Categories: Train
Tags: triathlon

No coach? No problem. Must-try training tips for triathletes without a coach

June 19, 2018

Just because you don’t have a triathlon coach doesn’t mean you can’t have a PR-setting triathlon season. Here are our top tips for triathletes who want a boost in performance without hiring a coach.

Let’s face it, triathlon is expensive. Between amassing gear for three separate sports, your grocery bill and race registration fees, these expenses can leave little wiggle room for anything else. If you’re curious about taking your performance to the next level but can’t afford a triathlon coach (or simply want to go it alone), there are still some straightforward ways to get some serious results by tweaking your training approach yourself.

While nothing can make up for the knowledge and expertise a triathlon coach brings to the table, self-coaching is doable if you’re motivated enough and have the right tools.

These simple coach-free tips could be the difference maker in your triathlon season.

Know Your Weaknesses

A coach will be able to recognize your weaknesses almost immediately, but it can be tougher to be honest with yourself. In order to progress in triathlon, knowing said weaknesses and addressing them is key.

Take stock of where you’re at after your last training block – what did you struggle with? What did you not enjoy completing? How did you feel after certain workouts? Write down your thoughts and be more mindful of them as you work towards your goal.

Training Load

Quantifying your training sessions is the only way you can accurately analyze and track your progress as a triathlete. Comparing a two-hour run to a two-hour run is easy enough, but when triathletes throw three different sports into the mix, comparisons get a little more complicated.

Monitoring your Training Load is essential in comparing the loads of different workouts and provide feedback to adjust the intensity and duration of future efforts. (The Polar Training Load feature included in the Polar V800 GPS sports watch also gives you an estimated recovery time to ensure you’re recovered and ready for your next session.)

Ask Yourself “Why”

Simply going through the motions while training will yield minimal results on race day. Schedule your training plan and execute each workout with intention. Instead of completing a 45-minute swim, show up to the pool with goals for the workout and a detailed list of sets. Not surprisingly, your workout will look different depending on if you’re trying to get faster or trying to build an endurance base. Training is not a “one size fits all” approach, so don’t treat it as such.

Orthostatic testing

There’s more to a successful training session than simply the effort itself. Your body will react to training loads differently when exposed to variable factors like stress, sickness and lack of sleep.

The Polar V800 GPS sports watch includes an orthostatic testing feature that provides metrics on how your body is recovering in order to prevent burning out. When compared with previous tests, you’ll be able to see any fluctuations or changes in your status and adjust accordingly. A coach can help extrapolate the data further, but the interface is straightforward enough for the average triathlete to glean valuable data.

Work backwards

Whether you’re training for your first sprint triathlon, or you’re targeting your next iron-distance race, it’s important to create a manageable timeline by working back from your big day. A good coach will use a general formula that he or she tailors to each individual client that takes their needs into account.

By choosing to go without a coach, you’ll need to do serious research on frequency and intensity of your workouts. Start with a prewritten 12- to 16-week plan and adjust as needed.

Recovery Status

Striking the perfect balance between training and recovery is hard – especially without a coach. The Recovery Status as part of Polar’s Smart Coaching features will take your heart rate into account and rank your current status as Balanced, Strained, Very Strained or Undertrained and give you an estimated recovery time after each workout.

Every athlete has a different level of exercise tolerance, so by keeping track of your recovery you can stay healthy, energized and on track while you train for your next race.

Support system

Obviously not having a coach means there’s nobody besides your own willpower holding yourself accountable. If possible, connect with a triathlon group in your area and schedule some of your workouts around their group sessions for a little extra nudge in the right direction.

When you’re having a less-than-motivated day, your peers will help you push through the slump when you’re deep in a training block. Plus, your new training partners hold a ton of (free) triathlon knowledge you can tap into if a question ever presents itself.

Keep learning

Even the highest-caliber professional triathletes are fine-tuning their training and racing methods as they progress through their careers. Sites like TriathleteSlowtwitch and LAVA Magazine regularly post free articles and videos on new training studies and tips for race day that you can apply to your personal triathlon endeavors.

Aforementioned outlets aside, there are loads of resources and forums online where you can find all the answers to your triathlon-related questions. Don’t believe anything you hear and read though – make sure the article cites its information from credible sources. Everyone has their own spin, so separate opinion from fact to keep from potentially injuring yourself because of bad advice.