USA Triathlon News KidZone Training Tips from C...

Training Tips from Camp

By Cassandra Johnson | Dec. 21, 2015, 5:21 p.m. (ET)

training tips from camp

Imagine training, eating and hanging out at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just like the world’s top elite athletes. Twenty-six junior triathletes (ages 15-17) had the opportunity to do just that at the men’s and women’s junior elite camps. They learned new skills and strategies from the best U.S. elite athletes and coaches in the country — and now they want to share their advice with you! 

Juniors Tell All

Ben Dingman"Make sure when you’re racing, you absolutely love what you’re doing. Put everything you have out there." – Audrey Ernst, 16, South Elgin, Illinois

"My swim coach likes to say that if you’re not always trying to improve, you’re falling behind. Pessimistic as this may sound, it’s really a message about an important mental habit in training. The idea behind it is that you should never just be satisfied with where you are. Never finish a workout and think, that’s good enough. After a really good workout you should appreciate the progress you’ve made but still think about how you can improve even further the next time. Know your own limitations, but never accept them as final." – Ben Dingman, 17, Colorado Springs, Colorado

"Be comfortable mounting and dismounting the bike before the triathlon. I would also suggest that the seat (or saddle) be properly adjusted to maximize your pedal strokes while saving your legs for the run. The seat should be high enough so that on the down stroke of the pedal, your leg is only slightly bent." – Bryan Pendergraft, 15, Conway, Arkansas

"Swimming is one of the most crucial parts of the triathlon. You can’t win the race from the swim, but you can definitely lose it. Half of the battle is becoming comfortable in an uncomfortable situation; you must be able to trust your training and be able to adapt to whatever situation is at hand. Taking things one step at a time and mastering the process of execution will bring success in the water."  – Chase McQueen, 17, Columbus, Indiana

junior triathletes"It's important to ask questions when you have the chance. You have to take advantage [of your coaches and peers] and ask questions when you’re not sure." – Claudia Wendt, 16, Olney, Maryland

"One of the challenges I’ve found through my time training for triathlons has been the ability to maintain my mental fortitude. I know many people who train countless hours to win their next medal, trophy or to be on the podium. In the end, it’s not all about winning for me, but also the act of praising God with my hard work and effort. My advice to you is this: do not be selfish with the gifts you have. Instead find a way to use them for someone else; whether it’s praising and worshiping God or raising money for a charity." – Christian Brasher, 15, Fort Worth, Texas

"Surround yourself with excellence, because when you’re surrounded by excellence everyone tries to push you and you push them, and eventually you might become a part of that excellence." – Devon Kroeker, 16, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Drew Hershey"One tip I would give anyone in the sport, whether they are just starting or experienced, is not to waste too much energy before the race thinking about the outcome or what you might go through during the race. Focus on the little things you can do before the race that can give you the best possible chance at having a good result." – Drew Hershey, 17, Johnston, Iowa

"Set goals every day in training! Setting goals directed toward what you want to achieve each individual day will act as stepping-stones leading you toward your larger goals in the season. Having goals each day will help you stay sharp and focused within your training as well as keeping you constantly thinking of areas you need to improve." – Gus Newcomb, 17, Middleton, Wisconsin

"Simulate running like you would in a triathlon (off the bike and a little tired) with bricks. But instead of doing a bike and run just once back to back, keep switching. My coach Sonni Dyer taught me to take a track workout, like 400s or 800s, and cut off about half the reps (10x400 to 5x400) and add in a few minutes of intensive biking or a short set of intervals (3-4 minutes hard or a few 30/30s) between reps. This is really good for shorter races when you need fast running and high turnover off the bike. You need fast bike-to-run transitions to get the effect of this, so you get some practice there, too." – Jake Baugher, 15, Charlotte, North Carolina

"Have a growth mindset. Be mindful of what the experts are telling you and take it as positive feedback. Be confident and believe in yourself that you can do this." – Katelyn Elliott, 15, Porter, Texas

Kenzi Wilson"Confidence is key. You don’t always feel confident in a race, but you can act confident. If you don’t believe in yourself you’re going to be mentally defeated." – Kenzi Wilson, 16, Carmel, Indiana

"Know the course — I’ve got lost enough times to figure out you should know exactly where the course is. Always set high expectations and goals for yourself. Maintain a love for the sport. And always have a fall back goal to remain vertical on the bicycle." – Lauren Garriques, 15, Lake Forest, Illinois

"Persevere through setbacks and focus on what you’ve done correctly in a race. You want to try to progress as an athlete, so you should also focus on what you’ve done incorrectly and try to correct that in the following races." – Madison McCollum, 15, Knoxville, Tennessee

"It really helps me to have a race day routine. I always come up with a schedule based on my race start time. It usually includes what time I'll get up on race day, pre-race meal and snack time, race site arrival time, transition check-in time and warm up. Having a schedule prepared for each race helps me put all of my energy and focus into my race." – Matthew Rigsby, 15, Brentwood, Tennessee

Nick Johnson"Visualizing race situations while doing a hard workout or one last effort can mean the difference between a first place and a second place finish. I believe that when you practice hard situations even if you think that they might not happen, you might thank yourself later in a race when you have prepared for that moment in your training." – Max Goeke, 15, Mission Hills, Kansas

"I struggled for a while with what to eat in the morning before a triathlon. Often, I would eat very little. This is not anywhere near ideal. So, my Z3 coach suggested peanut butter on an English muffin and scrambled eggs. I started following this advice two years ago and found it works well for me so that I do not lose important energy during the race. Advice: stay open-minded and search for what is best for you and your race." – Nick Johnson, 16, St. Paul, Minnesota

"If you don’t know where the start line is or where to rack your bike, an official is always there to help you. I know they’re sometimes big and intimidating, but they’re really there for all the kids. If they didn’t want to be there, they wouldn’t be." – Olivia Jenks, 15, Ames, Iowa

"Enjoy the process; don’t focus on the outcome. The process is what you’re going to learn from and what’s most important — the outcome isn’t really that important." – Page Lester, 16, Washington, D.C.

Taylor Knibb"This something I heard from one of my mentors in triathlon. We were training together and she said, ‘slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.’ It just reminded me not to rush myself into something that I’m doing during training. Slow it down; get it right. Then you can speed it up and get faster." – Ruth-Ann Reeves, 16, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

"Every race is a learning experience, so every race can be a positive experience if you look at it the right way. Even if you don’t have the outcome you were hoping for, it’s a stepping-stone and it should be something you are proud of. Focus on the things you can control in the process. Don’t waste your energy worrying on things that are out of your control or the outcome." – Taylor Knibb, 17, Washington, D.C.

"It's very important to incorporate some short, fast bricks into your training to prepare for what you will experience on race day. I especially like doing bike-run bricks to get used to running hard off the bike, when my legs can feel really heavy. My favorite kind of brick workout involves riding hard for 10-15 minutes at around race effort, then going straight into some short, fast running intervals on the track, focusing on good running form. These are great for simulating the feeling in your legs on race day!" – Tom Oates, 15, Chelsea, Michigan

Elites Have Been There, Too

"Believe in yourself! Every pro athlete, famous artist, and movie star started out just like you: doing something they love to do! With hard work, anything can be achieved." – Ben Kanute, Highest-Ranked U.S. Male Triathlete

sara mclarty"Focus on the process and not the outcome. A lot of times you sit down and say, ‘I want to win or qualify for nationals.’ Sometimes that can be a limiter and it doesn’t allow you to succeed as an athlete. It’s not bad to have those sorts of goals, but you should also have goals that are process driven such as how are you going to accomplish that goal: work on stroke technique or be in the pool one extra time a week." –Gwen Jorgensen, 2016 U.S. Olympic Qualifier

"The best advice I got when I was a junior was to treat every race like the little local races you do in your hometown. There was a time I was overthinking the bigger races and had a string of rough results. My coach had me do a small race near my town and I had one of my best races up to that date. Why did I do so well? It's because I just had fun with my teammates and went in not too serious thinking about the end result. That's the attitude I started having after that and I started competed much better in the bigger races." – Kevin McDowell, 2015 Pan American Games Silver Medalist

"Practice your sighting by putting your water bottle on the edge of the pool and when you’re swimming back toward it, make sure you lift your head out of the water three or four times so that you can see your water bottle and practice that motion with your head in the pool, so you’re ready for the open water when you get out there." – Sara McLarty, Coach and Professional Triathlete