Tackling a triathlon can be daunting, even for pro athletes. And if you’ve been training long and hard, you’ve definitely earned some bragging rights (not to mention a super fit body). And if you haven’t ever taken part in an event, but are interested in challenging yourself in this exciting way, we have all the essential information right here.
Cycling has many benefits (cardiovascular fitness – ideal for weight loss – and leg strength, and more). For those training for the Cape Town Cycle Tour, you have about 7 weeks to make sure you are getting out on the road. Tip: myvirginactive has some great training plans to help you prepare for race day right here.
Now, let’s check your training options at Virgin Active.
Virgin Active have various types of indoor bikes – spinning bikes, upright bikes, recumbent bikes and Wattbikes.
- The Wattbike would be your first choice as it is best able to replicate outdoor cycling compared with the other bikes. Read more about the Wattbike here.
- Spinning is very popular and it can be an effective means of improving your fitness on the bike. The classes are hugely motivational due to great instructors, awesome music and the group dynamic so you can often work much harder than if you were on your own.
- The upright exercise bike is another option which can improve your cycling, although it is different to a road bike set-up. How different?
- The recumbent exercise bike is the least similar to road cycling and isn’t an ideal training aid for a road race. It has also been shown that heart rate is lower when in the recumbent position compared to the upright position.
Remember: Indoor cycling alone is not sufficient training for a road race. Cycling on the road teaches you important road skills, how to ride in a group, gear selection and more.
For cycling terminology explained, read the full article on myvirginactive.
Running is one of the best ways to burn calories and lose weight. Anyone starting out running for the first time, or after an extended break, needs to build up gradually so the body can adapt to the stress of running. With that in mind, let’s look at the three different ways of getting your run on.
Treadmills, trails and tar
- Treadmill running can be a great way for beginners to start out, because you can control your speed and duration in a safe environment. Treadmills are also great for varying your training. The main difference between treadmill and tar? On the treadmill you are keeping up with speed of the treadmill as opposed to propelling yourself forward. Because of this, the recruitment of the posterior muscles (glutes, hamstrings and calves) is reduced so your biomechanics is altered compared to running outdoors. It is for this reason that it is best to limit your amount of treadmill running, but there is definitely a time and place for it. Tip: To make up for the lack of wind resistance when running on a treadmill, set the gradient at 1%.
- Trail running is usually a bit tougher than running on the road due to uneven ground and it can be hillier. Trail running improves proprioception (awareness of the position of one’s body) and ankle stability, but can also put you at risk for injury due to falling or tripping. Trail running is essential if you are going to be doing any trail races but it is also important if you are a road runner.
- Tar is one of the hardest surfaces you can run on but it is also usually the most convenient. For beginner runners, it’s easier than trail running, so it’s a good place to start. Tip: Try to stay on the pavements but if there aren’t any, it is best to run against traffic so that you can see any cars coming your way. Read more here.
For in-depth info on the different running shoes available and find the pair that suits you best.
Top running tips
- Aim to do a minimum of 3 runs a week, but 4-5 will be better – consistency is key.
- Every week, include one long run and build this long run up by 1-2 kilometers every week. Your longest run should take place 2-3 weeks before your race.
- Every 4-5 weeks, ensure that you give yourself a recovery or easy week of training to allow the body to adapt to the training load.
- Alternate hard and easy days of training.
- Vary the terrains that you train on for all round running fitness and injury prevention.
- Recovery is important so make sure you are following a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep to maximise your training.
There is absolutely no impact when swimming, so your joints are always protected from the stress and strain acquired from impact activities. Other benefits of swimming?
- It is a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, pregnant or elderly, because there is no stress on the connective tissue or joints.
- Swimming is also a great form of exercise to maintain fitness when you are injured and perhaps not able to participate in impact activities.
- The resistance of the water makes your muscles work without the strain or impact experienced on land, making it a form of cardiovascular and resistance training.
- Water’s properties of buoyancy and density allow vigorous exercise in the water with a low risk of injury.
- Swimming requires the involvement of the whole body in a balanced and integrated way.
- The force exerted by the water on the body is known as hydrostatic pressure and has many therapeutic benefits.
Top 3 tips for beginners
- Technique is very important in swimming, which is why fit people who have poor technique really struggle with it. If you would like to improve and really enjoy your time in the water, it’s advisable to see a swimming coach for some sessions to assist you with your technique.
- Vary your swim sessions to see improvements in fitness and strength, and also to stave off boredom. Include things like drills, kicking, different strokes and intervals (alternating high intensity swimming for certain distances, with rest period in between.)
- Flippers or fins should be used as a training aid only – often beginner swimmers become completely dependent on them. It is ideal to use them when doing drills, focusing on technique or kicking only. They should never be used for your whole swim session.
Get a full list of essential swimming gear, right here.
Don’t forget about myvirginactive’s amazing triathlon training plans, available to all members.
For those competing this year, good luck. Own it.