Are you still following the same training plan you did 10 years ago—or worse, blindly adopting the latest trend without understanding whether it's right for you? Here's what top coaches wish you knew about these common training mistakes:
You Think Healthy Eating Has to be Miserable
Cutting out whole food groups, obsessively counting calories or carbs, or making yourself crazy with any particular nutrient or food shouldn't be mistaken for healthy eating.
"Eating well isn't about restraint," says Jason Gootman, MS, CISSN, co-director of Massachusetts-based Tri-Hard Endurance Sports Coaching. "Eating well is simple and fun. But our society has made it very, very hard."
To perform at your peak, you need to bring eating back to a simple pleasure that nourishes you and your athletic goals. At Tri-Hard, Gootman, who is a certified sports nutritionst takes restriction off the table and instead requires his athletes to eat minimum amounts of nourishing foods so they learn to satisfy their bodies with nutrient-rich foods first. After that, they can eat what they want.
"People think they need massive willpower to avoid eating junk, but they don't. A satisfied body does not want junk and doesn't want to overeat," Gootman said.
See what happens to your palate and your performance if you turn your eating energy toward feasting on healthy foods.
You Believe That the Only Way to Get Fast is to Go Fast
"You will see gains in all three disciplines by developing sound technique," says Chris Janzen, founder of TriathleteMind.com, a sports performance coaching business. Building technique often means doing a workout in a slow and focused way. Instead of judging a workout's success by the clock, these workouts need to be measured by how much you have focused on improving.
"It's useful for people to let go of the idea that every session needs to be hard and fast," he says. "Going fast with bad technique is not going to sustain you over time."
You Never do Indoor Workouts
Even at the pro level, there's a combination of indoor and outdoor training, explains Eneas Freyre, director at TARGETTRAINING in Connecticut.
"Recreational riders who go out and do courses with a lot of downhills and coasting can create a little washout in terms of the intensity level of the workout that day," he says. Working indoors allows you to precisely control the variables and get what you're after that day "without diluting the quality," says Freyre.
There's no specific recipe for how much to do indoors and out, but he advises keeping individual indoor sessions between 45 and 90 minutes. If you don't like to train indoors, consider making peace with it in order to make progress. Freyre recommends approaching indoor sessions with very specific goals of timed intervals. That creates structure that makes the sessions more approachable, he says.