Maintaining Balance in Triathlon
Triathlon is a sport that attracts driven and motivated people. We love the challenge, camaraderie, and the ability to test our limits as we look to improve. There is no secret to how we get better; it takes commitment, hard work and a whole lot of discipline. So it is only natural that many athletes, who are both self-motivated and want to improve, will work hard, really hard. Not only that, but they will work hard over and over again, trying to get every last ounce of increased performance. That mentality can be a good thing, but athletes often assume that harder is always better. Challenging workouts that test our limits are critical to improving performance, but they are only beneficial if we achieve the right balance in training and in life in general.
I’ve seen too many examples in recent years of athletes that get hooked on triathlon, but don’t find balance. They fall in love with the sport, invest all sorts of time and money, but within a year or two, they are out of the sport due to mental burnout or injury. The worst part is that if they had taken a more long-term approach, they might still be involved. Maintaining balance is not easy, but if you are able to find it, these are some of the rewards you will see:
- Longevity – enjoying the sport year after year as a part of a healthy lifestyle.
- Injury prevention – if you stay healthy, you can keep training, racing, and improving.
- Increased performance – balance in your training can actually lead to better results due to proper recovery, both mentally and physically.
- Health – triathlon can have a huge positive impact on your overall health and wellness.
- Relationships – achieving balance in the sport will enhance, not take away from, your relationships with family and friends.
Ok, that sounds good, right? We all want to make sure we’re keeping the right balance in our lives and our training. But what does that look like? Well, it is different for everyone. Only you know what will work best for you! With that said, I do have some tips that could help you:
- Don’t train hard all the time – in fact, only train hard a little of the time. Most workouts, especially with running, are not meant to be done at an “all out” effort. If you find that you are often injured, take a look at your training. You might be going too hard too often.
- Recover, recover, recover – your body does not get stronger during training. The improvement occurs after each session. If you are not allocating the appropriate time for recovery, including sleep, your body cannot properly utilize all of the hard work you’ve already put in.
- Give yourself a break – After your season, take some time to “unplug.” This isn’t just important to allow your body to recover, but it is even more important for your mind. Listen to what your mind and body are telling you and allow yourself to get away for a bit. After a week or two of unstructured training, you’ll be eager and excited to jump back into your training
- Keep your priorities straight – Most of us are addicted to triathlon in some form or fashion, but it is important that it fits into our lives and not the other way around. If we put our training ahead of family, friends and work, triathlon becomes unsustainable for the long term. But if we keep those priorities in order, we’re able to use the sport to help enhance these other areas.
As triathletes, we’re trying to fit a lot into an already busy schedule, and achieving the right balance is an ongoing challenge. It is like a complex puzzle that keeps changing every day. This is one of the main reasons why leaning on a professional can be so helpful. A certified triathlon coach from Experience Triathlon can help you find the balance you are looking for in order to help you achieve your goals.
Hopefully you can apply some of these tips in order to become a faster, happier and more balanced athlete!
Jim Levesque is a USAT certified Triathlon Coach with Experience Triathlon. He also leads ET’s downtown Chicago locations and activites. As leaders in the endurance services industry, Coach Jim and the Experience Triathlon staff help athletes of all ages and abilities achieve success in training, racing and life. Learn more about Coach Jim and Experience Triathlon at www.experiencetriathlon.com.