Scott's Triathlon Tips

Firstly, I'd like to say that I feel fortunate to have been able to stay involved with triathlon for 15 years. I have consumed myself with training and racing triathlon to a point of obsession - and in doing so, I have gone places, met inspiring people, and have had overall amazing experiences. So I wanted to make a section on this Tips page that includes words of wisdom from other fellow athletes and coaches who have inspired and helped me along the way. If I have misquoted anyone, or if you see your name on this list and wish to be removed - simply let me know.

Sebastian Laflamme (former elite national team triathlete,...finishing med school)
Patience is key in triathlon. With hardwork and time, the results will come.

Al Pilcher (one of the Canada's only cross country skiers to crack the top 10 in a World Cup event)
Successful racing can be reduced to a pie. To be a world class athlete, you need to have all the pieces of pie, to sleep, how to eat, how to train, how to recover, how to handle the press, how to handle social pressures, etc. You need to have all the pieces of pie in place in order to be successful.

Brent Helmstead (1998-1999 OUA Swimming Coach of the Year)
The core strength of the freestyle swimming stroke is initiated by the hips. Initiate the roll with your hips, and your arms shall follow.

Don MacKinnon (my first and only cross-country ski coach)
Use your stomach muscles to assist your breathing.

Stephan Timms (one of Canada's top triathlon swimmers, now retired to finish law school)
If you want to swim faster,...spend more time in the pool -- volume in the water correlates to faster swim times.

Greg Bennett (one of the best of the best triathletes in the world)
Keep hydrated during workouts, and rehydrate after workouts.

Brad Cunningham (triathlon enthusiast,...trained at the national triathlon centre)
From Brad I learned, sport is about having fun too,...make sure you take the time to reflect on why you love the sport.

Darren Mealing (finished 2004 Ironman Australia in 9:13)
Have a nutritional plan when racing Ironman, and stick to it.

Jeff Krar (when I raced as a junior in Ontario, I looked up to Jeff as he was one of the best)
Remember it is normal to have a bad spell when racing Ironman, but keep positive as you can always find a second wind.

Adam Johnston (Head triathlon coach of the Endurance Lab)
Build training volume up methodologically. Don't rush, and have a long term vision of success.

Dave Johnston (former head coach of the national swim team)
Keep your head in line with the rest of your body.

Stefan Jackobson (one of Canada's most gifted/talented triathletes)
Be sure to take the fall to rest,..downtime is necessary for recharging.

Dave Climie (former national junior cross-country ski champion)
I've never seen anyone put themselves through more pain in workouts than Dave. He taught me the importance of testing your body's physical limit -- an important process for adapting and getting stronger.

Derek Porter (olympic gold medalist rowing,...turned triathlete, back to rowing)
From Derek I learned the importance of living and training with priniciples, and staying true to one's beliefs. Derek lives, trains and competes with heart and class.

Nigel Gray (3rd place 2005 Ironman Canada)
This year, Nigel demonstrated that if you keep persevering, you will succeed (after he finally broke through, and performed to his potential).

Chris Orr (friend and ironman athlete)
Keep perspective in your life. Maintain a healthy balance between family, friends and triathlon.

Tara Ross (2005 elite national team member)
Coming from a swimming background, Tara jumped into the triathlon scene with both feet - without knowing exactly what she was getting herself into. She showed that sometimes taking a risk pays off,...and is often necessary to succeed.

Simon Whitfield (2000 triathlon olympic gold medalist)
If you believe, you can achieve. I also recall him saying,...great things don't happen to great people, great people make great things happen.

Peter Schmidt (former world record holder in the 400m freestyle)
Peter inspired me to consider mental training more seriously. He told me of his story whereby he spent months mentally training for his world record setting performance. He envisioned this success prior to its unfolding,...such that in his mind it had already become a reality. He swam a 3:50 for 400m long course, shattering his personal record by 8 seconds.

Mark Bomba (former Canadian cross country champion)
Plan your training plan! He is notorious for coming through with incredible performances when he needs to. He attests that he doesn't care about mid season results,...he simply trains through these races, staying true to the long term focus of peaking for big events. He demonstrates a remarkable ability of keeping ones ego in check, with the faith that ones day shall come.

Kelly Guest (an amazing talent who was falsely accused of using a banned substance)
The lesson Kelly provides is that belief in oneself is more important than what others believe.

More tips are as follows:

1. Adjust your bicycle seat appropriately.
A properly adjusted seat is worth more than any triathlon equipment you can buy. While pedaling with one leg make small changes to your seat position. Keep making changes until you find the position which allows you to spin smoothly, efficiently and effortlessly. A properly adjusted seat shall allow your body to be in position to easily apply force to the pedals during the upper and lower part of the pedal stroke.
2. Get low and compact... but without compromising your upstroke power!
The truth of the matter is that there is no "gold standard" areo position. However, it should always be your objective to try to get your upper body as low and compact as you can without compromising your pedal upstroke power. It is unfortunate and inevitable that the lower you go, the more your hip angle is reduced, and consequently your upstroke power potential will be compromised. Hence, it is important that you keep your body within sound biomechanical parameters while seeking as aero of a position as possible. Further, beyond everything else, make sure you are comfortable in your aero position.
3. Avoid chaffing on the bike and run
To avoid chaffing on the bike and run, apply BodyGlide (or vasoline - if you aren't wearing a wetsuit) to your inner thighs prior to the swim start.
4. Become a positive quadrant swimmer.
While swimming, it is a misconception that your arms should move in perfect opposition with one another. Each arm/hand should spend approximately 1/3-1/2 of the time in the glide-catch phase of the swim stroke (so that each arm spends most the time in the 'positive quadrant' - or in front of your shoulders). When your hand enters the water, don't pull back right away - instead, let your hand scull for a bit, keep it stretched out before pulling. It is only at the last part of the pull phase (when your hand passes your shoulders to your hips) should you concentrate on 'pushing the water'. An excellent book to read is called Total Immersion.
5. Be Proactive with Overuse Injuries
Seek professional assistance sooner than later when symptoms arise - as overuse injuries are much more amenable to treatment if they haven't had time to become a chronic problem.
6. Sport Drinks - wait until 20 minutes into the race
There is sufficient evidence to support that sport drinks enhance performance in efforts greater than 1 hour in duration. However, avoid an insulin response (so as to not blunt the utilization of fat as a fuel) by initiating its consumption until 20 minutes into the race.
7. Follow a structured training plan
You have likely already heard the importance of following a plan before. Soooooo, I will give you what I consider as fundamentally important:
 (i)Compartmentalize your training such that at any given time of the year you are focusing on a specific component of fitness:
-Endurance (considered your base and best done late fall-early winter)
-Strength (early winter-spring, and maintain once a week even during race season)
-Speed (Late winter- maintain at least once/ week during race season)
-Power (3-4 weeks up to the time you want to peak)
(ii)Stagger the intensity and volume of your training weeks in groups of 3 (i.e. easy-medium-hard, easy-medium-hard).
8. Simulate open water swimming in the pool
To be an effective open water swimmer, you must be able to swim in a straight line without your pool bottom lines. A good drill which forces you to use landmarks other than pool bottom lines is to close your eyes every time your head enters the water. Your eyes should come open only to look ahead, or around the pool deck. Your body will eventually learn to swim in a straight line without markers.
9. Consume "good" fats
Some endurance athletes still don't realize the importance of incorporating fat into their diets. Fat is an excellent energy source for endurance events because it's rich in energy, our bodies have an unlimited supply, and it also doesn't produce nasty lactic acid when we burn it. The only drawback of fat is that energy is derived from it slowly (as opposed to glucose which can rapidly yield energy). Therefore, a component of becoming a faster endurance athlete is to increase your body's ability to use fat as a fuel. Apart from training, the associated adaptations are dependant on a healthy proportion of dietary fat.
Given the forementioned point, it is important that the fats that you consume are 'good ones' (i.e. flax seed oil, olive,...which have the highest proportion of monosaturated fat). Similarly, try to avoid the bad fats (such as those derived from corn, coconut, and shortening etc. which have higher proportions of saturated fats). Further, avoid foods with fats that have been hydrogenated, and/or partially hydrogenated (a process by which the manufacturer makes the fat more stable to increase its shelf life at the expense to your health).
10. Find your fastest side
Though bilateral breathing (alternating sides to take a breath) is an encouraged method of breathing in the triathlon, athletes will often find preference to breathing from a particular side. It is important to note that breathing from the dominate side doesn't necessarily translate as the most efficient or fastest side to breath from. Find your fastest side while doing timed workouts in the pool - you may be surprised with what you find.
11. Do you feel bloated while racing?
It is widely accepted that athletes can only digest/process about 400 calories/hour while racing (upper limit),...if you consume more than this, then it might not empty into your intestines and simply sit in your stomach causing bloating. If your body's electrolytes are depleted, then this can cause poor fluid emplying too (as there is less osmotic draw into your body's cells and bloodstream). The balance of nutrition for ones body is crutial to learn - especially for Ironman racing.
12. Build a Training Base
Your greatest training volume/distance should be emphasized during late fall and early winter involving many long slow distance training sessions. The more volume/distance completed during this time will complement the speed and anaerobic work that should be emphasized later.