The great triathlon fallacy!



Many athletes, inclucing my own, are deep into the motivational tools. Whilst my consciousness isn't concerned with a lot of these artificial types of tools, the training cliches are everywhere. The one that annoys me the most for our sport, I have to debunk because it really can kill performance. No Pain, No Gain!

Our sport is aerobic by its very nature, even the sprint takes an hour for pros. Thus except for the first 200m of the swim, which can be anaerobic, triathlon is about aerobic pace efficiency. This can be built, developed and maintained with an under the pain threshold approach.

Before I get trolled by shallow thinkers.., yes, there are different types of pain.

Pain that comes from pushing as best we can till we blow. Degrees of discomfort of repetitions that comes from the time/pace and distance. This is lobbed in with pain. I know pain, smashed in the face is pain.

Running a set of 400s, you might want to complete 20. But if you take off too fast and run the first 3 all out and blow up, finishing the next 17 is real pain. Athletes will tell me that they ran 20 however I disagree and tell them they ran 3. The last 17 in pain didn't have any adaption to what we wanted to achieve by doing 20. Next time if you want that then run 3 and go home because the last 17 is a total waste of your and my time.

In an Olympic distance race, athletes not only need to be able to run 25 of them at a pace they can hold throughtout, but also do it after navigating 80+ minutes of swim and bike before hand. No amount of the pain training of the first set above (3 all out, 17 pain) is going to have a positive effect for what we are trying to achieve. Understand that running the 20 in training at a comfortably-uncomfortable pace is superior. If you still have to give it to yourself, try and pick up the last 3. You are going to develop a much better outcome for your performance in an actual triathlon.

Thus no pain, no gain is a fictitious statement to have as your mantra in your triathlon training. If you're tired, you can still achieve great patterns of adaption, at sub-maximal effort.

Enjoy your training, don't make it a misery. Stick to the principles of what your sport requires. And it can be a pleasurable experience and you can still improve dramatically.


Just the way I see it.

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