The Key To Improving!
Triathlon training by its very nature requires the athlete to become a generalist at the expense of excelling in just the swim, bike, or run. However if you are like most triathletes, you likely will focus more effort training in the discipline you enjoy the most and spend less time training in the discipline you are least good at. While it is very important to exploit your relative advantage in your best discipline you don’t want to “lose” your race because you have focused too much training on your strengths and ignored your weakness. Having a balanced attack in the swim, bike, and run, will almost always result in a superior race performance than having the best race split in a single discipline.
The key to improving is to minimize your weakness and maximize your strengths.
I have my athletes accomplish this using the training principal of repetition. Generally, frequency of workouts is more important than the duration of the training. Motor skills improve with practice. The more time you practice a specific skill the more efficient you can perform that skill and thus the easier it becomes. This is especially true when training your worst discipline. If you are aquatically challenged you need to swim as many times as possible until you develop a true feel for the water. If cycling is your weakness, park your car and ride your bike everyday. The same goes for running. If you are constantly injured after hard, longer runs then consider short, frequent (5-7 per week), easily assimilated runs. Running more often, less hard, and less long allows the body to gradually adapt to the rigors of running without getting hurt. The key is to keep the runs short and at a pace your can tolerate until you have physically adapted to handle more. Once again, frequency over duration.
As your fitness improves and your body adapts to handling multiple workouts per discipline, per week, we can gradually increase the duration and/or intensity of the training. Too often, in our enthusiasm for the sport, triathletes “rush their fitness” and end up injured or burned out. Have patience and know that the easy, frequent training we’re doing early in the season will pay off with superior performance at your "A "race at the end of the year.
One of the best ways to get in shape and monitor your progress throughout the season is too compete in several smaller, less important “training races.” It’s OK to race when not in top form and use that experience to become a better triathlete.