It's all in the little things
I wanted to make one of my Multisport Canada training articles on all of the little things you can do in your daily routine that can actually end up having a significant effect on your performance and training. Small habits that are easy to incorporate but are often overlooked by athletes (myself included). Somehow it took me years to get these very simple things figured out, maybe because I didn't realize collectively how large of an impact they would end up having on my performance (and general well-being), or maybe because I wasn't sure how to implement them. Regardless, I now consider these simple habits essential components of my training, and hopefully I can convince you to incorporate some of them into your routine.
1) We'll start with the easiest and most obvious one, notwithstanding my opinion that its importance is still vastly underrated. The first tip is staying hydrated. And I don't mean hydrating properly during exercise (although this is obviously important as well, and something that I mess up more times than I don't), but I mean staying hydrated throughout the day, every day. This is an important distinction. About 6 years ago when I first started triathlon, and had been running somewhat competitively for a few years prior, my legs felt like they were ALWAYS TIGHT AND TIRED, both during and not during exercise (quiet grammar police). I had no idea why. It turned out the issue was a result of not being properly hydrated. The simple fix was to carry around a reusable water bottle, everywhere, and sip on it throughout the day. This is one of the simplest but most effective tricks I've ever incorporated into my training. There's 4 items I bring with me pretty much everywhere I go: my phone, my keys, my wallet and my water bottle. I dare you to try and catch me without it this summer.
2) The next point I want to bring up is a CONSISTENT core/strength routine. I already did an article on exercising the glut med, so I won't talk about it again, aside from reminding you that it is the most important exercise you'll ever do as a runner/triathlete. I just wanted to highlight the importance of performing a consistent gym routine. This doesn't have to be in a gym however. For the past year, I've been doing 20mins 3x/week of simple, mostly body weight exercises in my apartment. 20min strength workouts are probably the shortest that I've ever planned into a gym routine, but I've been able to do them consistently week after week, month after month and have seen better results than I ever have while trying to do longer gym sessions, less consistently.
3) Next, I want to bring up something that I think a lot of endurance athletes simply don't realize may be an issue. And that is iron levels. I think low iron and/or anemia effects more endurance athletes than you may realize (yes, guys too). It's something that I constantly struggle with, as do many other runners and triathletes that I know. Something you can always try to do more of as an endurance athlete is incorporate iron and vitamin C into your diet, and if needed maybe consider supplementation.
4) My final suggestion is making small, sustainable changes to eating healthy. This is more about developing the habit than anything else. I find something that worked really well for me is making a goal to get 2 servings of fruits or vegetables every day. Canada's Food Guide recommends closer to 8-10. But starting by making sure you get 2 every day, no matter what, is a good start and will build the habit of incorporating them into your routine.
You can catch me at the Multisport Canada Welland Long Course Triathlon this weekend. If you see me at the finish line and I am still conscious, make sure to say hi.