5 Things I Learned As A Triathlon Coach This Season
I got into the sport of triathlon in 2016 at a local sprint race that my aunt roped me into. 6 years later, I consider myself an avid triathlete, and have officially completed my first season of triathlon coaching. I am combining my 10 years of swim coaching experience and collegiate track running to triathlon coaching. Here are some things that I learned this year as a coach.
SWIM FREQUENCY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN DURATION
2 swims per week for an hour each session will not be as beneficial to a new swimmer/triathlon as 3 or 4 sessions a week for 35-40 minutes each. The feel for the water is something that is lost quite quickly for an athlete who is not used to consistently swimming. The more an athlete can get into the water, the quicker they will develop and improve their fitness as a swimmer.
Contrary to running and cycling, an athlete cannot simply “try harder” in swimming to get faster. 1-on-1 lessons provide the necessary feedback to make minor changes to bring about major improvement.
SWIM EQUIPMENT BUILDS SWIM SPECIFIC STRENGTH
Athletes should know the reasons why they do something. Using fins may help the athlete with their leg strength in kicking, as well as fixing the form of the kick and hip position. A kick focused training session will establish proper body position and reduce drag. Paddles will improve the catch of the stroke, as well as build swimming specific muscles. These items can be found on our online Playtri store.
COACHING IS MORE THAN WORKOUTS
As a coach, it is imperative that we build a plan specifically for an athlete. Frequent communication helps build a personal relationship which helps ensure each athlete gets an individualized plan and is equipped to achieve their goals. The more communication I can achieve with an athlete, the more likely I am to get a deeper understanding of their process in the sport of triathlon.
NUTRITION IS TRULY THE 4TH DISCIPLINE OF TRIATHLON
Nutrition is something that swimmers deal with before and after workouts or meets. A triathlete must hone the skill of nutrition before, during, and after workouts, and ESPECIALLY races. This is something that is trained as frequently as swim, bike, and run. The idea of a scientific approach to a triathlete’s training is something that many athletes will look past until they have a massive bonk during a race or hard workout session.
As a Playtri coach, we have the resources necessary to run so many different kinds of tests, such as VO2 calorie expenditure, sweat composition, and blood lactate testing to ensure the scientific approach to all our athletes.
TIME IN THE SADDLE IS IRREPLACEABLE
Simply spinning your legs on your bike will not make you a great cyclist. The more frequently an athlete can get on their bike with targeted workouts, the better their overall fitness will become. The strength work that an athlete endures on the bike not only builds strength physically, but the mental strength is something that can be carried over to both the swim and the run. The leg strength and continuous use of the legs does not match one to one with running, but it is one of the more productive activities that an athlete can do to improve their fitness.
Stay tuned for Coach Michael’s follow-up articles going deeper into each of these lessons!
Coach Michael Rourke is a Level 2 Playtri Coach and an American Swim Coaches Association Level 4 swim coach. He coaches junior and adult triathletes of all levels, as well as high school elite swimmers. He is also a 70.3 World’s Qualifier.