FIVE TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR EFFICIENCY ON THE BIKE WATER BOTTLE PLACEMENT AND PRACTICE STAY STILL
THE BEST TRIATHLETES are not necessarily the fastest athletes. Typically they are the most efficient athletes. This becomes more evident as the length of a triathlon increases – Ironman is a race of efficiency, not of speed. We want to be efficient athletes. But what do we mean by “efficient?”
Efficiency = Useful Work / Total Work
Useful work is work that gets you swimming, biking and/or running faster. Total work is the sum of the useful work and all other (nonuseful) work being performed while you are trying to swim, bike and run faster. So what we want is to be able to produce more useful work and/or less total work when we swim, bike and run.
It is in every triathlete’s interest to improve their efficiency in each of the three disciplines. How do you improve efficiency? One of two ways: 1) increase the amount of useful work you perform when you swim, bike, and run, or 2) decrease the total work you perform during each. “Great,” you say. “How do I do that?” Consider these five suggestions to improve your efficiency on the bike this summer: Place your water bottles on your bike so that they are easy to access while riding. If your bottles are in an aerodynamically favourable position, but you can’t easily access them, your hydration will suffer and so, too, will your performance (both on the bike and on the run). Ease of access trumps aerodynamics. Focus on accessibility first, then work on aerodynamics. Doing so will ensure that you stay hydrated and start the run in a better physiological state. Staying hydrated helps you generate useful work throughout your race, which keeps your efficiency high.
When you are biking, be sure to move only what needs moving: your legs. Do not move what does not need moving: your head, torso and arms. (Aside from periodic postural adjustments, these areas need not move.) Do not move your legs laterally – you don’t want to ride bowlegged or knock-kneed unless you have an anatomic reason to. Do not needlessly alter your ankle position, (for example, dropping your heel on the downstroke and lifting your heel on the upstroke) and don’t pivot your foot side to side on the pedal throughout the stroke. You will preserve more energy for the