Now that we are approaching the height of triathlon season, I find that form is a critical component of increasing your chance of an injury-free season. While the base phase of training is a perfect time to change body composition, increase strength and improve form/weakness's, it is never too late to work on the little things that will make a big affect in your race day performance. Knowing that I have many "fitness enthusiasts" that read my blog, this blog post is not limited to only those who train for a finish line.
One of the many beauties of triathlons is that almost anyone can do it. If you can swim from point A to B you have 1/3rd of it covered. If you can ride a bike you have the other 1/3rd covered. And for the last 1/3rd, all you have to do is walk fast if you want to reach the finish line. For in triathlons, it's not about the fastest athlete but who slows down the least. So if you can keep your body moving for swim-bike-run, you can consider yourself a triathlete.
Now on the downside, almost anyone can teach themselves how to move their arms in the water, how to pedal a bike and how to turn a walk into a run. Unfortunately, many athletes progress in the sport of triathlon (or individually in swim, bike and/or run) without ever really learning "proper" form. But nevertheless, athletes are quick to spend thousands of dollars on coaching plans, expensive bikes and fancy running shoes/gear. Not to mention the endless supply of sports nutrition products available to athletes, claimed to provide the "perfect mix of amino acids, complex carbohydrates and electrolytes" to reduce fatigue, improve VO2 max, improve endurance, buffer lactic acid, provide steady energy, reduce post exercise soreness, ensure proper hydration, reduce body fat, stimulate your workout, diminish pain".....should I go on?
Over the past year, I have tried devote much of my exercise routine to good form. Sadly, weak muscles have prevented me from doing just that. As much as I wanted/tried to work on my form, my dominant muscles (quads) would get extremely tired. Therefore, rather than thinking that I had to pound more miles in order to get faster, I took myself into the weight room to build strength. For me, in order to develop good form, my training entailed many hours of the past few months to improving weak muscles (primarily my hips, glutes and hamstrings). Once I gained strength (which has been noticeable, rewarding and a big relief to the prior constant pain in my lower back), I was able to really work on my running form. With improved running form and the previous retul bike fit, both my cycling and running have felt better than ever before. As for the swim...you probably know that I come from a swimming background (high school and college) and that I was a fish in a former life. However, I continue to work on my swimming form by adding Master Swim classes at the Brooks Y and having my coach periodically evaluate my form (especially when we do distance and speed sets).
I would like to provide 3 great links/videos that you will find helpful in improving your form. The run video was featured at the run clinic that I attended last Wed (Hammerhead triathlon club monthly meeting) so I have to give a big thanks to Owen S. for sharing the video and providing an excellent talk on running form.
(easy tips to focus on in your next swim session)
Importance of high cadence
(Basic concept, increase cadence. However, you must be patient when working on it as it won't happen overnight)
simple steps to good running form
(Something to focus on before and during EVERY run)