One of the most important ways to improve in triathlon is to build off the successes and failures of each season’s races. It’s key to take a look back and analyze what could have been done better and what should be left unchanged. Sometimes simple tweaks can make a huge difference
These are the main ways I break down my season
Consistency and Outliers
I don’t define the year by the highs or the lows, but by the average. If I won the swim at one race, but was chase pack every other, I need to change how I approach getting wet.
Avoid “Split” Fixation
When analyzing individual race performances, I tend to avoid looking too heavily into individual splits. General seasonal trends can indicate whether or not I’m improving, but a race isn’t good simply based on a fast 10k. How a race develops massively affects draft-legal racing, but even non-draft events can have significant differences in course difficulty or slight changes in length.
It’s useful to look at how you perform compared to other people whom you race against frequently. While people will have breakthroughs and you can easily lose to inferior athletes, a whole season of data points generally shows an average level of performance. How you race against them can help key you into the ‘problem’ races of the season.
Before you go analyzing a bad race, remember that during your taper you were moving, your car died, and the Chargers lost all in the same week? Stupid things can affect race performance and not being mentally sharp can be a huge detriment.
Within a race and throughout the season, don’t purely look at events in isolation. If your run seems slow, it could be because your bicycling fitness is too low to allow you run well. If you averaged the same number of watts but felt too fatigued for the run, it could be because you didn’t hold a steady effort. If one race was off, look at the time period – were you in a heavy block of training and didn’t taper?
It’s not all about lungs
I was about as fast a swimmer when I trained in Colorado Springs, but moving out to San Diego has enabled me to practice open water skills more. As a result I’m consistently farther ahead in the water than other years, despite being the same level of pool swimmer.
Similarly, my bike handling has improved, which has enabled me to put out fewer watts and be fresher for the run.
Finally, I have learned how to draft on the run much more effectively. While I’ll still lead at critical times, being calmer in a pack of guys has helped my results tremendously.
Examining execution is equally as important as increasing your fitness is to improving your performance.
Be very careful to examine the root causes of injuries. Often an injury isn’t a reflection of training, but recovery, nutrition, and self-awareness. Insufficient core strength, calories, or sleep can be preventing you from capitalizing on great training.
The greatness of triathlon is in the endless number of things that can be tweaked to find improvement. Good luck!
As always, this was brought to you by Kestrel bicycles.
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email: gregory @ gregorybillington dot com