4 Triathlon Training Myths to Avoid Heading into Next Season

A common dictionary definition of a “myth” is a “widely held but false belief or idea.” That’s means it’s double trouble. First, it’s a false understanding of a matter, usually based on incorrect assumptions. And second, it’s widely held and one in which many people believe whole-heartedly. 

Especially in triathlon, training according to a myth is a recipe for disaster. You should never simply “follow the herd” (or do what works well for your training partners). Instead, you should always know exactly what your training principles and strategies are and why you’re pursuing them.

The start of a new season is the perfect time to expose some common myths, learn from their errors, and set a new course toward the better and more helpful principle or strategy. Let’s look at a few of the most common triathlon myths:

Myth #1: Large training volumes will yield the best results and long-course preparation must be started in the preseason to build a “base.”

Facts: More isn’t always better. Often, athletes will lament over the numerous training hours they are logging while preparing for a triathlon, specifically a half-Ironman or full-Ironman distance event. They claim that the hours are making them incredibly fatigued, causing them to miss out on family events, compromise their stride or pace, or even risk unnecessary injury. They think that this is just part of the process. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Large volume training is often based on fear, ensuring that athletes put in enough distance to get to the finish line. 

And while logging seemingly endless hours may produce enough endurance to adequately cross the finish line, athletes may be missing out on their best performance. TriDot structures training to be “fast before far” and “strong before long,” prescribing training for each athlete that produces the best possible race result. When athletes work at the volume and intensity that is appropriate for them, not only is peak performance attainable but so is spending time on life’s other priorities.  

Myth #2: You should spend most of your training time on your weakest discipline.  

Facts: It seems common sense at first: you need to improve your swim, so you are going to log countless hours in the pool until you see improvement. But 10,000 hours of doing something wrong will just make you really good at doing something wrong. The TriDot team discussed that in the recent podcast, “How to Remove 8 Barriers to Swim Improvement.”

Often athletes will try to improve a weakness by increasing the frequency and volume of the weak activity. However, if they continue to do that activity incorrectly, additional repetition will only reinforce the underlying issue and can often lead to injury. It’s not about doing the work. It’s about doing the right work the right way. Practice does not make perfect if the practice is incorrect. 

A better strategy is to train with purpose. TriDot prescribes the optimal sessions that consider frequency, duration, intensity, and technique. Athletes following their TriDot workouts are doing the right work, at the right time, for the right amount of time, with the right effort. You may need to spend additional training time for the weakest discipline, but not at the expense of quality.

Myth #3: You need to take a rest day each week. 

Facts: When I’m asked, “What day is your rest day?” many are surprised to find that I don’t take one weekly! With balance and ongoing monitoring, there isn’t a need for one! Traditional “rest days” are often the result of trial and error training where athletes take on too much training and need additional recovery time at the cost of training opportunities.

Thankfully, TriDot is far from trial and error. Training is balanced with stress and recovery, allowing for safe and productive training seven days a week. Scheduling a day off does not reduce the amount of sessions prescribed in a week. Instead, it will just adjust to fit those sessions into six days—usually resulting in two or more sessions being scheduled on another day.

But what if your schedule or family responsibilities require you to take a day off? What if you just want or need to take a day off? What if you need a day off from the logistics of getting to the gym? Then, absolutely schedule a day off! But “rest assured,” TriDot family, you don’t have to take a rest day every week for performance purposes!

Myth #4: You can race your way to your best fitness. 

Facts: Many athletes begin their next season with the goal of completing a certain number of races. They plan all the races they want to race and have not considered how they may interact with one another, and even compete with one another, preventing top performance. Athletes will often schedule many smaller events leading into their priority race, thinking of it as a way to “race themselves into shape.” 

TriDot’s Season Planner helps by guiding you through race planning. It optimizes your training based on your current level of fitness and the timeline between now and your next race event. TriDot indicates if placing a race is optimal, not optimal, or not available. How much improvement potential an athlete has between now and the race date is taken into consideration. The data from your body composition, current training, TriDot Scores, and your prioritization are also calculated.

The Season Planner works backward and forward.  If you place a race on the calendar, TriDot works backward to build up the stamina needed to race completion in a steady and safe manner. It also looks at an athlete’s current level of fitness and timeline to the next race and projects how much improvement can be made between now and the race date.  

The best defense against myths and being deceived in your training is learning the facts and knowing why you train the way you do. Be informed. Train smart. And perform the best you can by training based on data and a proven process, not training myths.

U.S. patents pending. Trademarks of Predictive Fitness, Inc. include nSight, TriDot, TrainX, RaceX, Physiogenomix, EnviroNorm, IronIndex, and Optimized Triathlon Training.

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