Nick Compton finished 22nd in his age group at the ITU World Championships in Auckland last year.
Having shared the initial steps in his journey in Part 1, here we learn more about effective training, avoiding injury and taking your performance up a notch, as well as balancing that with work and other commitments.
1. What’s the best piece of coaching advice you’ve received?
From a physical training perspective, I’d probably say ‘listen to your body’ – if you’re not feeling great and working harder than you should, skip the session and pick up again in a day or two – it saves you getting ill or getting an injury.
Mentally, the best tip I’ve been given is ‘remember what you love about triathlon and have fun’ – when training starts to feel like a chore, that’s when you begin to resent it and can quickly fall into a downhill spiral from there. I do the sport because ultimately I love that feeling of crossing the line knowing I’ve competed really well, I had fun and the training was worthwhile – remembering that instantly makes me excited to take on the next session and want to do even better at my next race.
2. Is it right that you now get coaching online? How does that work? Does it feel like you are on your own a lot because your coach isn’t physically around when you train?
Yes I do – my coach, Dave, actually lives in France. At the outset, we had a skype call to discuss my goals, time I could commit to training etc and he produced my training plan – a spread sheet showing my overall plan and then specifics I need to do in each session. I then send him what I’ve been doing each month with any notes, and we have a skype call occasionally to discuss challenges, changes needed etc.
Given that a lot of triathlon training is more volume focused (i.e. running for 45 minutes or biking for 90 minutes with intervals), you don’t need someone watching over your technique. In terms of swimming, I’ll work through the sessions in the pool, and for technique improvement will then work with a different coach, on a one to one basis who will give me pointers and drills to work on.
3. How do you manage training and a full time job. How do you get the balance right?
I’m very lucky in that I don’t have to travel too much with my job, so can get into a pretty consistent routine. I also work for a large firm that provides fantastic facilities such as secure cycle parking, showers and a great managed gym which really helps. I’ve managed to fit as much training before or immediately after work as possible so it doesn’t eat too much into my time at home. My typical week at the moment in preparation for the half ironman (work permitting of course) is:
Monday – 1 hour swim before work and a 1 hour interval bike session in the eveningTuesday – An hours interval run before work
Wednesday – A 2 hour interval bike before work and a 1 hour circuits set during the day
Thursday – 1 hour swim before work and a 75 minute run in the evening
Friday – rest day which is very important to take
Saturday – swim in the morning and a 90 minute run in the afternoon
Sunday – long ride (around 3-4 hours) in the morning
I’ve found that the most important thing is keeping an element of flexibility – if I can’t fit it all in for work or personal reasons, I don’t beat myself up about it – it’s much more risky to try and catch up by overtraining as that’s how you’ll get injured.
4. What’s your advice for anyone looking to get into triathlon and/or looking to move their triathlon performance up a notch?
For people looking to get into triathlon, the first thing I’d recommend is to find an event you like the look of (probably sprint distance in the first instance), book it and tell your friends and family about it. That’ll then help you get motivated to train and quite literally take the plunge.
If you’re new to the swimming side, definitely try and get a few pointers either from friends or actual lessons – it’ll definitely pay off. Just like when training for a marathon or half marathon, aim to slowly build up your distance and speed over time.
Finally, think about that amazing feeling you’ll have when you cross the line and can officially call yourself a triathlete – that’ll keep you smiling and motivated whilst training.
For those looking to step up to the next level, I’d recommend getting a more structured training programme and sessions – there are lots available online and getting a coach will help you work with focusing on your longer term goals.
The other key thing is developing consistency in training – it’s far better to do 6-7 hours of solid training week in, week out than 12 hours one week, and 2 the next etc. You’ll really start to see the gains in your endurance and technique.
Finally – for either those starting out or looking to pull on a GB tri-suit at the end of the year, don’t forget to enjoy it – it’s an amazing sport with camaraderie like no other (probably down to everyone secretly recognising how crazy it is to be bobbing up and down in a freezing cold lake or running through mud at 6am on a Sunday morning) – but that’s half the fun!
If you’ve been inspired by Nick and are looking to find the right guidance and support to help you achieve your aims, take a look at upmysport.