Beginner, Improver, and Advanced Triathlete Training Talk with Simon Brierley | EP#64
A triathlon training talk with Simon Brierley. Tips for the beginner, improving, and advanced triathlete.
In this Episode you'll learn about:
- The attributes of successful (however you define success) age-group athletes
- Common mistakes age-group triathletes make
- Swimming tips for beginners, improvers, and advanced triathletes
- Cycling tips for beginners, improvers, and advanced triathletes
- Running tips for beginners, improvers, and advanced triathletes
About Simon Brierley
- His triathlon career started 28 years ago when he was living in Zimbabwe.
- Took part in a very small triathlon there to raise money for one of the top athletes in the country who had some equipment stolen when they were going to the world championships.
- Successfully got into the Zimbabwe triathlon team for the African Championships where he was crowned champion.
- He then headed to the UK to study for a BTEC in Sports Science in college over a two year period.
- Participated in the junior World Championships in Cleveland. He has been to the ITU world championships on 2 occasions. On another occasion, he went to the firefighter world championships.
- He then was racing full-time for a semi-professional team called Piglet Sports in Coventry where he had the opportunity to race the French Grand Prix as a junior on the team.
- In one of the races, he was in the top 20. Then continued to race in the UK British Triathlon Series.
- Afterwards, he became a fitness/health club manager in an establishment while dabbling a little bit in racing.
- Recently, he went back to full-time racing and training when he had an opportunity to gain his WTC Ironman professional license.
- For the past 7 years he has been running a coaching company called Paradise Triathlon Training
The attributes of successful (however you define success) age-group athletes
- A balance between family, work, social aspects, training, racing, and rest.
- A structured program that helps you know what you are actually doing and what you are trying to achieve.
- Get a coach who makes sure that you are working towards your goal.
Common mistakes age-group triathletes make
- Overtraining or gym junkie syndrome. This is when if you’re not crying and bleeding when coming back from training, you go back and do it again.
- This syndrome leads to inconsistency in which no matter what you try to do, you will not achieve your goal at the end of the day or complete an event.
- Not following the program that you’ve been assigned.
A top priority for age-group triathletes
- Getting a coach. A good coach will be to help eliminate overtraining, inconsistency, and if you don’t follow the program, the coach will certainly contact you.
- A good coach can give you that structure to the program and help you get that balance between the different priorities in life.
Swimming tips for beginners, improvers, and advanced triathletes
- Complete the distance that you will be swimming in that triathlon within training.
- For example, for a sprint distance triathlon in a pool, you should have completed a 750-meter pool swim before the event.
- If it’s open water, be familiar with the environment because it’s daunting going into the open water.
- Look for pool-based triathlon first and complete a distance of 300 meters (a typical supersprint swim distance).
- Have specificity by training within the open water environment and developing open water skills.
- Complete the distance within training, or even better, go over that distance.
- Look at your physical swim fitness. Are you fit enough to swim well? Do you have the speed, stamina, and strength to be able to do that?
- Introduce the technical aspect of the swim occasionally throughout the periodization.
- Specific open water skills including sighting drills, swimming around buoys, mass starts, deep water starts for 50 meters, entrances and exits, and swimming close to other people.
More on swim specificity
- If it’s a non-wetsuit swim, get yourself in the open water without your wetsuit on because it’s a totally different environment.
Cycling tips for beginners, improvers, and advanced triathletes
- Look to train the distance and possibly over.
- For example, if you have a 20-kilometre bike section for the sprint distance, then we’ll be doing 20k for your endurance sets within a specific section.
- You can go over. There’s no harm in this since there’s a lot less impact on your body compared to from running.
- How do you go faster? There’s a useful tool called the turbo trainer. It’s very popular for winter training and brick sessions.
- So you can turbo train inside during the winter and run outside on the road.
- From a fitness point of view, there’s a lot of reputable internet based software companies (TrainerRoad, Zwift) which will be able to guide you through a set program over a 6 to 8-week period during the winter to be able to improve your fitness.
- The best thing about these turbo trainers is that you can actually put your own bike on them, whereas some of the gym bikes are not adaptable and adjustable. You can’t set them up for the best efficient position for yourself.
- Get a bike fit. This will advance your performance by a huge amount.
Advice for athletes who have a good baseline fitness but are stagnated
- Consider getting a coach.
- Improve your bike handling and technical skills. For example, you have a new pair of aero wheels, if there is a crosswind, can you handle the bike?
- In the technical aspect, consider getting a power meter. This will show you if you are getting faster and fitter and if you’re progressing within a program.
- In the specificity aspect, join a local cycling group who has the knowledge and ability to be able to do a structured session or a chain-ganging session.
- Find a mid-week time trial in your local area. You can build a lot of strength and use this as a tempo session for your training program.
Running tips for beginners, improvers, and advanced triathletes
- We’re looking at not necessarily training the distance within one particular session, especially with the longer course triathlons. You don’t want to be running a 42k run in one of your endurance run sessions.
- Train at a maximum of 80% of the total distance that you will be actually running during the race.
- For shorter distances like sprint and Olympic, feel free to go out and maybe do a local park run. But don’t feel you have to go out and do a half marathon for half distance triathlon.
- Be very careful on how much time you are spending on your feet because running has the highest impact of the three sports.
- For example, if you are doing a 3-kilometre run every single day, your total volume is high impact which may fall in that relative overtraining bucket. Just be careful of how many times you would do a shorter run session over the week.
- Get yourself out to the park runs. You can even bike going there using an extended bike route. Then that’s a brick run training session.
- However, don’t do this in the winter unless you’re training for a race which is early January. So there is a time and place for doing those brick sessions.
- Get yourself on your turbo and run straight out from your turbo session.
- Increase your running speed through the use of track sessions by doing 400 meters repeats, 800 meters, 1 kilometre, up to a maximum of 2 kilometres.
- Join a local athletics club or get a group together.
- If you can’t get to an athletics track, go to a football field. You don’t have to be 400 meters exact. You can use one rep which is once around the football field.
- Train to pace rather than looking at your heart rate monitor or your perceived effort because your perceived effort can lie to you.
- Being an advanced athlete, you should be in a position that you know how your body responds.
- Be more specific. What is your 5k, 10k, half-marathon pace? What should I be running my 400 meter, 800 meter reps on?
- There are formulas that can calculate the type of pace that you should be running at in training.
- Consider using a power meter for your running performance as well.
3 tips for a beginner, improver, and advanced triathletes
- Enjoyment. You have to enjoy triathlon.
- “All the gear and no idea.” You don’t have to buy all of these gadgets.
- Have a training buddy. This not only motivates you physically but also psychologically. You can challenge each other.
- Be consistent. If you’re not consistent, the elements of fitness will not have a chance to develop and progress to your target.
- Get yourself a program and a coach.
- Get a multisport watch if you want or if it’s affordable for you.
- Train with a coach. There are just values of having a coach that cannot be represented within being self-coached.
- Talk to your local facilities and tell them of your plans of qualifying for Kona or World Championships. Maybe they can allocate you a lane for at least one session a week.
- Set short-term and long-term goals so that you would know if you’re on right track to where you want to achieve.
Links, resources and contact
Links and resources mentioned
Connect with Simon Brierley
Connect with host Mikael Eriksson
Hi! I'm your host Mikael,
I am a full-time triathlon coach and an ambitious age-group triathlete. My goal is podium at the Finnish national championships within the next few years.
I first started the website Scientific Triathlon in autumn 2015 as a passion project to share my learnings with a larger triathlon audience. Later on, in early 2017 I started the podcast That Triathlon Show.
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