No matter if you are a triathlete, marathon runner, cyclist, swimmer, 5km racer, or other, there are training principles that apply to all endurance sport athletes. These may not be flashy recommendations, but they're solid, foundational principles that you NEED to follow to achieve success in your sport. I really wish someone had pulled this together for me when I was beginning my racing journey.
CORE PRINCIPLE #1 - BE CONSISTENT. Improvement requires consistent, gradual, progressive exercises that build on each other over days, weeks, months and years. The most difficult part for a working individual is finding a consistent schedule that works for you AND YOUR PARTNER/FAMILY. (Remember, your sport is fun, not a relationship-breaker. Your race medal won't cuddle you at night, or make you soup when you're sick. Be on the same page with your people).
Find consistency in your training plan, your diet, your sleep schedule. New habits can be formed in 21 days. Body composition, speed, and strength take longer. Patience is required and so is consistent effort. Long course racing requires you to be boringly consistent, and boringly repetitive.
CORE PRINCIPLE #2 - PAIN IS MENTAL... LEARN TO MANAGE IT. Now, I'm not referring to musculoskeletal injury here, I'm referring to the mental battle going on in your head. The mental game is the biggest area of untapped potential for a lot of athletes. There are always 2 conversations going on in our heads... I CAN do this, I CAN'T DO THIS. Train yourself to be mentally prepared and focused on the task, EVERY SINGLE TRAINING SESSION.
CORE PRINCIPLE #3 - BE PREPARED. Know your training and life schedule for the days and weeks ahead so there will be no surprises for you or your family. Always have your equipment and apparel, ready to go. This means having your nutrition, gear, bike, hydration set up before you go to bed. Organization is the key to efficiency.
Your body must also be prepared to train. This means maintaining it! Get injuries treated promptly, stay hydrated throughout the day, stretching, sleeping, and restoration time/recovery post workouts. Remember- there is no such thing as over-training, only under-recovering.
CORE PRINCIPLE #4 - TRAIN SMART. Train specific to YOUR BODY and YOUR SPORT, not what others/friends are doing. Athletes love sexy and entertaining workouts, but endurance training must be boringly consistent and boringly repetitive to be successful. Train in race-like conditions. If you are training LSD (long slow distance), you're going to race long and slow. If you don't have a training strategy, you're wasting your time. You can't just wake up in the morning and expect to do well, you have to plan it. Most people are unable to create an effective and efficient training plan on their own. If you're serious about success, FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN ASSESS YOUR BODY AND PLAN YOUR TRAINING.
Happy training my friends!