I have been on the road for the past 10 days and had the opportunity to do my training with a few groups of athletes. There was Tri Scottsdale, Phoenix Swim Club, Dura Pulse Tri Team, LA Tri Club and Tower 26.
It was great to be exposed to how other athletes train and operate. More importantly, I left with the positive affirmation of the powers of training with a group.
I often get asked what the best advice is for someone just getting into the sport - and wether you are a new triathlete or a seasoned veteran, my advice doesn’t change.
Find a group.
During my travels, I was reminded of some of the benefits of training with a group:
1. Sharing knowledge - you can always get tidbits of information from the group, find out how to pee off the bike, ask a nutrition question, find out about local races, or ask about someone’s new gear.
2. Resources - not all group workouts have a coach standing by, but often times there is a great network of resources in a group environment. If you’re lucky, there is a coach on-deck as a resource but you can also find out things like who is the best massage therapist in town.
3. Friendships - I first started triathlon in 2004 with the University of Montana triathlon team. We spent our spare hours majoring in swim, bike, run. Which often led to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Which often led to training camps in St. George, Utah. 7 years later and the whole crew is still friends, and yes, training partners, too! Team Montana!
4. Keep it fun - training with a group is a sure-fire way to keep things fun. There will always be someone in the bunch ready to make the group laugh during a hard interval set, and often times, being surrounded by your friends, makes you forget about how sore you are from sitting on your bike for that long.
5. Safety first - there is always power in numbers and its a great way to keep it safe if you are surrounded by a group when you are in the ocean, on the road, or running the trails.
6. Finding performance - newbie or seasoned veteran, we are all looking to find performance. Training with a group you will be bound to elevate your performance to another level. It’s fun to push each other to new physical limits, test the boundaries of mental toughness and improve on your time. By surrounding yourself with a group, it is a great opportunity to have people that are faster, smarter, and stronger than you.
7. Motivation boost - Lets be honest, who really enjoys swim drills? Are you currently lacking motivation with your sport in general? Tired after a long day of work and don’t want to run? Training with a group keeps you accountable. I have found that being around motivated and positive people with like-minded ideas can be extremely motivating to get me out the door, help me complete a tough session, or get my hiney to the pool at 5 a.m.
8. Directionally challenged - If you are new in town or just visiting on vacation and you want to find the best run route, local pool or where to ride your bike - the best way is through a training group.
9. Intimidation factor - Lets face it, when you first get into triathlon, it can be intimidating. For me this was true, especially with the swim. Training with a group is a great way to garner confidence, conquer your fears, and not have to give it a go all alone.
No matter if its a swim group, run club or triathlon club - enjoy your group. Keep it fun and most importantly, remember the #1 rule of group training: leave your ego at home!