Triathlon is known as a lifestyle sport. This is because as one gets more into the sport of triathlon, your lifestyle changes to balance the training needed for 3 different disciplines. There’s also gloomy fact about triathlon, is that many people after a period of time will burnout and possibly hang up the tri suit. The training can turn into a grind with hours upon hours each week, particularly when chasing a PR for long course triathlon.
Taking time to just have fun can make all the difference. Getting outside to swim, bike or run should be an enjoyable experience. Find others to training with can really help with this, and there are many local triathlon clubs to connect with. There’s the added bonus of making new friends.
Sometimes you might worry that the training isn’t specific enough to get the most benefit from it, but if you are doing really specific training and not enjoying it, you will mentally burnout, even if physically you’re going great. The mental aspect to triathlon and also life in general is very import to your own well-being. You cannot sustain quality training in a poor mental state, nor can you actually execute a good/enjoyable race when you are mentally tired.
Earlier this year I raced a couple for Olympic distance triathlons a few weeks apart. My goal for both was quite similar, to see how close to breaking 2 hours I could go. My fitness was going well with my build to my first race, however mentally I was quite tired of the constant grind. For the second race, I had similar fitness, but rather than focusing purely on fitness taper, I made an effort to also give my mental state a break. Mixed up some sessions, didn’t sweat about not hitting duration / pace and allowed myself to relax more. I raced much better in the second race, really pushing myself to my limits and finished almost 10 mins faster!
It was a good lesson for me, about the importance of enjoying training. There’s no need to be so serious all the time, don’t sweat the small things. I do like consistency and doing certain activities on each day, however mixing things up such as; change that tempo run to be a social run that your friend invited you to join them on. The training benefit may not be as good, but don’t underestimate the mental benefit which can be even more important!
Some things I like to do to make training more fun:
- Do a bomb when you jump in the pool
- Practice doing a mono / endo on the bike
- How far can you swim under water?
- Ride no hands when on the bike (as long as safe to do so!)
- Leave your watch at home and just engage in some good conversation with a mate
- Race to the next light post
- How many flips can you do in the water?
- Take part in Parkrun!
- Join a group for your long ride.