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Triathlon Fitness Training

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Training for a triathlon doesn't just have to be all about about swimming, cycling and running (although you will have to do those a bit). We spoke to all-round fitness expert and Reebok ambassador Richard Callender to find out a bit more about triathlon preparation and what you can do besides the obvious to prepare.

How should people focus their training when working towards a triathlon?

When preparing for a triathlon, people should look to train each section both in isolation and as an integration of the event. Develop workout plans around becoming a more efficient swimmer, cyclist and runner as individual races and then marry them together slowly to develop your overall conditioning as an athlete. Always focus on your weakest areas and reduce the amount of time you spend in the comfort zone of your preferred discipline.

Along with cycling, swimming and running what other training techniques can be used to help towards triathlon preparation?

Aside from the obvious triathlon preparation, other training techniques that will assist include bodyweight and weighted interval training (Reebok CrossFit/Armageddon) because it will enable a greater recruitment of functional muscles and develop your cardio fitness fast. The key to great training is to constantly change the demands on your body and so incorporate kettlebells, rowers, sprinting, suspension training, Pilates and more into your training so that your body learns to become adaptable.

What exercises can be done at home?

At home you often have stairs, the road outside and a lounge/living space. Using these elements alone you can be doing; (stairs) stair runs, step ups, Plyometric stair jumps, single leg lunges; (road) shuttle runs, Plyometric squat jumps, walking lunges, hops, skipping, mountain climbers; (lounge) push ups, isometric squats, tricep dips, crunches, planks, clean & presses - using weights/water bottles) - burpees, squat thrusts, etc.

What's the best way to warm-up before the race?

You always need to keep in mind the purpose of the warm-up - it is to prepare both your mind and body for the exertion ahead. As this warmup is sport specific, I would suggest giving yourself sufficient time to actually jog shuttles, cycle short distances to warm your legs and swim (or land based - mimic the action) to lubricate the joints and prepare your lungs. I would recommend warming up in reverse of the actual triathlon sequence so that you end with warming up for the swim so that you haven't cooled down by doing it first and then starting the race.

Are there any common fitness mistakes people make when preparing for a race such as a triathlon?

  • Not training at the correct 'race' intensity and therefore suffering when actually competing and having very little reserves to call upon
  • Spending too much time in isolation with training and not practising the transitions from swimming to cycling and cycling to running which takes a lot out of you.
  • Overtraining is one of the most common problems for all sports and especially with triathlons where people lose sight of the fact that rest time means rest time for the body to recover and adapt.
  • Not planning ahead with regard to their training, nutrition, equipment and timings
  • Assuming that doing ‘just enough’ is enough which can be dangerous as you are often putting a lot of strain on your body and you need to have developed a decent degree of fitness to succeed
  • Trying something new or different in the run up to a race is often a recipe for disaster and could increase your risk of injury. Get your plan together early and stick to it.

What are the most common forms of injury?

  • Shoulder injuries rank high because of the amount of stress placed on the rotator cuff and shoulder joint during the swimming section and then the isometric tension placed on them during the cycle phase.
  • IT band syndrome is common because the IT band runs down from the glute/hip and down the outside of the thigh and is affected by constant knee bending and straightening. So upping your mileage on the runs and bike can cause knee pain which is systematic of IT band syndrome. Time to grab a foam roller.
  • Achilles tendinitis is very common because of the action of running, the footwear, overuse and also mild overpronation when running. The tendon becomes inflamed and very sore and debilitating.
  • Stress fractures are becoming increasingly common as people try triathlons for the first time and dramatically increase their running or cycling capacity. Ease yourself in slowly and take your time.

Take part in free fitness classes at the Reebok FitHub King’s Road and other venues around the UK; www.reebok.co.uk

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