Photo Cred:  Triathlete Magazine

Photo Cred:  Triathlete Magazine

Each September, I make the pilgrimage to Kona, Hawaii for two reasons:  

1)  I believe in supporting my athletes both in preparation and at their marquee events.**

2)  I believe that strength and conditioning will be the future of triathlon.  

FACT:  Strength training has been a hugely overlooked element of training amongst triathletes in the past.

I think if any triathlete were asked, “If you could improve your overall muscular balance, posture, movement economy, power/speed production, and decrease the likelihood and severity of overuse injury, would you find time for a couple of extra hours per week?”  That answer would unquestionably be YES.  Many athletes lack awareness and education of strength and conditioning as a training tool of such great magnitude.

With that said, time management is also tough in an already crowded schedule.  If given the choice of squeaking out an extra mile or two OR stopping to mobilize for 15mins, most endurance athletes (and I am guilty on occasion as well) will elect to grab the extra work on the bike, the run, or in the pool.  Again, we circle back to education on this.

So what exactly is “success” in the world of strength and conditioning within triathlon?  How is it measured?

The MACRO:  Success here for me would be seeing athletes race later and later into life – remaining engaged through continued personal progress, growing and mentoring the sport for new athletes, and continuing to remain strong, healthy and motivated participants. 

The MICRO:  In its smallest form, body position is the greatest indicator of success for me as a coach – specifically, posture and resilience to fatigue.  This means the athlete is in control of his or her race coming into and out of each transition.  Those last 100 powerful strokes of the swim, the perfectly smooth final k’s on the bike, and the ability to kick into the finish – races are won and lost in these moments.  Although strength training is not the engine, it provides the framework to create internal efficiency and overall economy for those moments of greatness. 

Race longer.  Race stronger.  This is the future of triathlon. 

**Also, Hawaii is amazing and the Ironman World Championships are electrifying.  And many, many thanks to America’s most decorated Ironman Athlete, Meredith Kessler – she has trusted me with both training and rehab.  I consider her a training partner and as a highest compliment, a friend.  She has challenged me to grow professionally to a level of both learning and experience I only dreamed about 10 years ago.

Kate Ligler