I've been racing tris for 8 years this season, and have been a runner for 10 more. I've been fortunate enough as a triathlete to have achieved a pretty good level of performance. I've been in the top 20-25% of my age group (50-54) each of the last three years, have qualified for USAT Age Group Nationals the last two years, and I usually get on the podium for my age group a few times each season.
I think one of the next challenges I want to bite off is to start coaching triathletes. There's a lot I think I can pass on to newer athletes, especially. So, I was wondering to myself -- if I could tell a new triathlete three keys to improving in triathlon, what would they be?
1. Have a goal
It's a good starting point. Goals aren't the same for everybody -- to some it's "just win, baby," while to others it's "just finish." Or you may want to do a lot of short races, or a few longer ones. But a goal that defines what you want to get out of the sport is important, because it helps you avoid an aimless approach to your training. And unless your bar for success is very low, you likely won't achieve your goals with an aimless approach. That leads us to...
2. Have a plan.
I start each season with a plan on what I want to do, and why I want to do it. For example, this year it's do an IM, because I want to take on the challenge of racing the iconic triathlon distance. Last year the plan was to race longer (two 1/2-IMs) in order to get more experience in longer races. Once you've decided on your plan, you can tailor your training to that purpose. And with a purpose-driven plan, you may find yourself able to reevaluate how you measure success, too!
3. Be consistent.
Once you've got a plan in place, it's time to execute it. Consistency in executing your plan is one of the most important keys to improving and meeting your goals. Your body improves through many small adaptations and progressions, not through huge leaps as the result of a single workout or two. And consistency will yield habit -- habit that may keep you active and healthy even if you're not racing.