Mindset for Longevity in Triathlon
Altra Elite triathlete and coach, Lesley Smith, offers her long-term perspective on how to approach triathlon
Anyone can get pumped about training for their first few triathlon races, but what does it take to persist with the lifestyle over time?
The following are overarching mindsets that I feel lead to longevity in the sport, from both a performance and enjoyment perspective.
When it comes to training, consistency over time outweighs any chunk of training. When things come up that lead to scattered training, remember that more important is what you have done over the past six months, year, etc. Conversely, one perfectly executed week or workout is not going to be the magic pill for fitness. This applies to other factors like sleep, nutrition and recovery as well.
Heart rate and pacing numbers are effective tools for both training and racing. Establishing zones provides a guide for using the appropriate energy systems, and it can be mentally stimulating to follow a structured workout using these parameters. It is important to note that many variables can affect these numbers (i.e. terrain and weather conditions). Therefore, they are occasionally unreliable, and it is not mentally sustainable to evaluate them after every single workout.
If disappointment comes creeping in because of a poor race result, it is helpful to analyze what could have been done better for future reference, but also try to stay focused on the overarching reasons that you chose to have triathlon as a part of your life in the first place. The desire to live an active lifestyle and push yourself through challenges are the values that lead to longevity in the sport vs. overly focusing on specific race results.
On race day, you do not have to feel great and have everything go perfectly to walk away with a general feeling of success. Whether your goggles leak during the swim, you get a flat tire on the bike, or you overheat on the run, remember why you decided to start racing triathlons. The most satisfying feeling is crossing the finish line in spite of the obstacles you faced.
Altra Elite Team’s Lesley Smith is a Certified Triathlon Coach at AJ Baucco Coaching LLC, as well as professional triathlete with multiple Ironman and 70.3 podiums. (Article originally appeared in Triathlon Magazine Canada, June 2018)