If you have been following what I have been up to, you will know that a couple of years ago I added cycling to my training regime and stepped into the world of triathlon. Today I want to tell you about my marginal gains this year.
If you follow cycling, you will have heard how the SKY cycling team have based their last few years’ amazing results using the principal of marginal gains. I won’t go into it in too much detail, you can read about it here. In brief, they examined all aspects of what they did and came to the conclusion that if they improved everything a little bit, then they could aggregate the small improvements into big gains. They did this very successfully. I watched a documentary about this and was amazed to learn that they even took mattresses, sheets and pillows with them so that they could get a good night’s sleep.
So even though I didn’t look at every aspect of my triathlon training and performance in so much detail, I have done quite a few things this year that started as marginal gains but turned out to produce quite a big improvement in my performance.
This is what I have done:
I have to say I was a bit skeptical about this one, but I had the chance to take a few lessons with Marjon of Swim Fantastic. I have been a strong swimmer since I was at school, so I didn’t think it was worth spending much time on it when it was clear that my cycling was where I could make the most improvement. I thought that she would tweak a few things and I might gain 10-20 seconds over 1.5km. I was therefore pretty surprised to be shown a whole new way of swimming and improving my 1.5km swim by 2 minutes. This was after only 2 lessons! What I liked about this method was that it is all about making your body move better which fits really well with Biomechanics Coaching.
Being a Biomechanics Coach, I used my knowledge of movement and realised that I could make myself a bit more efficient. Here is what I looked like when I got tired at a marathon I ran at the end of 2012.
I have been really focusing on keeping my chest more open. I also noticed that my left shoulder blade didn’t move much when I swung my elbow back, so I try to think about that too when I am running. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good side photo but here is me running on Saturday’s sprint triathlon. Don’t you think I look more efficient?
I hate planning my own training. There, I said it. I find it hard to be subjective and I have been known to wander into the gym with no clear plan of what I am going to do. I love planning for my clients but, well, sometimes I need a helping hand, just like everyone else. Having had a good marathon/ultra marathon programme written by a running coach, I was looking for something similar for triathlon this year. And I actually ended up with something better. I have been working with Matt of Endurance Rebel and guess what? Investing in an expert in their field pays off. The biggest gain here was with the cycling. I cycled with an average pace of 25.9 km/h at my first sprint triathlon 2 years ago and on Saturday I cycled at an average pace of 31 km/h, which is a huge gain. On top of that, I’ve also improved my swim time and run time.
Of course, using my own expertise has helped me too. On Saturday I achieved my Personal Best run for a 5km. And I don’t mean my fastest 5km time in a triathlon (after the swim and cycle) I mean my fastest 5km ever! I am always doing exercises to release muscle spasms and making sure that I am stabilising and conditioning my body. If you are interested in finding out what you can improve in your movement to help your performance, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feeling the burn
This year I was competing in a team with the triathlon and cycling club ATAC. Before the first triathlon I had to practice cycling with 3 much faster cyclists. To be honest, I was terrified to be cycling with these girls who were training for much longer distances than me and had more experience. But in the end it was a great experience and they taught me that I can keep cycling even though it burns like hell. And I took this knowledge with me to my cycling training sessions and pushed myself further than I had before.
So, as you can see, lots of little things can add up to a lot.
What are my marginal gains going to be for triathlon in 2016?
Well I will be going right out of my comfort zone and purchasing tri-bars and tri-shoes for my bike as well as working on my cornering skills. And I’ll be working on pacing in the swimming pool. I touched on it at my last swimming lesson but I still have to put it into action.
But first I am putting my feet up for a bit before training for a marathon.