Triathlon performance is in part defined by three elemental physiological features that, once trained, become an important focus of good workout planning for coached and self-coached athletes. To be clear, there are many factors, but in this article we’ll focus on how you can always work economy and get better results.
3 Physiological Elements of Training
V02max: Your maximal oxygen consumption capacity (Vo2max) is the highest rate at which oxygen taken in from the atmosphere can be delivered to the muscles, and then utilized during exercise. Its measurement is relatively simple utilizing a metabolic chart to guage air inspired and expired during the test. The test is typically performed on a running treadmill or cycling ergometer using progressive graded intensity until a plateau of oxygen intake is reached.
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Lactate Threshold: The lactate (LT) or anaerobic threshold is an intensity level that indicates how well an athlete utilizes their oxygen. The lactate threshold is a useful measure for deciding exercise intensity. Training the LT for a triathlete is essential as the sport is contested, for the most part, as steady output of energy and intensity.
Technique: Economy is used to express how the oxygen consumed is used at a given exercise workload. Two athletes can have the same VO2max, but can vary in performance due to variations of movement. Consequently, endurance performance is affected to a large extent upon an athlete’s economy of movement (or their technique). And this is where athletes can make up the most in performance.
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These distinctions are important as self-coached athletes, those working with coaches and those using online programs are all subject to a wide-range of methods. Good to great performance are largely accomplished by improving the lactate threshold and becoming technically efficient. And improving technique is the best way to couple both of these important training attributes.
Even under the tutelage of a coach, technique is often overlooked as it pertains to individuals. We are not all the same, and individual technique is often missed in group training as there are many movement and stability factors at play for every athlete. There are of course, basic elemental movements and techniques in swimming, cycling and running that athletes can be taught, but to reach higher levels of performance a more individualized approach may be important for some athletes. This is especially true for athletes with recurring injuries and those who feel stuck, with little or no improvement no matter the volume or training intensity.
Whether you are an elite, competitive, recreational or a beginner triathlete the evaluation of mobility, flexibility and stability are central starting points. This can make a huge difference in performance and lifestyle.
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Many triathletes come to the sport as adults and have to learn the right pathways of movement. By addressing individual differences (mobility, flexibility and stability) athletes can gain higher levels of performance, reduce injuries, and improve their swimming, cycling and running technique. A lot of these movements are easily corrected by a few weekday dryland sessions of functional mobility, flexibility and stability training.
Over time, uneven movements will become more symmetrical and reduce compensations that frequently result in overuse or recurring injury. For the beginner, intermediate and recreational triathlete, identifying inflexible, immobile and weak body areas early on goes a long way in performance and a lifetime of athletic enjoyment.
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The Movement Matrix
- A decrease in mobility equals a constant misalignment in the body’s ability to move in a symmetrical way.
- A decrease in flexibility equals a decrease in normal arc of motion as a result of restrictions in motion by tight muscles, and the inability of weak muscles to move a body part properly.
- An increase in muscle tightness will maintain a faulty alignment regardless of body position, therefore, being inflexible can result in less efficient movement and of course, chronic injury.
- A weak muscle will often cause corrective changes in body alignment. Unlike normal wear and tear and normal arcs, a weak muscle may cause abnormal movements.
- A “normal” movement pattern sustains “normal” wear and tear on joint surfaces and “normal” distributions of weight and movement.
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