Most people think of triathlon as an individual sport, but that is not the case. When you see an athlete line up at the start line, persevere through the race itself and cross the finish line there are all sorts of people who helped him or her to be able to do that. The most successful athletes have a huge crew working “behind the scenes” to help them achieve their goals. I find that the following should be on your support team:
A close friend/spouse/family member. It’s always a good idea to have someone who is not a triathlete, but cares about you and your success. This individual is completely selfless when they are supporting you – maybe they drive you to races, run to various points on the race course to cheer you on, clean up after you when you are too tired to do your usual chores. Of course, you must remember to always thank this supporter and help them when they need it too.
A health care practitioner. This sport puts an athlete at a high risk for injury. A chiropractor and/or osteopath will help ensure that the body is moving properly and there are no lesions preventing proper function. A registered massage therapist or acupuncturist will help to relieve muscle tension that may cause injury or movement dysfunction. A physiotherapist will use various modalities to treat injuries and prescribe a program to help improve mobility/function.
A training partner or group of training partners. Training partners give a boost to your training. They don’t have to be the same speed, so long as they push you just outside your comfort zone in harder sessions and hold you back during easy sessions. Having someone or various other triathletes to train with will give you a boost. No question.
Nutritionist. Many consider nutrition the 4th sport in triathlon. You don’t drive a car without gas, so why would you fuel your body without the right fuel? And the phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know” is very true for nutrition. Most people think they are doing the right thing, when they aren’t. Speaking from experience, having Tara Postnikoff (www.heal-nutrition.com) council me on my nutrition helped me to take my performance to the next level.
Strength/mobility trainer. Most people can get more speed and power from including a strength/mobility training program in their training plan. In addition to this, it improves economy in all sports, but only if done correctly. Working in person with a trained professional who knows how to include strength in a triathlon training program is recommended.
Bike fitter. I can’t stress enough the importance of bike fit. Often I am racing and I see athletes on super nice triathlon bikes, riding into a headwind on a flat while sitting upright. Typically this is because they haven’t had a bike fit done that puts them in a comfortable position. Find a bike fitter that knows how to put your in a good aerodynamic position without sacrificing your comfort. A proper bike fitter will also know how fit you to reduce injury and for a strong run off the bike.
Bike mechanic. This individual not only takes care of your bike when it needs a little TLC but they also give you all the important information about what can make your bike lighter, more aero, how to save a few watts here or there using the right equipment.
Sports psychologist. This might not be a paid professional, but it helps to have one! This may even be your coach. It is someone who can help you come up with a plan to stay mentally focused during training and racing. Or someone who is there to empathize with you after bad races or training sessions – they just know how to say the right thing. Or for you to talk through your fears and anxieties with.
A coach. This is the most important (but maybe I am biased). A coach is a producer (helps assemble the team) and conductor (tells the athlete if and when the other team members are needed) and director (directs the athlete through it all). A coach does so much more than just personalize your training program so it suits your needs/goals. They are beside you on your journey, every step of the way.
Who’s on your support team going into 2021? Are you missing someone? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for her recommendations on any of the above professionals.