If you’re looking at getting In 2 X-Tri or just looking for some hints and tips for improving your performance, check out some of the training articles from our pathway partners.
If you’re looking at getting In 2 X-Tri or just looking for some hints and tips for improving your performance, check out some of the training articles from our pathway partners.
The World Champs MTB course includes a lot of undulating tight, twisty single track, this means effective and efficient cornering skills will be paramount to a successful race.
Good cornering on the mountain bike is really all about physics. The aim is to exit the corner with as much speed as possible. So, if you can relax, minimise sharp movements, move your weight fluidly with the corner and gain as much grip from your tyres as possible this will result in faster more fluid cornering which means a faster time.
Decide the speed you wish to ride the corner BEFORE you enter it. Remember you want to exit the corner fast, rather than entering the corner fast. The aim is to avoid heavy breaking or skidding as this reduces your exit speed.
This is probably one of the most important tips when it comes to cornering. Your bike will go where your eyes and head are focussed. So look around the corner where you want to go, and your bike will follow.
Try pointing your belly button around the corner and twisting your hips while lowering you head and chest slightly to your inside hand, this also helps lower your centre of gravity which assists in holding more cornering speed.
Keep a firm but relaxed grip on the handlebars and relax your shoulders. Put most of your weight through the seat and/or the pedals. For traction, if you’re not pedalling push your outside foot down on the pedal as you turn.
Once in the corner, stay off the brakes and let your wheels roll to allow your tyres to get on with the job of turning the bike around the bend.
Contributed by: Renata Bucher, Enduranceteam Coach
When I raced the TreX triathlon at Lake Crackenback for the first time I thought, oh my gosh that was a hard one, why did I seem to be working so hard? I was wondering what the elevation of Lake Crackenback was & and if the altitude was potentially affecting my performance?
In February this year we had the Australian Cross Triathlon Champs at Lake Crackenback again. I asked a few friends, how did you feel racing up here, and quiet often I heard, “it was brutal”, “I felt like no power, not moving”… So where was the suffer coming from? I did some research and here is what I found.
Altitude; highest elevation:
• Lake Crackenback, OZ 1134m
• Threbo, OZ base elevation 1365m
• Geelong, OZ 43m
• Auckland, NZ 196m
• Luzern, Switzerland 445m
• Park City, USA 2000m
At elevations above 1524m, the “thin air” factor begins to have a measurable effect on endurance performance. At 2438m, for instance, the barometric pressure is 25 percent lower than it is at sea level — meaning you get 25 percent less oxygen per breath than you get at sea level.
Although Lake Crackenback is not considered high altitude as such & in comparison to other parts of the world. There are still a few good points to comprehend & some rules to follow to best adapt to high-altitude racing.
You now know what to expect if you’re considering training at high altitude or racing at high-altitude destinations. Understand that if your trip lasts less than a week, you won’t have stayed long enough to adjust to the altitude difference, but you’ll certainly have felt the effects. Drink plenty of water, take it easy on your training, and if you happen to find yourself on the top of Mount Kosciuszko, enjoy the view!
Contributor: Ben Allen & Jacqui Slack – International Champions
International off-road specialists and multi-time Xterra champions Ben Allen (AUS) and Jacqui Slack (GBR) share a few tips for success ahead of the Queensland TreX Championships on the Sunshine Coast…
With more than 20 combined international wins between them, few athletes know more about off-road triathlon than 17-time winner Ben Allen (AUS) and 9-time champion Jacqui Slack (GBR).
In2Adventure caught up with the two TreX race ambassadors and founders of B&J Racing to pick their brain and get a few tips for TreX success and the Worlds in November.
In2Adventure: What to do if you’re not confident on mountain bike course?
Allen and Slack: It’s always a good option to ride the course beforehand so you know what to expect. You can save a lot of time knowing where you can pass others, or sections where you may need to get off and run if necessary. Riders generally ride a good line, so follow the tracks already laid out in the dirt. Always look 10 meters ahead so you know what’s coming, and try to relax and enjoy the trails, and try not to be too nervous or tense.
I2A: Enabling more experienced riders to pass…
A&S: During an event you may need to pass slower riders or allow the faster riders to pass so everyone gets a fair race. If you are coming up to pass someone give him or her a heads up and shout, “can I pass when you’re ready please?” At a safe spot the front rider must move over to the left or the right to allow the faster rider to pass quickly but safely. Everyone is in a race out there but be courteous, and if you are a slower rider allow the faster rider to pass as soon as possible. Always be polite, even in a race manners can go a long way.
I2A: You must attend the race briefing…
A&S: Attending the race briefing is a must! It’s the athlete’s responsibility to know the rules and know the course. We would hate for you to get a disqualification for not knowing the rules of the race.
Rules are in place for a reason, so make sure you know them. Any questions or queries you may have can be brought up before the race briefing or ask us if you see us around. Or reach out to us over Twitter or Facebook we’re more than happy to help.
I2A: Your feet are going get wet and muddy – period!
A&S: That’s why we call it cross triathlon. Of course you’re going to get a little wet and muddy – it’s all part of the adventure. Socks for the run are a must, because many courses have water crossings. Socks will help to prevent your feet moving around in your shoes and getting blisters. The trail run often has lots of steep ups and downs, and twisty sections therefore socks and a sturdy shoe with tight laces will be to your advantage.
I2A: Race within your abilities…
A&S: Know your limits! It’s better to take corners or technical sections a little slower than to risk a crash, which may slow you down much longer than actually being more careful.
Follow the course as it’s intended to be ridden and run, don’t cut corners, short cut the course or avoid obstacles even if you’re tired this will result in a disqualification.
I2A: Don’t go out too hard…
A&S: Don’t go out super hard or fast. Pace yourself, it’s a long race – two and a half hours for most people, so ensure to have enough energy left to cross the finish line with a smile.
Ensure you take on plenty of water and a little food. Anything over 90 minutes of exercise requires some sort of fuelling. We like to use gels as they are easy to digest and you can tape them to your handlebars, but a banana or some dried fruit is also great.
I2A: 30km on a mountain bike is very different to that on the road…
A&S: Mountain biking is very different to road cycling as you face many challenges – it maybe negotiating obstacles, attacking in and out of sharp corners or riding up and down steep climbs.
It’s important to be ready for anything as more can go wrong so be prepared for mechanicals or getting off your bike and running. Everyone comes back with a story to tell so don’t let these things prevent you from finishing. It’s the name of the game; it’s all part of the adventure.
Between us, we’ve competed in over a 100 cross triathlon races and I guarantee that when you’ve crossed the finish line you will be hooked. The challenges you will face are some of the most rewarding things you will ever accomplish.
Contributor: Tommy Morwood – President Hills Tri Club & Off Road Enthusiast
Being a passionate off road racer (and president of my local tri club), I get lots of people ask me how they can make the switch to off road racing, particularly with Cross-Tri World Champs coming to Australia!
The first thing to realise, is that you don’t have to make a complete switch. Doing an off road race will be extremely well complimented by your current triathlon training. At the end of the day, it’s just swim/bike/run… only way cooler!
That said, there are certainly lots of little things you can do to get ready and go faster…
First, prepare yourself to get dirty, muddy and have more fun racing than you’ve had in your entire life! The TreX courses are physically demanding, but it’s oh so sweet to finish.
The biggest blocker for most people when getting into the off-road scene is of course the mountain bike component. And whilst you can grab yourself mountain bike off a mate and rock up to race, be prepared to struggle without a bit of preparation…
The great news is that since you’re likely already a pretty fit triathlete, you just need to pick up some bike skills.
It’s much more physically demanding, the pace and your power output is constantly changing. You heart rate will be thumping in your chest. Your lungs and legs will burn during the short climbs.
However, you only need a handful of skills and a bit of practice to feel comfortable and confident.
Ask your tri club to hire a MTB coach and put on a skills session. In Sydney I’ve seen a number of clubs do this already and there has been a great response from members. There are lots of off road techniques that you will learn, and most (like cornering) will also have a strong positive bearing on your TT or roadie skills.
At my tri club, Hills Tri Club, we have hired a MTB-specific coach and put on two of these sessions and they have been really popular. (It also doesn’t hurt to put on a women’s specific session, because let face it, us blokes usually act like idiots and most first timer ladies prefer an idiot-free zone). You can also contact your state mountain bike association and ask when their skills sessions are on. Two hours with a coach will pay HUGE dividends in your ability to ride confidently.
Check out some local races in your area to get used to passing people (and being passed). If you contact your local Mountain Bike Club they will be able to give you advice on a great event to get you started. If you’re up for a challenge, the Snowies Mountain Bike Festival at Lake Crackenback is one of the most scenic races in the country, and as a bonus you’ll get to ride most of the trails included in the TreX Australian Champs qualifier!
Also ask your club to get involved as a Pathway Partner with TreX. There are already 10 clubs associated and taking advantage of what this offers club members, including discounts of races.
The team at TreX are famous for having epic run legs. Expect to go up steep hills, through mud or water. It’s worthwhile one day to practice running though water (about knee or waist deep) and seeing how your shoes hold up. Do your socks crumple up? Do you even want to wear socks (yes, I do, however most people don’t). Do your shoes retain water when you run out?
If you want to do several off road events, it’s worth investing in a decent pair of off road shoes (think Salamon, On-Cloud, Brooks, Pure Grit etc). All offer excellent grip, and have excellent drainage so water doesn’t build up inside your shoe.
You can of course do any off road event with your road runners, though just take it easy so you don’t slip over rocks etc, and consider at least getting a really tight fitting pair of proper running socks (go to a specialty running shop and see what they have).
Come race day, don’t think Olympic Distance. With the effort, the time your there, the hills… it’s more like doing a 70.3 and you’ll need to plan your nutrition accordingly. If you only have one bottle cage (which most bikes do) strongly consider a camel back.
Make sure you have enough gels etc too. Like a 70.3, just tape a few to your top tube. Unless your name is Ben Allen (TreX Ambassador and Off road professional), plan to be out there racing for 3-4 hours.
Put gels on your top tube, however, when you go over rocks and bumps expect them to rip loose. I tape both the top AND the bottom of the gel down to keep them secure.
Unless you have practiced riding without them, wear gloves. It will only take you 10 seconds to put them on in transition, and without them you wont have as much grip on your handlebars (also if you fall off, they offer a good bit of protection for your hands). I find that the time spend putting gloves on is also good to take a few deep breaths and get the heart rate down from the swim.
With the uneven surfaces and the way you engage your muscles so different to road riding, a lot of people get leg cramps (myself included!). It’s worthwhile to take some salt tablets to use on the run, and if you start to feel some cramp twitches coming on – just back off the pack immediately. Nothing worse then trying to ride/run up hills with cramps!
Before race day, try ride the course. Knowing what’s coming around the next corner can really help with any anxiety you may have. Most courses aren’t difficult at all, having the knowledge that you can ride it will be a big help in race day.
Finally, rest easy in the knowledge that the field for off road events is usually made up of about 50% of first timers. Everyone’s there to have fun. And once you’ve finished, you’re going to love telling everyone how challenging it was!
Contributor: Renata Bucher, Endurance Team Coach, offroad triathlete
Springtime has arrived in Australia. Most of us are feeling more energized, motivated and having look into the race schedule of this summer. What about joining the Victorian Champs in Bendigo?
We have 7 weeks left and time to get ready for it.
After the winter break, some athletes have a hard time getting started again while some dive back in without a road map of where they want to go. Training blind is one of the easiest ways to derail your own training. Here are some easy tips that will help you start training again, stay motivated, and set yourself up for a good offroad race season.
The most important thing you can do when you return to training is to have a plan. It doesn’t matter if you choose a training plan from a magazine, the web, or a book. Have a plan and commit to it. The old adage says, “it’s easy once you commit.” This has never been truer then once you are following a plan. Tell your family, friends, write it down, and post it up so you see your workouts every day. If you do these things, you are much more likely to follow through.
Ease back in. Don’t take on a twenty hour training week if you’ve been averaging five hours per week for the last few months. Implement a plan that lets you build your training hours slowly. Setting attainable goals that you can reach will allow momentum to build, and you’ll feel more confident as the race season gets closer. If you set a goal that’s unattainable then you’ll be disappointed in the first month of the season. And that’s not a good way to start the training cycle.
Strength training not only builds nice looking muscles, it helps prevent injury, also increases your metabolism which can help burn excess calories from the off-season. If you have been out of the gym for a while try some basic functional strength exercises to get started and just use your body weight. These can include:
• Standing squats
• One leg squats
• Side lunges
If you can learn to be creative, no matter where you are, you can always get a good strength training session. I personally love to go on trails and use all the obstacles I have around. Some are calling it “boot camp”.
“Misery” does love company. Recruit some friends to join you in your training. Having other athletes to hold you accountable for showing up is a strong motivator. Knowing that master’s swim is every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7 a.m. helps motivate you on those dark, cold winter mornings. Having a group is not only a great way to show up in the first place, it’s can also help you push yourself to new limits. There are always athletes looking to train with a group.
Learn a new sport…but not an aerobic one. Yoga or stretching can help increase flexibility, improve recovery time, and promote lengthening of muscles. As we get older we lose pliability in our muscles and keeping them supple with yoga or stretching will help us avoid injury.
Why not find a new challenge? Something like going to a new race area, camping, sleeping in a tent or just to do something, you have not done before. I try to do at least one new race every year. My wish list is still long and it is rewarding to tick the boxes, step by step.
Contributor: Tri Adventure Qld
Did you know Cross Triathlon Training can help your regular Triathlon Performance!
Coach Kim Beckinsale from Tri Adventure has long understood the benefits of off-road training for health, fitness lifestyle and of course regular triathlon training. So now with the prospect of an ITU Cross Triathlon World Championship on home soil we ask the question….
What is stopping regular triathletes from incorporating ‘off-road’ sessions into their training regime and having a go at events such as the TreX Events?
Is it fear of injury?
Is it fear of not being as successful as you are at regular triathlon?
Is it that your coach does not think it’s a good idea?
Is it that the thought has not even entered you head?
Whatever the reason is, why not consider adding a few different sessions into your weekly training regime that may just give you the confidence and willingness to further your off-road skills, and reap the rewards in the long term.
Less time on concrete and bitumen will decrease the risk of injury. Do your easy aerobic run in local park or forest, where you can start from basic flat fire trails and then progress to more technical undulating trails. Not only will you be breathing in clean fresh air you will automatically be recruiting more muscles outside your normal range of motion for road running.
If you have weak ankles or a fear of spraining them, strap them up the first few times until you get to know the trails. Remember as children most of us did ‘cross country’ at school, and many of you may have even gone into the sport of Triathlon because you did well at it…..so now it’s time to relive some of those childhood memories of slipping and sliding in the mud!
Go to your local bike shop and discuss purchasing a mountain bike. Most shops will give you a ride demo for a while. Personally I suggest that you consider a 29” ‘dual suspension’ mountain bike as it will give you a softer easier ride.
First of all just get used to the bike and the gears, by riding on paths and the road. Don’t go riding on trails by yourself; get some expert advice from a qualified MTB coach or someone who will take you out ‘one on one’. Many athletes make the mistake of ‘going for an easy ride’ with mates who totally underestimate difficulty of the trails they ride. This has been the start and finish of mountain biking for many, who have either walked away totally petrified of single track and rocky descents or ended up with injuries from not having the skill to ride something that their mates said is ‘easy’.
Mountain biking in the forests gets you off the road so less chance of being hit by cars, and the bonus is that you don’t have to go early……peak hour in a forest is just other riders out there having fun! So you can do all you regular triathlon training when you first start out and just spend one afternoon or morning a week working on your MTB skills.
Just riding a mountain bike on a weekly basis will help you road riding. Next time you are doing hill repeats, take your mountain bike for extra weight and resistance or just ride some steep climbs on a fire trail and you will instantly see the improvements in your strength on your road bike. Get outside into the bush and try something new, exciting and different you never know where it will take you in the sport of Triathlon!
So there you have it……being a triathlete already you will have the fitness to complete any mountain bike or trail run course in a TreX event, it will just be the technical nature of the course that will hold you back.
To find out more about how to prepare for Cross Triathlon or for more information about Tri Adventure Personalised Training Programs for the TreX Australian Cross Triathlon Championships /ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships at Lake Crackenback please email Kim Beckinsale at [email protected]
Kim is a level 2 Triathlon coach with over 2O years’ experience in Triathlon and more than 10 years racing and coaching in an off road environment. Kim is also a qualified level 1 MTB coach.
Contributor: Tri 4 Me Fitness
It’s well known that most successful triathletes build their base fitness in winter and spring but how does one stay motivated when the days are short and dark, the temperatures are in the negatives and your non-triathlon friends are enjoying lazy weekends around the open fire place with a good bottle of red?
We’ve pondered on this long and hard (maybe over a bottle of red!) and have three key points for you consider and hopefully help you get through these last few weeks of winter!
Remember why you got into triathlon and that the summer season is going to be here before you know it!
Endurance strength depends on base fitness and base fitness takes months to develop. Keeping up a steady and consistent training base over winter and spring will increase your aerobic fitness and put you in a better position when you kick into your endurance training towards the end of spring. You don’t want to make the season harder than it has to be, do you?
The wind trainer is your friend! You might need to repeat this a few times and wait and see the benefits before you’ll believe us!
You can train inside, away from the nasty weather and frequently, even more effectively than out on the road! No junk miles, just pure focus on your training session outcomes. Make sure that you are incorporating a couple of trainer sessions each week and you’ll be amazed at what it does for your fitness. A sample indoor trainer session could be;
Getting outside on your mountain bike! Winter weather doesn’t impact mountain biking!
Mountain biking is one of the fantastic aspects of cross triathlon and you can do it all year round no matter what the weather. Mountain bikeing will build both aerobic fitness and strength as well as providing you with some awesome muddy fun with friends. Try something different and build both your skills and fitness at the same time!
Catch up with Leah and the team from Tri 4 Me Fitness