Stay on Track by Tri-training With a Squad

[Editor's Note: This article was originally published in March, 2001. Laura Reback would eventually marry Greg Bennett in 2004 and change her name to Laura Bennett.]

In the past 10 years of being really involved in sport, I have learned the importance of consistency in the journey to be a dominant force in a particular discipline.

No doubt, hard work plays a significant role, but without the consistency to back up day after day, the hard work doesn't shine through. I have found that having a routine is a huge stabilizer in achieving this, and that a solid coach and squad can provide the support to keep you on track.

I found mine in the squad coached by Victoria, B.C.-based Lance Watson and made up of triathletes like Australian Greg Bennett, Olympic gold medalist Simon Whitfield, 2001 Ironman New Zealand champion Lisa Bentley, Andrea Fisher, Lucy Smith and Sharon Donnelly, to name a few.

We set up training camp in Australia earlier this winter (2001), so the short-course athletes among us could train for the Australian Formula 1 series, and the long-course athletes like Lisa Bentley could prep for Ironman New Zealand.

Here's what a typical day in the life looks like for the members of our squad as we train together:

Keep Me Searching for a Heart of Gold

This morning, Neil Young pulled us out of our dreams and back to the reality of the early-morning rise to begin our training day. It's nice to have a soothing song like that at 4:30 a.m to put you in the right mindset for the first session.

Why such an early rise? Well, the first session begins at 5:30 and we have built a coffee wake-up and talk into our routine. It provides that little extra warm-up and kick-start that is a good coping mechanism from the possible stiffness and drowsiness resulting from yesterdays training.

This morning the day began with a swim. We have rocked up with what we would call the "Ironman look": The walk is a shuffle and your eyes are a bit sunken in. The humidity is high and our biggest challenge to backing up sessions is re-hydrating.

Lisa Bentley, as she is a positive, bubbly person, is jealous of our 3K main swim set, despite her fatigue from her three-hour tempo ride and two-hour tempo run the day before. That kind of attitude would cause some people to think, "She must be nuts!" But we know it as her just loving the work, and encouraging us to feel the same and focus on pushing on!

It is so important to go into each workout with an open mind, as how many times have you felt great in warm-up only to feel quite short of flash in the main set, and vice versa? So that relaxation of coming in and letting it unfold is something of a struggle. You play the role and use your teammates to help push yourself, trying at all costs to not compare, but to use them to get the most out of yourself. Finishing strong and focused, you can put that session in your bag of stored workouts and move on to the next one.

Meal Time

Breakfast! It is almost like meals are sessions in our day, which is a crazy thought, but with sport, proper nutrition is so important. Quite often we can be nitpicky about our weight, which has relevancy to a certain degree, but it changes from day to day due to hydrating factors or mind-altering tiredness. So it is of utmost importance to remind ourselves that our routine determines our appearance and it is not necessary to evaluate our appearance on a day-to-day basis.

When comments about appearance arise, it is nice to have our group on the same wavelength to put things back into perspective. The focus should remain on the big picture, making sure our caloric intake can keep up with the expenditures, and that there is proper replenishing going on.

Lucy Smith, our squad's strongest duathlete/runner, falls into the "eat to train" category in my theory of how most triathletes train to eat instead of eating to train. Finding the foods that work for us is very important. So after this first session, I have my concoction of yogurt and protein powder with flaxseed oil mixed in. Greg Bennett goes for the chug-style of replenishing the muscles and mixes his protein powder with mere H2O.

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