4. You Don't Know How to Taper
Training is easy, tapering is hard. Training is something we do every day, some of you several times a day. Tapering is something very few triathletes do. In fact, most triathletes spend the bulk of their seasons training straight through races, using them as organized workouts.
When it comes to actually tapering for performance you most likely don't have enough data to know what will work for you. Just remember that the goal of tapering is to be 100 percent rested for race day.
Too many athletes say they need "just one more key workout to make sure they're ready." That workout is, in fact, their race. This turns the big event into nothing more than a footnote instead of a foot race.
Resting should be easy. The best way to do it is simply to not work out. But most Type A triathletes don't come with an off switch, and if they do their version of "off" isn't exactly what their body needs. Remember that no one ever said they were too rested on race day.
Building the right taper takes practice and even some tweaking along the way.
More: How to Optimize Your Triathlon Taper
5. You Swim Too Hard On Race Day
Then again, it's possible to get everything right and still not have your best possible race. Your equipment is good, your fitness is high, you're mentally ready…but then you go out and try to impersonate Michael Phelps on race day.
Sometimes this is caused by an experience, sometimes simply by too much adrenaline. Either way, your body simply can't handle the work of a super hard swim within the context of the triathlon.
It's worth spending a few key workouts before your next a race focusing explicitly on race pace swimming. Not to get faster, but rather to dial in that pace so that it becomes the default. While the vast majority of triathlons aren't won on the swim, many of them are lost there.
More: 6 Ways to Train the Triathlon Swim Start
6. You Can't Hit Race Weight
Fitness is one thing, speed is another. While there are many different gradations when it comes to quality of equipment—usually in proportion to how much you're willing to spend on it—there are some things that money can't buy. The biggest one on the list: gravity.
Aside from the time you spend in the water, the rest of your time is spent moving your body across land. The larger you are, the more work you have to do. The math is that simple. You're far better off working to lose 5 pounds then you are spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on a wheel set that will save you 1,000 grams. You're better off losing 5 pounds then you are locking yourself on your bike trainer for 8 weeks to improve your threshold power.
Weight loss is, of course, extremely relative. Some of us have more to lose than others. Know your body, know your limits, and focus on the things that give you the highest return on investment. Besides, looking really fit and strong on race day offers a secret psychological advantage as well.
More: 5 Ways to Slim Down and Speed Up for Your Next Race
7. You Frequently Change Your Training Focus
As a coach, this has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. Back in the day, there was very little information on coaching, workouts or training performance. Now thanks to your smart phone, you're only seconds away from finding hundreds of articles with training ideas, each one promising better results than the last.
While some people worry about their child's potential for having Attention Deficit Disorder, many of you suffer from a parallel issue: Training Attention Deficit Disorder.
What starts out as a simple season with the master plan quickly snowballs into doing the workouts your friends are doing. Maybe you find a new article on secret high intensity intervals, and now you're including those as well. Adding hills to your new training focus: running? Not a problem; that's in the schedule now too. Everyone is doing a big century ride this weekend, so you cut your intervals and do something else instead.
While there is always new information on what can be more effective, there is no substitute for a consistently implemented program. It usually takes your body anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to achieve a basic training plateau. Any changes, incremental or otherwise, made during the six-week period will inhibit your body's ability to adapt and grow.
Next time you find something new and appealing, set it aside for when you revisit your training results, within the context of your master season plan, at the end of one of these phases.
More: 6 Tips to Plan Your Triathlon Race Season