Triathlon – It’s Not Always About Competition
A Healthy Life Style Choice
Multisport training or training for a triathlon can bring variety back to your workout routine. For many, the simple fact of not doing the same workout day in and day out will be a real lift to the body, mind, and spirit. One of the keys to success in training for a triathlon is striking just the right balance. You’ll become proficient at juggling types of workouts, intensity and duration in addition to balancing the overall amount of time devoted to all three sports: Cycle, Swim, Run/Walk.
Triathlon has a reputation as a sport for super-fit endurance animals. However, they also appeal to the everyday mortal endurance athlete and offer a challenge for the recreational runner, cyclist, or swimmer and even people with no previous racing experience who want to get out of the old health club routine.
Multisport Training to Achieve Your Fitness Goals
As the science of fitness has become more sophisticated, we’ve learned that no single workout can offer complete conditioning for all parts and systems of the body. All too often, an avid cyclist with excellent aerobic capacity and good leg strength has poor upper body strength and poor hamstring flexibility. Total body conditioning can be achieved in training for a triathlon.
Training for a triathlon allows you to train both upper- and lower-body musculature. Multisport can also be used to improve a single component of fitness. For example, you can work on developing your aerobic capacity by running one day, cycling the next day and swimming the next.
The fitness benefits of training for multisport events include the following:
- Provides variety. Studies on exercise adherence indicate that many people drop out of exercise programs because they become bored or burned out. Cross training, with its variety of challenges, can stimulate your motivational levels as well as your muscles.
- May help prevent injuries. By using a single aerobic mode to develop cardiovascular fitness, you continually stress the same parts of the body. This is particularly true in the weight-bearing activities such as traditional running. The force of impact with which the body lands during each foot strike is approximately three times the weight of the person. Continual and repetitive impact stresses can result in overuse injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, runner’s knee and tendonitis, to name a few. Cross training reduces total impact forces and spreads the stress of the work to a variety of muscle groups and anatomical structures.
- Develops higher levels of fitness. By participating in a variety of activities, you can recruit new muscle fibers and develop new neuromuscular pathways formerly left untapped. Higher levels of aerobic capacity, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance are the result. Exercisers will often report reaching a plateau, which seems to prohibit further improvement in their traditional activity. The new challenges and overloads afforded by cross training allow you to work new muscle groups and sports skills. This can provide the push you need to overcome a stall.
- Develops muscle symmetry. The average exerciser is becoming more educated about the importance of muscle symmetry — the appropriate ratio of both strength and flexibility in opposing muscle groups. Without the appropriate ratio, selected sets of muscles can become strong and their opposing muscles disproportionately weak. Well-balanced muscle pairs working in concert allows for more effective and efficient movement of all your muscle groups. By changing activities and the ways in which muscles are used, you are more likely to develop greater muscle symmetry.
- Enhances weight loss. Those of us interested in weight loss need to design our exercise programs to promote caloric burn and the mobilization of fat. This can be accomplished by exercising at moderate intensities (60 to 75 percent of maximum heart rate) for long periods of time (30 minutes or more). This combination of intensity and duration encourages the body to use fats and fat stores as well as carbohydrates for fuel. You can extend your workouts safely and enhance weight loss by switching activities. For example, an exerciser can run for 20 minutes and then cycle or go for a walk for another 20 minutes.