Most of us started triathlon for the challenge, the fitness and the adventure. Keep up that sense of wonder and accomplishment this year by pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. It’ll make your 2017 exciting, of course, and it’ll also lead to long-term skill and performance gains.
Here are five ways to challenge yourself for the New Year:
1. Tackle a New Distance
Remember, “new distance” doesn’t have to equate to “longer distance.” Consider a super-sprint to focus on speed and fast transitions, or odd distance races—which feature atypical swim, bike or run leg distances. There are some races that are reverse order (run-bike-swim), or different multisport disciplines like duathlon (run-bike-run), aquathon (run-swim-run), splash and dash (swim-run) and aquabike (swim-bike). It can be fun and exciting to choose an event that emphasizes more distance in your strongest event, or omits your weakest event all together.
2. Pick a New Destination
It is one thing to sign up for a challenging event. It’s another to do it at an exciting destination that requires air travel. There is the obvious appeal of visiting somewhere exotic, with the potential fun of staying for a little vacation after the event. The other big upside of buying an airline ticket is that making the financial and logistical commitment to getting there often translates into an increased mental and physical commitment to preparing for the event.
3. Race a New Extreme Event
Fear is a great motivator. Consider a racecourse with extended climbing, extreme climates (hot or cold), or altitude. While you may be making hard “extra-hard,” the reward can also be “extra rewarding” when you get way outside your comfort zone. If you really want an epic challenge, you might consider Ultraman, a three-day stage race that in total doubles the Ironman distance and features the unique challenge of finishing the third day with a double marathon.
4. Race on New Terrain
Have you ever swum in the swells or surf of a tropical ocean, or perhaps in the glassy flat waters of mountain lake? XTERRA offers some exciting races with off-road mountain bike and trail running courses. Winter triathlon gets you off road and on skis. Learning new skills to race on varying terrain keeps you motivated and helps improve your technical abilities.
5. Tackle a New Single Sport Event
Training and racing single-sport events are a great way to focus on developing one element of your triathlon, while gaining a deeper understanding of that individual discipline. Running a winter marathon, for example, is a great endurance challenge, which can really help your triathlon run-leg in the summer. Cycling a Gran Fondo can move the needle on your bike fitness and technical ability. Mix it up further by taking it off-road for a trail run or a mountain bike race. Some more ideas: strive to qualify for a legendary event like the Boston Marathon, or try some open-water swimming races like Los Angeles’ 2-mile Pier to Pier.
Mix it up in 2017 to keep things fresh, improve your game, and keep your adventurous sport-spirit bright.
Lance Watson, LifeSport head coach, has trained a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 30 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. Contact Lance to perform at a higher level. For more training tips, visit LifeSport Coaching on Facebook or on Twitter at @Lifesportcoach.