I’ve been away from triathlon for four years, but I want to get involved again! I want to be back towards the top half of my age-group (40-44) for Olympic distance, but I’m currently nowhere near that level. How do I build back in without overdoing it?
JAMES TOLLEY, EMAIL
It’s great that you want to get back into triathlon, and that you’re aware overdoing it may be an issue. It might be best to start by setting some goals to manage your expectations as you get under way. You’ve targeted getting back into the top half of your age-group, but it’s important to define what that actually means.
Have a look at a few results from races you’re thinking of entering and browse over the times, remembering that all times are course-specific (a hilly bike course will obviously take longer than a flat one). You’ll then have an idea of the level you need to perform at to achieve your goals.
Next, plan out regular short-term goals that will gradually move you towards your long-term ambitions. Set some day-to-day or weekly goals that are easily achievable and fit into your other commitments in life, such as
Set clear goals and don’t rush it when coming back to tri after time away
training a certain number of times per week. By achieving the day-to-day/weekly goals on a repeated basis, the performance goals are more likely to come further down the line.
With regards to the physical training, depending on your involvement and ability level before you took time away, you might find that your early ambitions outstrip your current ability. This can be dangerous, as you could easily pick up injuries. Your muscles may remember what it was like to move at the speeds you were achieving before, but this may come back quicker than your actual fitness. This is frustrating, but use the improvement in movement skills as a positive – keep polishing them and, by doing so, your fitness will gradually increase. Pushing too hard, too soon is a very common cause of injury. Keeping things at a low intensity initially will help your body get familiar with training before you bring in some intensity 6-8 weeks down the line.
When you start the highintensity work, begin with short intervals and plenty of rest and then gradually build the duration of the intensity. Above all, consistency is key. Sticking to the regular day-to-day routine will gradually get you where you want to be.
STEPHEN WRIGHT, EMAIL
While you might want the option of putting your foot flat on the ground when you’ve stopped, this means your seat is too low and you’ll tire quicker. Your knee should be at a 25–35° angle when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal’s rotation (almost straight and just able to touch the ground with your toes), which you can measure with a device called a goniometer or judge with your eyes.
Can I use my MP3 player in a race? I like to run to a beat! CARLY LASHFORD, EMAIL
Not in any race under BTF rules. Section 8 of the BTF handbook states: “any equipment that acts as an impediment to hearing or concentration is prohibited from use during an event”, which includes mobiles and MP3s. If you’re caught still using one after being told to stop by an official, you will be disqualified.