How can I get faster?

Hypothetical conversation:

Triathlete:   Hey Coach.  I’ve done all the basic things to improve my overall time.  I’ve worked on my swim technique, ridden more miles and hills, and done extensive running training including intervals & hill work.  What can I do to get faster?  

Coach:         Do you really want to know what else you can do?

Triathlete:  Yes.  Let me know and I’ll do it!!

Coach:         Get more sleep and lose some weight.

Triathlete:  No, I want to know what ELSE I can do to get faster & stronger!!!  

Ha, ha. It sounds funny but have you ever skipped over those ideas?

It seems we always want some magical technique or workout.   Or maybe just longer, harder workouts.   But when given such a simple thing as “Get more sleep & lose weight”, many triathletes just skip that.

If you are in that boat, I recommend you really think about that suggestion & reconsider.    After the 2018 season, I looked ahead to 2019 and saw some big goals.  I asked myself the same question and really thoughtfully considered getting more rest and losing some weight.  So I started in October of 2018 making sure my eating habits didn’t get out of whack at Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s Eve parties/holiday over-eating.   Not to say I didn’t eat SOME sweets and 2nd helpings at Thanksgiving but I really tried not to overdo it.  Smaller portions of desserts, more prudent choices of what to eat, etc.   My usual routine of gaining weight in the off-season only to have to work hard to lose it early in the following year was broken.   It really wasn’t that hard to do.  It just required a focus & commitment.    I saw the benefits in training and early races in 2019.    One training example:  My spring training includes a triple brick session.   I compared my triple brick stats from 2019 back to 2018.   In 2019, I weighed about 10 lbs less than the previous year and was 14 seconds/mile faster on round 2 (Zone 2) and 3 seconds  faster per mile on round 3 (Faster) with SAME heart rate!!   Your specific weight loss & run speed will vary, but all else being equal, you’ll be able to run faster and with less effort when you drop some weight!   So do it!! 

From a sleep standpoint, I was given a heart rate tool (WHOOP!) to test.   Only after using that was I clearly aware that I was getting only about 6 hours of sleep per night on average.   The Whoop! device has a sleep coach and it was recommending more sleep so I decided to try to get more sleep.  Now I’m averaging about 7 ½ hours of sleep per night.   This is a 25% improvement in sleep time from what I was averaging before.   Not only do I feel more rested, the workouts don’t seem as hard since I’m not as tired.   And as my coach says “Sleep is the best type of recovery you can get!”.   I think this has also made a difference in me not getting injured this year.   I have been doing more core/strengthening work so that has definitely helped, but I do think getting more sleep has an impact on how you feel, your attitude, how your body responds to training and how much it is ready to take on more strain.   So I would really encourage you to try to get more sleep.   You’ll see a difference and your family likely will too! 😊

So getting more sleep and losing weight is something anyone can do.  You just have to make a decision and DO IT!!   I highly recommend it as I’ve seen the results it’s had on my racing this year.  You won’t regret it and will enjoy the many benefits that come your way as a result.  Good Luck!!

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Tom Lehr

About Tom Lehr

I grew up in Ohio & went to THE Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) but I was smart enough to move south where it's warmer. My brother, an experienced triathlete, planned on doing Granite Falls so I figured I'd have to "tri" one since it was close by. 1 Tri turned into 11 my 1st year and then 18 2nd year. I've done over 60 triathlons now & love every one of them. My favorite race last year was Ironman Louisville, my 2nd full Ironman event. Lots' to learn! (like proper nutrition & hydration!). I love the bike, am improving my run and have a lot to learn on the swim! :)