You may be able to do all three sports back to back but single- sport focus can give you a new events calendar and allow an edge to be gained. Moving from a multisport to a one-sport athlete is not as dumb as it seems.
For many triathletes, focusing on one sport gets them away from doing all three sports to the same extent all the time. This may allow them to work on a swim weakness when the weather is too bad for much biking or when they are getting back to their preferred sport for a recharge. You do not have to be a three-sport expert all the time and taking some time out from each sport may even be a good thing to do occasionally. If it’s planned and short term, it won’t affect your long-term progress.
The positives and pitfalls
The up-side of single-sport focus is a hunger to get back to missed sports afterwards. Similarly, you get to really give a sport total focus. However, the downfall, especially in running, is that the overload can lead to injury. Cross training keeps you low on injury risk, but focusing on one sport can lead to muscle overload and injury.
Swimming focus can include hitting the water every day for a week, an open-water event or entering a Masters’ gala. On the bike again, you can get out every day and combine a time trial or harder group with your increased mileage to raise the overload level. Run training must be carefully increased, however, and it may be wise to include Aqua-jogging in the pool and soft surface running to reduce the chances of injury.
Duathlon, lacking the swim segment, is often seen by some people as the easier option to triathlon. However, with two runs to contest, it is actually harder than a triathlon. Use these events wisely and you can improve as a triathlete.
Duathlon is a way to include some tough workouts when triathlons are not available or convenient. Use them pre-season (March through April) to bring on your competition ability and test equipment. As triathlon winds down in late September, duathlons become abundant, so you can extend the season for several weeks by incorporating run-bike-run events. Draw a clear line when the season ends, as you must have your required post-season recuperation period followed by winter base building.
Many short duathlons are organized by tri clubs to give members a chance to compete when or where swim facilities are not convenient. These can be integrated into mid-week or weekends as quality workouts to see how well you are doing. The key with duathlon racing is simple: treat the first run like a cruise, then get on the bike and start to race proper. That way, you run off the bike strong, like a triathlon feels.
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