3 crucial elements to endurance racing success, by PB3

November 10, 2017

Here are some training tips from Super Tri Coach Chris Hanrahan of PB3 Coaching.

Endurance racing and training success is unique to everyone. Part of the fun of training and racing, is figuring out the unique blend that works for you as an individual when combined with your unique set of limitations (age, work life, family commitments). For all of us the struggle is real in getting that daily balance just right – our own little recipe for long term success and then building on it season upon season, looking for the incremental success either in race results or in our training times. But whilst there is a unique blend for each person, there are tried and tested protocols that are common to great athletes. What can we learn from studying the habits of those successful athletes that defy age, and continue to develop year on year? Here are just 3 common ones that can easily be implemented and will reap rewards immediately:

1. Form before fast – many endurance athletes don’t take the time to develop their skills or learn their craft properly to their long-term detriment. With the removal of a qualifying process for almost all Ironman’s these days, many view these huge races as “bucket list” events, entering them without paying their dues in an endurance sense. Aerobic, neural and muscular development all suffer when big mileage is applied to a body that is not ready for it. The great thing about a qualifying process was that it often took 3 or 4 attempts at shorter distances before you got fast enough, meaning that you had to be patient and develop your speed and strength over 2 to 3 seasons, honing skills and working on efficiency. Small amounts of technique incorporated within sessions give great bang for buck, aid focus towards the session, and develop motor skills necessary for long term success. Try adding small but purposeful little bouts of technique within your sessions:

  • 500m of technique within a 3k swim set
  • Running drills incorporated within an easy aerobic run
  • Learn to ride the rollers on the bike to help develop a smooth pedal stroke and greater appreciation for your core

2. Know your key sessions and nail them – much of endurance training can be termed mileage. These are aerobic and semi-specific sessions that are used to underpin the key sessions that you will do towards your specific event. Mileage varies depending on coach and the athlete’s ability, but as it underpins the important work, it will mostly be done at somewhere between an easy and a steady state level. In most successful programs this sort of mileage will make up around 80% of a good program. Knowing how to nail the other 20%, and hitting those sessions fresh is your key to long term speed and strength. Many athletes hit the 80% aerobic work too hard, and so when it gets to the 20% important stuff, they are cooked. Or worse, they don’t know what the key sessions are. There will generally only be 2 or 3 key sessions each week and it is crucial that you know what they are, where they fit within a macro view of your overall goal, and what success looks like to you on completing that session.

3. Keep a training diary – how are you going to know where you are going, if you don’t know where you have been? Training diaries are crucial journals of your achievements but more importantly, your mistakes! IF working with a coach, they are windows into how you operate, what works for you and what doesn’t, and they are great at cutting through the crap. They are the harsh black and white of your training and racing and make for great critical analysis. I do not know a single successful athlete that does not have a training diary! It should include weight, hours slept, mood, HR, and then performance statistics as well within the sessions themselves. Over a period, they become excellent evaluation tools that will hold you accountable and help develop motivation. One thing I like to do with athletes in race week, is have them review over the past months all the amazing training they have delivered on, the sacrifices they have made, the key sessions that they nailed. Nothing gives a nervous athlete more confidence in their ability then to look back on all of the mini achievements, the small wins that have been done in the lead up.

These 3 tips form part of 10 overall tips that I work with daily with my performance squad. If you want more information, feel free to contact me at [email protected]

Chris Hanrahan is a Nationally Accredited Performance Coach who runs PB3, a bespoke triathlon service suited to driven and motivated athletes looking to train towards goal events with likeminded people. Programming and squad sessions are specifically tailored towards athletes that are training towards upcoming goal events.


Chris Hanrahan
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