Have More than One Speed


Posted by Coach Jay Weber

We all know that at an any event, at any distance, some athletes simply have more speed than others. Other athletes, striving to “step up their game”, just don’t yet possess the capacity for going to the next level. With enhanced fitness through proper training triathletes can develop the ability to hold higher effort levels for longer periods of time.

I have met with athletes who claim to only have one speed yet desire the ability to add an extra “gear”. As a coach, I work with these athletes to develop a range of "gears" or speeds for each of the different disciplines.

We will use different types of interval training in swim, bike or run workouts to teach the body to adapt to higher effort levels. In swimming, descend sets can be a fun way to develop a slightly faster pace. For example, one can swim 50’s in groups of four with each 50 just slightly faster than the previous one. This also teaches us to continually gauge and re-evaluate our effort levels. Over time, swimmers will move from possibly only one gear to many gears.

Interval training for the run can be repeated short, but harder effort level runs followed by either easy jogging or walking. Athletes can watch their tolerance for harder running develop quickly. 

Accessing the higher gears in your shorter races depends in part on your consistent, frequent training as well as your repeated interval work. Additionally, as you learn to become comfortable with being uncomfortable you can spend more time in the “pain cave”. Personally, I will almost always choose the shortest distance possible to race, and push to the point of lighting myself on fire. As you are crafting your next season’s race calendar, considering mixing it up a bit to experience other distances. Maybe you will learn that you are not just a one speed athlete.

~ Coach Jay Weber can be reached at jay@teammpi.com

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