Make strength training a priority.
I also realized that doing well at longer distances requires much more physical strength than I had naturally or was able to build from my years of short-course racing. For age-groupers as well as pros, strength is one way you can get faster with age in any triathlon distance, particularly in long-course racing. And the early part of the season is the best time to make major gains in strength. I asked Siri Lindley not long after she had coached Mirinda Carfrae to her 2010 win in Kona what she considered the key for success in moving up to the Ironman distance. Her reply was one word: strength. It’s true.
My weight workouts weren’t adequately addressing my weaknesses, specifically my lack of leg and core strength—two things critically important for preventing fatigue on the longer bike and run legs of an Ironman. I discovered as the summer progressed that holding planks for two minutes or more were particularly helpful in helping me maintain my aero position for long periods on the bike. One-legged squats effectively strengthened the supporting muscles around my quads, glutes and hamstrings that increased my power on the bike. And regularly pushing a big gear in the aero position at a slow cadence up hills and into strong winds enabled me to hold my average speed on long rides with much less fatigue.
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