How does an athlete set an almost 24 min Personal Best (PB) in a Sprint Triathlon?

If you read the typical ‘how to’ or DIY (do-it-yourself) articles on triathlon websites, then you will read that there is only one way to improve… by training hard, all-out, max effort, repeat after repeat all with a “no pain, no gain” mindset . If hard training (i.e. HiiT or Hi Intensity Interval Training) doesn’t get you the results, then you aren’t training hard enough; harder training is the ticket. If you still fail to succeed, then these articles leave you with two final options:

  1. Triple-down on the hard training and train harder still in an attempt to get faster, or
  2. Give up on getting faster, and turn to racing longer and longer distances.

If in the process you get injured, ill, or are faced with disappointment, frustration, these articles tell you to take comfort in knowing… that’s just how the cookie crumbles. Basically, suck it up buttercup… take on the hard training or face the fact that you probably aren’t cut out to be a triathlete, or any sort of athlete.

Inspiring?  Motivating?  Encouraging?  Nope.  Not at all.

So if hard training – HiiT – is not the solution, then what is?

How did Aimee set an almost 24min PB at the Trisport Niagara Sprint Triathlon this year? By doing none of what we are ‘told to do’. Aimee did not do one single HiiT session. Aimee did NO power meter training, NO heart rate zone training, NO FTP training, NO spin classes, NO Tabata, NO hill repeats, NO sets with pace times in the pool, NO interval sessions on the track.

Instead, Aimee focused on three things: skill acquisition/technique development, base training, and core movement training. The result… Aimee improved across all three sports and in her transition times, suffered no injury nor illness in the process, requires no down time after training to recover, and suffers no post workout strain or pain.

Compare that to the carbon copy results – i.e. same speeds, same splits, same pace times – that the typical triathlete experiences race after race. These athletes then return to trying ever more HiiT, as they try in vain to obtain marginal gains while gambling their health due to the increasing risks of injury and illness of HiiT.

There is another way to train, and Aimee proved it: training technique delivers results, and the results are as different as the training.

In 2015, Aimee finished:

  • 244th out of a field of 339 athletes,
  • 72nd out of 119 women, and
  • 11th in her age category.

In 2017, Aimee finished:

  • 72nd out of a field of 335 athletes,
  • 10th out of 94 women, placing her on the leaderboard, and
  • 2nd in her age category only 3 minutes behind first place.

And she did it smiling. Throughout the entire race. From start to finish! A testament to how she trains and races.. healthy: physically, mentally & emotionally.

A final note for those who are bent on believing or who have bought into the belief that speed arises from technology (aka aero carbon fiber equipment)…

When Aimee raced in 2015, she raced on the exact same bike she raced this past week, but with two minor modifications: she had clip on aero bars and she had road cycling shoes. This year, Aimee raced sans aero bars and with mountain bike shoes, effectively less aero than in 2015. Based on the premise that not being aero or having less aero equipment will only slow you down, how ever did Aimee improve by more than 4 kph on the bike?

Believe it or not, there is technique to cycling no different than there is to swimming and running. Focus on technique, and you will not need to depend on your equipment to deliver results. Instead you can enjoy the experience of knowing that you – your health, your fitness, your wellness – is why you are faster.

After all… isn’t that the entire point of getting involved in sport, in training, in competing… is to become better ourselves?

2015 Niagara Sprint Triathlon Results

2017 Niagara Sprint Triathlon Results

BTW… because Aimee doesn’t do HiiT, she trains with her kids. She doesn’t have to leave in order to get in training. Training – swimming, road biking, mountain biking, running, dryland, … everything – is done with our kids (Mark & Serena), as a family. The result is that triathlon, sport, that healthy active integrated living is a true family experience. Healthy is what we do, everyday, together.