The 5 triathlon training tools of destruction

Nutrition, Running, Sports Nutrition, Swimming, Swimming Progression, swimming technique, Triathlon, triathlon swimming -

The 5 triathlon training tools of destruction

To start lets make it clear, there is certainly a time and place to use training tools.   Every training tool developed can be useful, however for the most part triathletes use training tools as a band-aid to cover up the weakness they simply find too painful to address.  Here are my top 5

Swimming pull buoy
When an athlete is coming to the pool and consistently using a pull buoy usually it is because the swimmer wants to avoid addressing kicking issues or poor body position in the water.  For elite athletes especially those racing long course it is understandable they will use this equipment more often as mega miles on the bike and run certainly blow out your legs, however most of the time these athletes can kick well if required. As a rule of thumb a pull buoy use should make up no more than 20% of the total swim set.  I.e in a 1km set that means a max of 200m, in a 5km set that is 1km.
Swimming/ kicking with flippers
Kicking is fundamental to the triathlon swimming stroke.   There is a huge difference in kicking with or without flippers.   A solid kick is going to allow a swimmer to maximize the most efficient phase of a freestyle stroke which is the hand entry & reach.  Freestyle swimming is as much about decreasing water resistance as it is about being powerful through the stroke.  As a general rule in any given swim session, at least 50% of kick sets need to be without flippers.  Top swimmers almost do not use flippers at all apart from very specific sets. 

'Barefoot' running shoes
Barefoot running/ running shoes are excellent occasionally, for runners who are conditioned, anatomically sound and not carrying too much weight. As a junior runner growing up at Takapuna Running club, we did not wear shoes at all.  We ran on a grass track all summer and then cross country all winter, barefoot.  At the time I weighed 35kg and everyday we were running around school shoeless!  On a personal level now I would not contemplate running barefoot now for the above mentioned reasons.
Unfortunately the media machine has taken these products and jumped on key functional benefits.  The main winners in this massive fad, have been physiotherapists, podiatrists and those who treat running injuries.  Barefoot running shoes certainly have exceptional benefits, however if you are not being closely monitored and prescribed sessions using this tool at the right time or if your at the right training level, the risk of injury is huge!  The negatives certainly outweighing the potential benefits for 95% of athletes.
Race equipment
It continually surprises me how many athletes are out there everyday on their race equipment.  Training is supposed to be tough! Trying to get speed benefits in training through using race day bike wheels, or running in racing flats on long runs is simply not helping you get better faster.

Sports nutrition
There is a phase in training that you definitely need to be practicing your race day nutrition.  This includes gels, electrolyte, bars and for those doing long course additional drinks like Ensure plus. As a general rule these items should be used in your speed phase 2-6 weeks out from a race to acclimatize your body to the nutrition plan for race day.  Prior to the speed phase, other than on very long rides and runs where you may need some amino/ electrolyte replacement you should be predominantly training with water at a low intensity.   'Running out of energy' and 'getting hungry' is a symptom of training too fast and also an underdeveloped body that is not efficiently using  fat for fuel.

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