Triathlon is more than the sum of it’s parts
The sport of triathlon is more than just being able to swim, bike and run. The very nature of the sport means you need to be able to ride after you have swum and run after you have ridden - to transition. Given triathlon is a competitive sport and results can often come down to seconds, triathletes who wish to maximise their performance would be ill-advised to ignore the importance of transitions.
Training the body to change
Several scientific studies have explored the effect of cycling on running when transitioning directly from the bike to the run. A paper by Tamika Heiden in 2001 researched the effect of cycling on the first 2km of the run and concluded that, while some muscles were unaffected, there was a fatigue factor on some of the running muscles that made the initial transition from ride to run more challenging. In particular, there was added stress as the athlete attempted to stabilise the knee and generate speed. She further concluded that this could be mitigated to some extent by training the cycle to run transition. Another study explored the way in which athletes recruited muscles at the start of a run after cycling, suggesting that, in a percentage of athletes, the muscle recruitment in the legs peculiar to the circular activity of cycling was maintained at the start of the run. This, again, is a neuro-muscular consideration that could be improved through training.
Getting more efficient at the process
As the sport of triathlon has progressed, there have been numerous developments in equipment and technique designed to shave time off an athlete’s swim, bike or run. Wetsuit and race suit technology has changed the swim leg, while a raft of developments in cycling including improved aerodynamics, weight reductions and electronic gearing have led to faster bike times. In the run there has been recent debate on the level of impact a shoe has on a runner’s time. There has also been significant investment in optimising performance through recovery and nutrition. These developments and improvements can all reduce a triathlete’s race times by seconds or even minutes. However, there are equal gains to be made in transition, especially for the beginner triathlete. Training the body to cycle after swimming and (to a greater extent) run after riding will allow you to ride and run at a level more reflective of your innate ability. On top of this, there are also time gains to be made in an efficient transition. Brick training offers an opportunity for you to practise the bike to run transition, and to develop a fast, effective process.
A chance to practice
Over the Summer season, Balmoral Triathlon Club holds bike-run brick training sessions each Saturday morning in Centennial Park. This is an opportunity for club members to not only develop their ability to run after riding, but to also practise transition in a situation similar to racing. In Centennial Park, you will be riding on the parks’s interior roads - a chance to work on your gear changing and bike handling skills as we ride on a combination of flat and up/downhill terrain And, on top of all of that, you get to enjoy the benefits of training in a group and having a qualified coach to oversee what you are doing too. So, if you want to up your triathlon game this season, make sure you come along!