4 Ways to Train Smart

As amateur athletes, it's natural to assume that more hours spent in the pool, and on the bike or running path is the recipe to make you fitter and faster.

But professional endurance athletes and coaches know what really matters: It's not just how much you train, but how you do it. For example, running the same five-mile loop around the neighborhood may be great for burning calories, but it's not effective for building leg speed.

Triathletes looking for a more effective training plan need to use their head as much as their arms and legs. Here are a few secrets on how to train smart and get the best results for your efforts.

More: Effective Running and Cycling Drills

Cross-Training Isn't a Fad

You love to run. Great, you've found your sport, but that doesn't mean you can't learn from your neighbor, the avid cyclist. In fact, both amateurs—the runner and cyclist—would benefit from joining each other in their respective sports.

The upshot? Your muscles will benefit from the new and different motion and exercise. Let's face it; running is hard on your bones and joints. It beats you up and if done incorrectly can lead to debilitating injuries like plantar fasciitis.

By jumping on the bike you're stressing your muscles in a new and different way. That means those muscles also are building up in a unique and varied way.

Bottom Line: Mix it up for peak performance.

More: 5 Cross-Training Activities for Triathletes

Go Early

We all have busy lives and it can make it difficult to squeeze in that daily workout. For many amateur athletes, the responsibilities of family and work can make it seem impossible to meet your training plan.

There is a simple solution. Get your exercise in as early in your day as possible. If you are not a morning person you might consider becoming one. It won't take long for your body to adjust to the new schedule. Just get up early and hit the gym, pool or running path.

You'll be a faster and stronger amateur athlete at the end or the first month of early-bird training. Plus, you'll have the added benefit of feeling great all day and teeing your body up to burn calories more efficiently throughout the day.

More: Morning Workouts Made Easier

About the Author

Roman Mica is an amateur Clydesdale triathlete who lives and races in Boulder, Colorado. He is the managing editor of www.EverymanTri.com and author of My Training Begins Tomorrow: The Everyman's Guide to IRONFIT Swimming, Cycling & Running.

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