Are you getting the most out of your triathlon training?

Three easy ways to improve your performance
by Jeanne Mahon, U.S.A.T Certified Triathlon Coach

In their enthusiasm, most beginning triathletes overlook three vital pieces of the triathlon-training puzzle. Having competed in triathlon for a number of years, I am guilty of making all of the mistakes I will be advising you against. But, no more!

1. Rest, Recovery, Rejuvenation. Call it what you want. Depending on your age, you need to be taking 1-2 recovery days per week. A recovery day can be a day off from training or a very light day of training. Perhaps it is the day you do yoga, pilates or take a walk in the woods.

Listen to your body. If you are feeling tired and sluggish and find yourself breathless after climbing stairs, if you are getting sick or injured frequently, you may need to look at how much recovery time you are giving your body. Many people unknowingly train their bodies into a state of chronic depletion referred to as over training. The operating belief being, the more I do the stronger, faster, better I’ll be.

It is during recovery that your body gets stronger and makes the adaptations necessary to work harder. I repeat, in order to get stronger, faster and to stay injury free, your body must have periods of recovery.

2. This leads to our next piece of the puzzle, Variety. My first few years in Triathlon, I did more or less the same thing at every workout. I ran, biked and swam as fast as I could for the amount of time I figured it would take me to complete that portion of the race. Aside from burnout, this method also neglects the fact that our bodies respond best to a variety of training distances, speeds and intensity.

Varying the types of training you do in each sport assists you in developing strength, endurance and speed. If you are training 2-3 times a week in each sport, try varying your weekly workouts. Include a long endurance session (slow, easy to moderate pace), a tempo session (20-30 minutes at a hard effort) and an interval workout. Try alternating periods of recovery with periods of high intensity. Start intervals with a 2:1 ratio so that the recovery period (distance) is twice as long as the intensity period. If you are just beginning, keep the intervals short and always begin all training with a 10-15 minute warm up.

3. Technique. Spend time and possibly some money on your technique and form. No matter how hard you swim, if you are not positioned in the water properly, you will not have any speed and you will exhaust yourself! Master swim teams, running clubs, cycling clubs, health clubs, local shops, coaches, trainers…find a person or a few who you trust and ask them to work with you. When I first started, I didn’t know how to swim laps. I took a ½ hour lesson every six weeks. I would get a few pointers then practice on my own. When I felt ready I joined a Master swim class. The resources are numerous. Getting feedback on your technique and form is invaluable. It not only increases your speed but can ward off injury.

I encourage you to try incorporating these suggestions. Pick a 3-4 week period and add some of these tips to your training schedule. Track your energy, the quality of your workouts, your mood etc. I know you’ll notice a big difference. If you have questions, comments or want to share your experience, I would love to hear from you.

Jeanne Mahon
Coach U Certified Life Coach (pending)
U.S.A.T Certified Triathlon Coach
A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer

About the Author
Jeanne Mahon is passionate about health, fitness and people. She is a positive and motivating leader who loves to challenge and inspire others to reach for their goals and dreams in all areas of their lives. As an instructor, trainer, manager and coach, Jeanne has held a variety of positions in the fitness industry for over ten years. She has recently founded her own company, Wellness Coaching, that offers Life Coaching, Triathlon Coaching and Personal Training. If you are interested in more information on Triathalon Training, contact Personal Best to put you in touch with Jeanne Mahon or, if you are interested in joining a Triathalon Training Team, log on to