Get Schooled—Swim Like a Fish1 of 9
If you want to improve your swim technique, swim frequently and get coached. Though it can be intimidating at first, training in a group with swimmers will reward you with valuable swim skills. When swimming with a masters group, you'll get technical swim coaching, learn pool etiquette and develop comfort and skills useful when swimming in crowds.
IM Does not Mean IRONMAN2 of 9
Photo/JD Lassica, Flickr
When swimmers refer to "IM," they don't mean a triathlon; they're referring to "individual medley" (of the four swim strokes). Swimming varied strokes—backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and as well as freestyle—will help you acquire a better feel for the water. If you don't already know how, learning to flip turn will allow you to swim longer, continuous sets without interruption. Plus, doing flip turns is a good approximation of the pace you'll be able to hold in open water while wearing a wetsuit.
Want to take it a step further? Challenge yourself to participate in a swim meet. Competing in a long-distance swim event, from 500 yards to 1500 meters, is a fun way to prepare for the swim portion of a tri, making you more confident when you finally toe the line on race day.
Sitting in on the Bike3 of 9
Photo/Pieter Smits, Flickr
Breakaway Racing coach Todd Lippin, who has guided athletes to age group victories at the IM 70.3 world championship and podiums in Kona, says, "There are subtle advantages for [multisport athletes and cyclists] training together. An experienced cyclist or coach is able to demonstrate and explain the proper lines to take through turns, proactive and efficient shifting and adjusting positioning on the bike to navigate rough roads."
Though we think about triathlons as being solo efforts, race courses are often crowded, and being comfortable handling your bike around others will help you stay calm while keeping your pace high.
Ride Lots and Have Fun4 of 9
Try a gran fondo; rides of 50K to 100 miles are a rewarding experience and great prep for cycling in a multisport race. Do you have the need for speed? Enter a cycling time trial to test yourself against the clock, as well as your technical bike-handling prowess. If you have a triathlon bike, racing time trials will give you additional opportunities to practice going hard in an aero position.
Big Miles Pay Off5 of 9
Photo/Josiah Mackenzie, Flickr
"Most triathletes don't run often enough to adequately support their triathlon goals," Accellerate 3 coach Brian Stover says. "The number one thing triathletes can do is to find a running group and train like a runner."
Stover believes that "in the offseason, triathletes should train like a runner for 3 to 4 months." Increase your run frequency to six or seven runs a week, a more beneficial method to increasing volume than simply upping your mileage each individual run, according to Stover.
Run Around and Around (and Around)6 of 9
Join a running group. The social aspects of running make even the hardest miles go by faster. Doing speed work with a group will improve your running economy, and you'll discover just how much you can to push yourself at the end of a race.
In many places, running races happen year round. Give a road race a try, and see how fast your legs can carry you when you're not just off the bike.
But What About "Bricks"?7 of 9
Photo/Jeff W. Gates
In the off-season, when you're training like a single-sport athlete, you won't need to worry about doing a "brick" workout. Building up a solid base is just as important as practicing the different transitions and running off the bike or cycling after a swim.
French Creek Racing coach and pro triathlete John Kenny suggests tri newbies practice running off the bike often. As you become more confident with your training, you won't need to do as many brick sessions.
Keep Things Simple and Learn Quickly8 of 9
Pro triathlete Holly Benner feels that "being a triathlete is nuanced, compared with being a single-sport athlete, but gaining experience and learning from others who have mastered one specific sport is a great way to learn quickly."