All about triathlon training with our physio Matt

Matt has completed a number of triathlons. Here we have a chat with Matt all about triathlon training and his tips and tricks to succeed!

Q.  How to get organised for your training, swimming, cycling, and running? How do you organise when to train for each one?

In the early phases of my training, I try and incorporate as many of these into my daily routine as possible. For example, cycling to work, or getting the train in the morning and then running home afterwards. For swimming I try to get into the pool a couple of mornings a week before work but the 6am alarms are tough! As I get closer to events I try to complete “brick” sessions which are back-to-back sessions, usually cycling then running, and I find these really help me to feel prepared. I work shifts so try and plan my training a few weeks ahead at a time to make sure I’m covering the basics. I also think 1-2x strength sessions per week are key for maintaining good muscle health and preventing injuries – this was probably the thing I underappreciated until recently. 

Q.  How much time per week do you dedicate for training?

Now I’m training for an Ironman which is very time consuming! I’m aiming for about 9-10 hours per week but the key for me is being consistent and trying to slowly build week on week. For shorter triathlons I think 5-6hours per week is probably okay depending on your base level of fitness.

Q.  What are your goals when you train?

To get around in one piece! Well at least that was my main goal to begin with. Right now, I’m trying to slowly build on fitness and build up my mileage every few weeks for running and cycling. I’ve cut back on swimming distance a little and am working on technique and drills as it’s my worst event.

Q.  What do you find drives you?

I’m motivated by watching other people doing things and then thinking “I can do that.” I also get bored quite easily and so find that by changing events and distances it keeps me engaged and wanting to do more.

Q.  Diet and Nutrition

Up until recently diet and nutrition was something I paid very little attention to. I’ve always tried to eat healthy and have generally tried to cut down my consumption over recent years but didn’t worry too much about what I was eating. Now my goals have changed, and I’ve started taking this a little more seriously. There are certain dishes like pasta or gnocchi I know work well with my body (and stomach!) so I eat those before big training sessions. I have also started to use a protein supplement to help me achieve my daily protein goals and aid recovery. However, food is something I really enjoy and so if I want to eat certain things I will do! A long training session will burn 3000-4000 calories, so I tend to not feel too guilty.

Q.  Mental vs physical challenges

As my distances have increased, I think they have started to become more psychological. Obviously, I need to be fit enough and strong enough but after 5+ hours of exercise I think it becomes equally more of a mental battle than purely physiological. I try to vary my routes and keep them as scenic as possible, so time passes quicker as I watch the trees and animals. Luckily, I live close to Richmond Park and the Surrey Hills so easy access into nice places – this definitely helps me!

Q.  What recovery techniques do you use?

Sleep. Eat. Hydrate. Absolutely key. I use a foam roller quite a lot after long runs and rides which seems to help me. But really the key for me is getting good sleep and rest! I’ve tried things like compression garments, but I personally didn’t find them that helpful.

Q.  The week before

I try to stay as calm as I can. I know that there’s not too much in that week that I can do to boost my fitness levels so it’s all about preparing. I like to get all my kit out in plenty of time and make lists to ensure it’s all packed and I haven’t forgotten anything. I’m taking part in my first European triathlon this year and so that adds some complexity in terms of flights and packing my bike up, but I think good organisation and not leaving it all to the last minute will help. 

Q.  On the day

I guess I have a sort of routine, but essentially, I don’t do anything I haven’t done before! I like to shower to feel awake and then try to have a good breakfast – usually porridge, bananas, peanut butter, and some rice crackers. I used to drink coffee but now I find I just need to pee quicker so have stopped that now! And then once you’re ready to go the feeling is a mixture of anxiety, apprehension, and adrenaline. As soon as I cross the line, I keep telling myself I’m about to have a good race and try to enjoy it as much as possible!

A special thank you to Matt for taking the time to give us a fantastic insight into his training methods. Inspirational to all of us!

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