Category Archives: Running

The Importance of Positive Triathlon Motivation

There was a time that triathlon was a reasonably marginal sport. A sport some of us had heard of but really didn’t know that much about. Yet over the last decade, Triathlon has become far less of a marginal sport as it’s exploded into the mainstream, being featured on some of the most widely viewed terrestrial channels cross the globe – a true endorsements of it’s new found popularity.

Triathlon has become known as the ultimate test of physical and mental fitness, and as such has become an accolade of true motivation and achievement amongst numerous recreational and weekend athletes. From competitive business professionals to company MD’s it has become popular with those looking to push their bodies to the limits of physical exertion and to prove something to themselves and to others.

However, many of these naturally competitive people who become focused on competing in triathlon often find it a difficult pursuit to keep up. Juggling work and family life whilst training for 3 different sporting disciplines requires a high degree of both physical and mental motivation in order to be successful. Yet for many, finding a healthy balance can be difficult and even disastrous for some. Zach Wallace, an elite personal trainer and triathlete coach at MotivatePT says, “Many people allow their intense motivation to cloud their judgement. Motivation is of course essential in any sporting discipline, but it can also lead to tunnel-vision and dangerous over-training. I have seen many recreational exercisers who have been so motivated to achieve their fitness goals that they have defiantly ignored their body and pushed themselves to exercise when their body is in pain or they’re mentally exhausted. There is absolutely nothing to be gained from a poor workout session except disappointment and potential injury. Some of the world’s most successful triathletes understand the balance of when they need to train, when to spend time with family or to simply rest.”

Motivation can be a great thing, but it has also been known to ruin successful sporting careers. Many sports professionals simply think that if they’re not training, and their competitors are, then they are giving the competition the upper hand. This in turn leads to a dangerous spiral of excessive (and obsessive) training caused by a motivation to be the best. This kind of mindset forces many to stick blindly to their training plan come thick or thin, when in fact the most successful athletes actually know precisely when to follow their plan and when to alter the training schedule in favour of something lighter or even a rest day.

Wallace describes the need to set attainable SMART goals. This focuses on setting goals that are specific and achievable, whilst remaining realistic within the confines of time. Athletes should ask themselves what exactly they are trying to achieve as well as identifying possible constraints. Going into a training program understanding this gives the athlete a clearly defined ‘positive’ motivation and an action-plan that can be adjusted when needs arise.

It’s been famously reported that a number of the world’s most successful African long distance runners may take two weeks off in the middle of pre-race training just to rest, simply because they listen to thier bodies and feel the need for a time-out. Unfortunately many recreational triathletes don’t have this patience or indeed presence of mind and they allow their motivation to take over and to push them blindly on regardless of how they feel.

The lesson learned is that motivation is of course essential and a great thing when channelled correctly. As such we often talk about positive and negative motivations; one that pushes us to achieve our goals in a practical and sensible manner, and the other which pushes us beyond what is considered safe or healthy. What we all want is to harness the power of positive SMART motivation. Of course we should all have a training schedule to follow, but we need to use common sense when balancing triathlon with our physical wellbeing. Being able to adjust, adapt and reassess our motivations is essential for any athlete’s long term success. The key to longevity in triathlon is looking after our bodies and making gradual progress that allows us to not only compete regularly but most importantly to enjoy our triathlons year in, year out.

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Triathlon Training Exercises

When it comes to training for a triathlon, there are many different exercises that you need to take care of. Quite simply, you will need to get in the pool and swim, you will need to run and you will need to get on your bike and cycle. These are the three main elements and developing your skills and confidence in these areas is essential if you are looking to successfully complete a triathlon. However, while it is important to get active on Tri bikes and to swim, there are plenty of strength exercises that can help you to get fitter faster in time for your big race.

Given that you will want to focus on swimming, running and cycling, you may struggle to find time for other exercises, but two 30 minute sessions a week can bring brilliant results. These triathlon training exercises will boost you in time for the big race.

Speed Push-ups

These push-ups are ideal for triathlon training as they vastly improve the pushing power of your upper body. This will be extremely useful for making a strong start in the swimming section and it will help you to take on steep climbs on your bike.

Chin Ups

Whether using a door frame, a climbing bar or a chin-up machine in the gym, adding this style of training to your regime will be of great benefit to anyone looking to take part in a triathlon. This style of exercise is helpful if you are looking to develop the muscles in your upper back. This will help you to develop a stronger stroke when swimming and it will improve your posture in the running section of the event.

Alternating Dynamic Lunges

This simple process, lunging with one leg and then the other, will provide you with great support when it comes to training for a triathlon. This style of training will help to keep your hips in good condition and it should also provide support to your lower back by strengthening your glutes. A stronger lower back area will help to minimise the risk of injury that can come from sitting in the bike saddle for too long.

Stability-Ball Speed “Olympic Diver” Crunches

Crunches are a very popular and worthwhile form of exercise but this particular method adds a little bit more to the routine. This is a stricter form and it will help you to keep a straight spine while you are working on your core. This will help you to maintain better form when running and it should provide you with a shape that is more streamlined when you swim.

Stability-Ball Dumbbell Overhead Presses

A stability ball is a great tool when training for a triathlon and it can enhance many training methods and exercises. This style of exercise will help to improve the strength and stability of your shoulders. This will be of considerable benefit during the cycling and swimming stages.

While it is important to train in the disciplines that make up the big triathlon event, developing your strength will provide substantial benefits to all participants.

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Make the most of winter, by training indoors for your triathlon

Training for a triathlon is hard work, and regardless of whether you’ve just completed your first race or have dozens of competitions under your belt, you’ll know the determination it takes to succeed. With the three core skills of swimming, cycling and running essential to being able to complete a triathlon successfully, it’s vital that every one of these disciplines is finely tuned. The winter months can be depressing, particularly if you’re a fan of training outdoors. However, there are many activities you can enjoy in an LA Fitness London gym to maintain your enthusiasm and keep your body in peak condition.

The start of the winter months officially end the triathlon season, and you might find yourself wondering what to do. It’s the perfect opportunity to take some time out and recover, both physically and mentally. You won’t be actively training for a particular event, so as long as a good base fitness level is maintained, you can afford to spend time with friends and family, reduce your exercise and even indulge in a few festive treats.

At this time of year, you can do a large range of activities to build core fitness. These don’t necessarily have to be race-specific, and you can dabble in areas such as Pilates and weight lifting, or enjoy different levels of spin classes which are offered at LA Fitness gym locations. Activities, such as rock climbing, are also a fun way to stay fit whilst building core strength, and there’s a great climbing centre in Mile End so you don’t even need to travel outside London to enjoy this hobby.

As you take time away from race-specific activities, it’s still a good idea to run, swim and cycle at least once a week. This ensures your conditioning for these disciplines remains at a comfortable level so that when you start commence triathlon training in the spring, you’re not starting from scratch. Both running and cycling are great activities to get the heart racing and keep you warm, so there’s no reason to abandon outdoor training altogether. London has a large variety of parks, and Green Park, Regents Park and Hampstead Heath are ideal locations to train on days when the weather’s good.

Whilst you can relax your training a little during the winter months, it’s still a good idea to aim for at least five or six days of exercise every week. Your workout sessions don’t have to be long; under an hour a day in most cases. You might like to space out your swimming, running and cycling on alternate days, filling the gaps with weight sessions, yoga exercises for flexibility and spin classes. Winter is also an ideal time to allow a little fluidity into your training regime. For example, if you have an hour’s run scheduled but you’re invited on a weekend away to do some hiking, take the opportunity to get away from London and indulge in something new.

You might be daunted by the months of downtime ahead, and without a clear race date, it can be hard to keep your motivation going. However, if you get into the right mindset and use these coming few months as a time to plan 2014 and keep a nice base fitness level, you’ll find that next year’s training is much easier. There are plenty of outside locations in London to run and cycle, whilst you can use an LA Fitness London gym to access pools, spin classes and weights to keep you in peak condition for 2014.

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How To Pick The Right Running Shoes

The vast majority of running related injuries in endurance athletes can be attributed to poor footwear. Trainers that are not the correct type, are not fit for purpose or are not properly fitted are virtually inviting injury and can put training plans back weeks or months if not replaced. Follow these top tips to help pick the right shoes for you as well as ways to protect yourself from running related injuries

Pick the Correct Shoe Type

Many people are unaware that trainers come in several different types. Support trainers are made specially for people who have collapsed arches or flat feet and seek to prevent the foot from tilting inwards or pronating whilst running. “Control” running shoes seek to prevent the foot from rolling outward on impact and are suitable for people with high arches. Lastly, neutral running shoes are made for people with a normal running gait that means they need no additional pronation support or control.

Although at first glance most trainers may appear to look essentially the same, beneath the hood they are sophisticated and technologically advanced beasts that can make or break a running career.

If you don’t know what shoes are correct for your running style and gait then the best thing to do is to head to your local specialist running store for a fitting. The staff at the store will more than likely make you run on a treadmill in order to analyze your stride. Following your consultation they will recommend a few pairs of shoes that are suited to your style and most will even allow you to take the shoes back to the store if you have problems during your first few weeks

If you have collapsed arches but already have a pair of trainers then there is good news. Instead of rushing out and buying a brand new pair of top of the range shoes you can simply place some good insoles into your current pair of specialist running trainers. Flat feet insoles provide support for collapsed arches, meaning you can help prevent running injuries without having to spend a fortune. For insoles and fallen arches treatment see the simplyfeet.co.uk website

Take Care Of Your Trainers

Trainer care is important. If you are a serious distance runner then chances are that you are running four to six days a week and sometimes twice a day. It is not uncommon for marathon runners to clock up in excess of 50 miles a week in training runs and it is this distance that can place your body and your trainers under exponential stress.

The cushioning in your shoes is compressed every time that your foot strikes the ground as it soaks up the vibrations and impact that running causes. If you don’t give your trainers time to rest between runs then the cushioning doesn’t have adequate time to re-inflate. This can lead to poor shock absorption on subsequent runs, leading to higher amounts of vibrations passing into your body and a higher risk of injury.

To reduce the risk if injury from overworked trainers it is a good idea to have a backup pair of trainers that you can cycle between during your week. If this is not an option then another trick is to try and run on less impact generating surfaces such as grass and trails instead of concrete and roads.

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