things go wrong in Triathlon

When things go wrong in Triathlon

Posted on Posted in Coach's Diary

things go wrong in TriathlonOh they will!  

Things go wrong in Triathlon... what makes a successful Triathlete is what they do when it happens. 

If I add up all the things I have done wrong during a Triathlon it would be a long list.  I have made mistakes in coaching, training and racing.  The trick is to learn from those mistakes.  

"A life making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life doing nothing." - George Bernard Shaw

From my experience mistakes in triathlon training or races tend to happen for three main reasons:

  • Not practicing a particular skill
  • Not understanding instructions
  • Being afraid of something

Do you practice your skills?  Do you actually go out there and practice something?  Transitions, swim starts, cornering, descending... well do you?  Remember its not just practice which makes perfect... it is actually perfect practice which makes perfect.

Not understanding instructions... how many times have you gone the wrong way on a bike course?  Ever done too many laps on the run course?  Missed a dismount line?  Got the drafting zone wrong?  Simple things which can make all the difference to a race.

Back Yourself

What are you afraid of?  

Is it open water swimming?  Perhaps descending on a bike?  Frightened to try something new?

"If you want to conquer fear, don't sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy." - Dale Carnegie

How are you going to fix these things?  

A good coach will help you through all of these things. 

We practice our skills... whenever we get the opportunity... for example: feet in and out the shoes... every effort on the turbo.  As an athlete you need to read instructions, or attend a race briefing... make sure you understand what is being asked of you... if you are not sure, then ask!

If you are afraid of something, then you need to work on it.  You are competing in a sport which is going to challenge you.  If it was easy, then anyone would do it.  So what can you do?

Remember why you are doing this.  Rise to the challenge.  

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Then with your coach, break down the challenge into manageable chunks... work on those fears.  Scared of open water?  I would take you for a one to one session in some calm clear water... gradually building up that confidence.  Scared of going downhill quickly... lets start with a small hill.  Gradually building up.

But here is the thing... YOU have to put the work in.

I cannot ride your bike for you or do your swim for you... you will, at some point, still have to do it.  Time to step up is now... keep putting it off... you will run out of time before your big race!


Paul is a British Triathlon Federation Level 3 Coach based in Western Australia.  Paul is also an IRONMAN Certified Coach and a Triathlon Australia Development Coach.

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