Multisport thoughts for the new year

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The thought of surviving the holiday season brings a sigh of relief for most people.

The holiday season is a multiday, multisport event composed of parties, friends, family, food, and in some cases, a nice dose of stress.

At the holiday finish line is the prospect of a new year, time to start fresh and make some new goals. If you are hunting for some new goals, this column contains a few thoughts that might help you out:

Try a triathlon as a team

If you aren't quite ready to do the entire event on your own, recruit some buddies and plan to do a race as a team. If you are an experienced triathlete, escort new triathletes into the sport by putting together a team with at least one athlete that has not participated in triathlon before.

For the speed demons, put together a team to see how fast you can go.

Try a new race in a new city

Traveling to a new location to race is fun. Add some vacation time after the race and make a holiday out of the trip.

Try a new, longer distance

If you have been doing sprint triathlons, move to Olympic distance events. If you've been doing Olympic distance events, how about a half-Ironman distance or Ironman distance event?

Try a shorter race and go fast

If you have been doing long course events, how about trying to go shorter and faster? How about aiming for a land-speed record on one of your favorite courses? How about trying your speed at USA Triathlon's National Championship event? Getting faster takes as much strategic planning as going longer does.

Mix it up

How about an early season half-marathon, century ride, bike tour, snowshoe event, trail run or another event? Adding a new event, that is not a triathlon, can be synergistic with your multisport goals.

Check your form

Early in the year is a good time to have a skilled coach look at your weight lifting technique, your swimming form, your bike fit or your running form. If you can improve sport form and economy, you can decrease the chance of injury, use less energy spent at a given pace, or perhaps travel at faster paces.

Aim for balance

Most multisport athletes are high achievers and find it acceptable to add time on to any workout. If it is acceptable to add time onto planned workouts, it should be acceptable to cut some workouts short -- right?

For each workout where you add 10 minutes on to the end, take 10 minutes off of the next workout.

Have patience

If you change something in your training to bring about an improvement, be patient about seeing the changes unfold. Sometimes it takes several weeks or several months for the fruits of your labors to pay off.

Invite butterflies into your stomach

Some athletes plan to do something new each year that pushes their limits, even scares them a little. While keeping a routine is good, embarking on an adventure that makes you a little nervous can do wonders for making the new year more exciting.

Volunteer at a race

We all know that racing would not be possible without volunteers. Give back to the sport by planning to volunteer at one, or more, events.

Play with technology

There are a multitude of gadgets to give you feedback and make your training more fun.

Whatever you decide to do for the new year, enjoy the journey.

Copyright Gale Bernhardt 2004

Gale Bernhardt was the 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic Coach. You can find more information, including pre-built base fitness plans, race training plans and training books at Gale's Training Plans, or visit She can be reached via e-mail at

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