Speed, Strength and Stamina: Balance in Triathlon
When you think of endurance triathlons then balance probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind. Speed, strength and stamina are probably high on the list of key race winning factors but none of that matters if you aren't balancing a number of different aspects in your training and racing.
The first obvious balance is between training and living. For those who aren't professional paid athletes, balancing 15 or more hours of exercise with a full time job and a family is no easy task. Even when your training sessions have been carefully planned and scheduled, the unexpected can happen and can leave your carefully constructed calendar in tatters as you seek to make up those all important 100 mile cycling sessions. Being frank with your family about your commitments early on in your training is key to winning support and maintaining that all important balance - but if your wife finds you cleaning your bike instead of picking the kids up from school then you might need to rethink your strategy!
Balance is also key when it comes to the day of your actual race. Gauging the equilibrium between too much and too little nutrition is something that every endurance triathlete has to contend with, and is also the single biggest cause of dropouts. Too little nutrition can cause your body to crash as it runs out of those all important complex carbohydrates needed for sustained performance, but equally, eating too much can cause you to be ill and waste all of those essential calories.
Equally as important is finding the perfect balance of speed and exertion. During the first few miles of the cycle and run section of a race, it is very tempting to increase your pace to a speed that is outside your comfort zone as there will be all manner of people flying past you as you exit transition. Keeping your cool at these all important points is vital as if gauged incorrectly, you can quickly burn through vital energy stores that you should have saved for much later in the race. Endurance triathlons are whole day events and so making up a few minutes here and there is not worth sacrificing for an easier ride later in the day.
Ross Middleton is a keen triathlete based in London. He is the editor of RuntheLine.com and RankMyTri.com as well as contributing to Metro Blogs.