Whether you are training for a triathlon or for your next ultra-marathon, making mistakes will undoubtably impede your training progression. To train effectively, you will need to know about the most common mistakes so that you can avoid them.
1. Lack of training periodisation
In any endurance training, there needs to be an element of differentiation throughout the year. Doing a ‘bit of everything’ all year long, instead of following specific training phases, will only provide very limited benefits and fitness improvements. In triathlon, for example, the winter ‘off’ season’ should be utilised to build a solid base level of foundational fitness and strength before moving on to a more race-specific programme in the spring.
2. Training too hard, all of the time
A common mistake that individuals make is believing that a session is wasted if it isn’t hard. As a result, most of their workouts will fall into the same ‘moderately hard’ category. This type of workout should actually be avoided as it provides very little fitness return on your training investment. The ‘moderately hard’ category also results in high levels of fatigue and thus the inability to actually train hard, in a well-planned and structured way. High-intensity training like VO2 max and anaerobic capacity workouts are essential to achieve performance improvements but you will never hit these levels if you try to push every session.
By training too hard, athletes also fail to train at a lower intensity which can bring about many physiological benefits. These lower-intensity workouts can also be combined with form and drill workouts, an excellent way to maximise your time spent training by accomplishing more than one goal at a time.
3. Focusing on a ‘magic’ number
Too many times athletes focus on the number of training miles (or hours), instead of quality. This approach only results in an unhealthy addiction with exercise and copious amounts of fatiguing junk miles that have little performance benefit.
4. Unclear goals or objectives
It is important to have clear objectives and expectations, that are based on your performance metrics like heart rate, pacing and power. The more fact-based they are, the better. Once you have defined your objectives and where your fitness improvements should come from, you can then determine what training plan and structure will be required to achieve these goals and measure your progress.
5. Not considering practicalities
Once your goals and objectives are in place, you will need to temper them with a practical view; there is no point in creating a plan that is not feasible. Think about the time you have, budget, and facilities available before deciding what is achievable.
Do not let perfect get in the way of great!
6. Doing it all alone
Training is a great opportunity to engage with fellow athletes. There is something to be said about the power of working with a group or training partner to increase motivation and performance.
Athletes do not always appreciate the importance of recovery and the physiological adaptation that takes place during this time, but it is an essential component of training. Recovery weeks, rest days and taper weeks have a specific purpose and should not be ignored. Ignoring them will result in a training plateau before fitness declines.
8. Poor form
Maximum athletic performance can only be achieved when someone’s physiological efficiency and mechanical efficiency are at their best. It is important to work on your form and technique to ensure that your muscles are activating at the correct intensity, in the correct order, with the correct range of motion.
9. Not fuelling correctly
Training requires the appropriate nutrition in order to maintain performance and prevent injury. This is quite a complex component of training and requires some element of trial and error to get it 100% right. Often, much like their training, athletes will focus too much on specific nutritional practices, that have marginal gains, and neglect the fundamentals. Ultimately, no amount of beetroot juice and intermittent fasting is going to overhaul a poor diet.
Initially, focus on consuming enough calories in a well-balanced manner and taking on enough fluid and electrolytes, before progressing to a more complex outlook on sports nutrition. If you are looking to move things on to the next level, seek professional advice and avoid adopting circulating fads.
10. Taking it too seriously
Too often than not, athletes can get all-consumed with their sport and lose sight of why they started in the first place, for the enjoyment. Remember to always keep it fun.
About the author: Laura Smith is an athlete who has been a Sundried ambassador since 2017.
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