Are you a triathlon enthusiast? Maybe you’ve completed a few sprint triathlons and want to improve your time. Or, maybe you want to try the longer half Ironman, or an off-road triathlon like the XTERRA, or even the “big daddy” of them all – the full Ironman. Whatever your goals, we chatted to South African professional triathlete Stuart Marais for advice on how to step up your game when it comes to this multi-sport event.
Stuart has consistently been a top finisher in some of South Africa’s best-known triathlons, including the Totalsports Challenge, XTERRA and Ironman 70.3. In 2016, he finished second in the XTERRA challenge in Port Elizabeth, and fourth in the Ironman 70.3 in East London. With these achievements under his belt, here’s his advice for improving your triathlon performance:
- Consistency is key. This is the main ingredient in improving your time, says Stuart. “Rather than overextending or trying to get fit fast, build your fitness consistently over an 8-12 week block of training. “ Approaching your training in this way will make you stronger and give you the stamina you need to lift your performance.
- Don’t put diet at the forefront. What you eat is an important part of training for a triathlon. But Stuart says it’s important to look holistically at what you eat rather than dieting per se. “It’s much more important to create good eating habits rather than dieting for the event.” This includes things like eating a balanced diet, eating unprocessed food, and cutting down on sugar and stimulants.
- Create a structure. “While there are no recipes to success, there are rules you should follow,” says Stuart. He advises that you try and fit a structured programme into your lifestyle that minimises the disruption to your work or family time. “When you plan your preparation properly, you’re a better person in general in terms of your work, social and sports environments,” he adds.
- Recovery is very important. Rest is key while training – or more specifically, recovery. Allow your body the time to absorb the hard work and make sure you listen to your body when you feel off. “Try to get at least 6 hours of unbroken sleep per night, or more if you don’t have kids,” says Stuart.
- Choose your events carefully. Depending on your state of fitness and your work schedule and family setup, don’t try for more than 7 or 8 bigger events per year. Stuart also mentions the type of distances you do. Whether it’s on road or off-road, the key is the duration of the event rather than the distance. In summary, prepare for the time you will race, e.g. two hours or six hours, regardless of distance.
Completing a triathlon is a challenge in and of itself – but improving your performance keeps the challenge fresh. With Stuart’s advice, you’ll be well on your way to upping your game no matter what your triathlon goals are.
Interested in entering an off-road triathlon for a new challenge? The Fedhealth XTERRA event takes place in three locations across South Africa throughout January and February 2017.