Cross-training with alternate workouts is great for all endurance athletes. Cyclists, do some hiking or running. Runners, do some swimming or inline skating. Triathletes, go mountain biking or workout on a rowing machine. Any activity is fair game for cross-training. Your transition phase (immediately after your last race of the year) and rest weeks are very good times to include cross-training workouts.
Split Up Your Hard Workouts
Consider breaking up your long ride (or brick) and your long run if possible in your personal schedule. For example, do your long run on Tuesday or Wednesday and your long ride (or brick) on Saturday. This allows you to split up two of your most demanding workouts, allowing both to be more productive, especially if you are training for an Ironman.
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Train at Race Intensity
Make sure your long workouts feature portions at race intensity. This will help you prepare for your race physically, mentally and emotionally. You'll be very specifically prepared for exactly what your race will feel like. You can't go slow in all your workouts and expect to go fast in your races.
Ride First, Run Second
When planning days with both a cycling and running workout, whenever possible, ride as your first workout and run as your second workout, even if you are doing the two workouts several hours apart. Done regularly, this helps you become a better triathlon runner as you get better at running on cycling-fatigued legs.
Use Your Body Weight
Don't ever use a machine for strength-power training. Get off of the machines, stand up, and do total-body exercises that focus on movements, not individual muscles. Do all forms of squats, lunges, step-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, and similar exercises using barbells, dumbbells, weight plates, pulleys, bands, weight vests, and similar pieces of equipment for resistance. Free-standing, total-body, movement-focused exercises build usable strength-power and help prevent injuries.
Sleep is a critical aspect of health and one of the most important aspect of recovery from your workouts. Aim for as much sleep as you can get. Six hours is the minimum effective amount of sleep for an endurance athlete in heavy training. Eight to nine hours is ideal for most athletes.
Take at least one rest day each week—a day where you do not workout. Use the extra time to rest; do not fill it up with other things. Hang out with your family or friends, read a good book just for fun, watch a movie, or do something else that is restful to you. This is as important as working hard in your workouts. Workout stress plus recovery equals improvement. Without rest, you cannot recover.
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Jason Gootman, MS, CSCS is the co-director of Tri-Hard Endurance Sports Coaching. He is a USA Triathlon Certified Coach and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Visit his website at www.tri-hard.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.