • Age is definitely a challenge for a lot of triathletes and something that was talked about a lot in Episode 1 with Joe Friel.
  • Keep doing high intensity intervals, VO2 max type effort, because that will help you with the hormonal side of things and the release of growth hormones. It helps maintain your aerobic capacity, and that is what declines the most with age and not your endurance.
  • You need to prioritize your recovery. Be diligent with your sleep and proper nutrition at the right time so you can get the most out of your recovery.
  • Lift weights. It is really great for ageing athletes. It has great hormonal benefits, and it maintains your lean body mass. With age, it gets more difficult to stay lean and keep a low body fat percentage. It affects you when you do sports because you are carrying that weight.
  • Try 10-day training cycles instead of 7-day cycles. It can be a good idea to not try to cram your training into 7 days because the training stress density will be slightly lower.
  • Don’t let pride stand in the way of you joining a club.​

Getting started with triathlon swimming

6:31 -​

Swimming is very difficult for me at present as I have just started and never did it through school or after. I also haven’t participated in triathlon at this stage due to the swim.

I just started about a month and a half ago. I just got to a 1500 meter swim with minimal stops.

I have been running for about a year and a half, completed a couple of half marathons and one marathon last year. I am usually a mountain biker but starting to ride on the road a little more.

I am riding about 2 times a week, approximately 150km. I run twice per week, about 20 to 30. I swim twice a week, 2,500m in total. Any help is welcome but I need to get more technical info for each sport so I can work on technique.

  • It is great to hear that you are starting out in triathlon. You are up for some good times. I think you made great progress in your swim so far. Going from nothing to swimming 1500 meters with minimal stops is nothing to be laughed at.
  • For swimming in particular, I would strongly advise you at this early point to get a good instructor to be on deck and get at least four lessons, with one lesson per week for a month. Then you add a couple of your own sessions per week where you are working on those things you have learned from that instructor. Seek out a really good swimming coach who is very knowledgeable in triathlon swimming because it is different compared to coaching competitive pool swimmers.​
  • Swimming in triathlon is not a breath holding contest. It is about who gets to T1 fastest. So don't fall for the all too common trap of trying to breathe on every 3rd or every 5th stroke. Breathe on every 2nd stroke.
  • It's not a distance per stroke contest either. Distance per stroke is sort of a myth, it is not about who takes the least amount of strokes but who gets there fastest. If you can get to T1 fast with a higher stroke rate than others, that's perfectly acceptable.
  • You can also send video to swimming coaches and have it analysed but still getting a coach is your best option.

How-to guide: How to get started in triathlon swimming for beginners.

12:10 -

  • You overall structure looks good. You may try alternately reducing your amount of runs considering you have a strong running background. Your bike rides seem to be long at 150km per week in two rides. I would say one long ride in two hours is fine with the other ride being one hour of structured interval workout like a sweet spot workout. This could be 85 to 90 percent of your functional threshold power. This kind of interval will be beneficial for you.​

Balancing family, work, and long-distance triathlon training

13:38 -​

When you have a family, a job and you try to balance your training with a high commitment for long distance triathlon, where is the limit?

  • It is impossible to say exactly. It depends on the circumstances. What I know and you know of course, is that you can’t sacrifice your job and your family. Things that are not triathlon impose constraints on the amount of training that you can do. So you need to know realistically how much training you can do. This is not what you can possibly do if you get really stressed and micro manage every single minute of your day in one single week because if you do this for a very long time, you will probably burn out.​
  • What you should try to do is take another approach and think about how much time do you actually have for training and then start figuring out how to maximize that available time.
  • In Episode 10, which was about time management, I talked about how you can find more time for training and you can do some of those things but as I said, micro managing minutes is probably not the right way to go. Try to find a realistic amount of time that you can put in your week on a regular basis and keep it week in week out with the exception of recovery weeks. Then think about how you can optimize this amount of training. This is something that we will talk about with Matt Dixon in our next episode.
  • You don’t need to do massive volumes to be an Ironman or long distance triathlete. You can do it in a very limited amount of training time. If you don’t know how to structure your training for optimal performance, you can go watch my Effective Triathlon Training Blueprint video series. You may also send me another email so that I can give you specific advice.
  • If you really want to optimize the training time that you have available, then I would suggest that you get a coach to work with individually.

17:09 -

If you are still stuck on Turbo trainers, which I am to an extent but probably not too much longer, go to Youtube and look up the Super League Triathlon broadcasts.

It is a race that takes place in Hamilton Island, Australia, with 24 of the world’s best triathletes from both long and short course triathlons.

It is basically a 3-day stage race with the first day being a triple mix with three races and they mixed up the order of the different disciplines of triathlon for each race.

Then they had an equalizer on the second day with a time trial and other cool stuff. Then an eliminator race on final day where people got eliminated and there were a few different stages in that race and only those who placed best get to continue.

Links and resources

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Mikael Eriksson

I am a full-time triathlon coach, founder of Scientific Triathlon, and host of the top-rated podcast That Triathlon Show. I am from Finland but live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Please contact me if you have feedback on the podcast or want to make suggestions for improvement or send in a question for a Q&A episode.

If you are a long-time listener and appreciate the value the podcast brings, please consider taking a couple of minutes for leaving a rating and review on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you can think of leaving a rating and review.

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