Four Simple Ways to Become a Better Athlete
As you make your resolutions for the year ahead, here are four healthy habits to add to the list. Working these positive practices into your life will help you become a better athlete.
Add functional strength work to your training
The principle of specificity states that triathletes must spend the majority of their training time dedicated to swimming, cycling, and running. Yet spending all your training time in these pursuits is a recipe for overuse injuries. To be sure, any triathlete will benefit greatly from supplemental strength training that focuses on functional exercises. Time-crunched athletes need only dedicate an extra ten minutes three to six days per week to become stronger and less injury prone. You can incorporate a ten minute sequence into your daily activities without the need to go to a gym—for example, set aside ten minutes upon waking in the morning, ten minutes while taking a break from work in the afternoon, or ten minutes while watching your favorite television show in the evening. Check out these videos (introductory level | advanced level) and additional workouts on this website to incorporate supplemental functional strength training into your routine.
Learn to run with a quicker cadence
The path towards becoming a more efficient runner begins with baby steps—that is, quick baby steps. As you begin your base training for the season ahead, focus on developing a quick cadence that targets 84-90 foot strikes per minute. That corresponds to 28-30 foot strikes per 20 seconds, or 42-45 per 30 seconds. A “foot strike” refers to a single foot—left or right. Not only will you increase your running efficiency, but a quicker cadence helps spread out the impact forces associated with running to help alleviate some of the stress on your joints. Running over hot coals with quick steps is a good visual image to put in your mind, along with the tick-tock sound of a metronome set at the right frequency. Check out these tips to learn to run with a quicker cadence.
Incorporate drills into your easy workouts
Good form equals free speed, and the key to developing good form is to ingrain proper movement patterns into your muscle memory so that it becomes automatic even when fatigue threatens to break it down. To help develop good form, incorporate supplemental form drills into your training. Easy workout days are especially good opportunities to focus on form. Check out this video for a short sequence of running drills, as well as these swimming drills to make your running more efficient.
Use short-term and long-term goals to guide you to desired results
What do you want to accomplish this season and in the years ahead? What abilities do you want to improve? What are your top priority races and what do you want to accomplish at these races? Writing down your goals and assessing your progress can be a powerful means for achieving great things. Check out these tips to effectively implement goal setting into your life.
This article also appeared in the Colorado Triathlete.