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The loneliness of the long-distance triathlete is a good thing

Why you should keep training solo at least some of the time - even when you don't have to

Photo by: Getty Images

Training alone has been the way many of us spent the summer. Even if we were training with people, it might have been through the interface of a video-conferencing app, which doesn’t provide the experience that many of us look for. Luckily that is starting to change. Pools and gyms are re-opening and socially-distanced group rides and runs are going strong in many places. Despite all of these new options to train with other people, I believe that you should still be doing some of your training on your own – ideally at least one session per week in each discipline.

Wait, haven’t we all been waiting to get back to training with other people whenever we want?  Unfortunately, training with others isn’t always the ideal scenario. It is easy to get caught up in the energy of the group and push your pace too hard when you’re supposed to be having an easy day. On hard workout days, you can find yourself chasing people you can’t keep up with leading to you burning out early during the workout and going home to lick your wounds. Conversely, you might find yourself training with people who aren’t able to match your intensity, limiting your pace to one that is slower than would have been ideal to challenge you. Working with a group can also make it hard to focus on technical elements of performance. There can be pressure to keep up with the group and move on to another part of the workout, even when you would benefit from trying a drill out a few more times, or going a bit more slowly to really get the feel for it.

When you train by yourself you are much more in control of your overall session. The ability to select the exact pace that you want to train at – be it for an easy or hard workout – can make a huge difference to achieving your goals for the session. Not having a group around to distract you can also give you the opportunity to take the time during a drill set to listen to your body, helping you integrate new movements in a way that works best for you.

I am not suggesting that you need to have this type of control for every workout, as there are benefits to training in groups as well, but selecting a few key workouts each week where you focus on your own performance and execution can pay big dividends in your training. So, even as group training ramps back up, keep at least a little bit of your training as “me-time.”  Your performance will be better for it – and maybe you’ll appreciate that time training with others even more.

Darian Silk is a triathlon coach and Certified Exercise Physiologist based in Toronto.  Read more about Darian at www.teamatomica.com or email him at darian@teamatomica.com.