One of the main reasons that triathlons are tough is that they require you to perform in three different sports. Unlike other sporting events where you are required to focus on one athletic sport or activity, triathlons force you to do well in three different types! You should cater your training schedule to build your endurance in all areas and learn how to properly transition from one sport to the next. How should you be training for the bike portion of your triathlon? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
What Makes Biking Different From the Other Sports?
For one, biking requires the most equipment and to bike well you need to learn how to develop the right techniques to leverage your equipment for success. You should give extra time and consideration to your bike training, so you feel comfortable in the saddle and are ready for race day.
Make sure you know what type of equipment you need to purchase or use for training. You should understand the differences between bikes and consult an experienced triathlon participant to ensure you make the right decision. If you are just starting out, you should consider purchasing a basic bike to save some dollars. However, you can also choose to purchase a triathlon-specific bike or more expensive high performing models depending on how ready you feel to make the investment.
Tips for Bike Training!
Give yourself the right amount of time in your training schedule to build your confidence on the bike. The bike portion of the sprint triathlon is 20 kilometers or approximately 12 miles, so you will want to keep this in mind for your training schedule and build up your stamina in a methodical way. Much of your ability to perform well on race day will come from confidence through practice, give yourself enough time biking in similar conditions to what you will experience on race day, so it just feels like another day in the park.
Do Brick Training! (Training for two disciplines in the same workout)
Here is a great article on brick training and the importance of it for your regimen:
Bricks are a very important part of triathlon (and duathlon) training and they are sometimes overlooked. Bricks refer to training on two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other with minimal or no interruption in between, just as you would do in a race (I am sure you knew this). Usually when people talk about bricks they refer to a bike/run workout, but bricks could also refer to a swim/bike workout or to a run/bike workout (if you are training for a duathlon). These last two are often overlooked but still important to fit here and there in your training plan.
About a swim/bike brick: while you are swimming you will want to use your legs as little as possible or else you may have a hard time when you get on your bike before you start feeling comfortable. A swim/bike workout that simulates race conditions will help you minimize this problem. A couple of suggestions are to try and use your legs more (that is to kick more) during he last 50-100 yards of your swim to get more blood flowing to them. Also, start your bike portion using an easier gear than the one you plan on using during the main part of the race. This will give your legs a chance to get used to the new sport and accumulate less lactic acid than they would if you started from the beginning with a tough gear.
As an example, a useful swim/bike brick can be:
3 x (500 yards swim + 5 mile bike). I believe this is more useful and time efficient than doing a 1500 yards swim followed by a 15 miles bike, because you will switch sports 6 times instead of only once.
Even more important are bike/run bricks, mainly because the transition between bike and run is the toughest of the two during a triathlon. Most people’s recount of their brick workouts consist of a medium/long bike ride followed by a medium run. Although I do perform these kind of bricks, my recommendations are a sequence of short/medium rides alternated with a series of short run.