Common Triathlon Training Myths Debunked


Aspiring triathletes faces a variety of challenges.

From managing the time commitment of training to avoiding injury, successfully traversing pre-race pitfalls can sometimes seem like walking a minefield.  With so many challenges that are simply unavoidable, athletes would do well to rid themselves of those that can be managed.  One such saboteur is misinformation.

It’s time for some myth busting.

The takeaways

  • Triathletes face no shortage of outlets offering advice
  • Too often that advice can include misinformation
  • Breaking down some common myths can help athletes stay on track


Myth #1- I need a fancy bike and expensive gear to complete a triathlon
This myth is no doubt perpetuated by fitness companies trying to move product.  And while it is true that great equipment can help, gear should never be an impediment for racing.

The reality in 2016 is that triathlons have gone mainstream.  This phenomenal growth has helped the sport significantly reduce the entry point for gear.  Equipment is less expensive and the sheer volume of races and diversity of participants combine to deliver varying levels of acumen and gear to most starting lines.

For a first-timer, or even a seasoned veteran you really only need proper triathlon clothing and four pieces of specialized gear

  • A bike & helmet (both fit by a professional)
  • Running shoes
  • Swimming goggles
  • Grit

That last one is non-negotiable.

Myth #2- I just have to get my miles in and I’ll be fine
Total mileage is never the barometer of a successful training week.  Simply logging miles with no purpose can be detrimental… and is certain to be boring.

Remember that how you train is in many ways as important as how much you train. Intensity, speed, rest days, strength and cross training are all important and should be a part of an overall goal to optimize performance on race day.  A good trainer can weave a tapestry of these components.

Just as a low effort/high mileage focus can be a detriment, so too can working too hard.  Trainers put easier days into workout plans so that you can go harder on intense days.  Trust your training plan and the wisdom of your trainer.

Myth #3- A triathlon is three separate events
Time and gear considerations sometimes make it easier to focus on one discipline per workout.  Easier is not better.    The very nature of a triathlon makes brick workouts combining disciplines essential.

This is because a key part of training is teaching your muscles how to respond when taxed and adapting to new stimuli.  How your body shifts gears between disciplines is essentially learned and must be practiced.  Adapting to a bike following a swim or to a run following cycling is imperative to “teaching” your muscles how to overcome adversity.

Myth #4- Swimming is the worst
No portion of the triathlon leads to more angst among newbies than swimming.  Because of this, first timers attack swim training with ferocity, focused on power and hard work above all else. While the enthusiasm is appreciated, this is a recipe for failure.

As any swimmer will tell you, speed is a byproduct of proper form, buoyancy and efficiency.  You don’t muscle through a swim to improve your time, you execute good mechanics.  The good news is, because swimming is so misunderstood, good form culled from practice can provide an incredible edge on race day.  This means swimming is actually far from “the worst” and is instead a great opportunity.

If you have questions about these myths or others, or are just interested in optimizing your performance, our coaches are an incredible resource.  We have plans for every skill level and the experience to take you to the next level.  Contact us to get to work on your next PR today.