Realizing Your Potential: Getting Faster in Your 30’s with Expert Coaching and Consistent Training

October 3rd, 2023 by JoAnn Cranson

By Jeremy Sikkema

Triathlons are a test of physical and mental endurance, requiring participants to excel in swimming, biking, and running. While many may believe that aging marks the decline of athletic prowess, this could not be further from the truth. With the right guidance and a commitment to consistent training, athletes can not only maintain but also enhance their performance in triathlons.

In your 30’s, you might have more responsibilities and a busier schedule because of items such as kids and work. This makes the quality of your training sessions just as important as the quantity. By having a good coach and consistently following a training plan I have been able to go from a middle-of-the-pack athlete to one that is competing at the front of the race in both short and middle-distance triathlons.

In 2015, at the age of 30, I completed the Shermanator sprint triathlon, finishing in 27th place with a time of 1:07:48. While this was already a respectable feat, fast forward eight years to 2023, and I emerged as the overall winner of the Shermanator triathlon, completing the race in 53:32. The result is an example of the potential for improvement, even as one progresses through their 30s.

The Consistency Factor

While talent is undoubtedly important, consistency is the true cornerstone of success in any athletic endeavor.  Maintaining a consistent training routine becomes even more critical.  Here’s how consistent training impacts your triathlon journey.

  • Building Endurance – Consistent training gradually builds endurance, which is crucial for completing the varying distances of a triathlon. Regular sessions condition your body to handle the demands of the race, preventing burnout on the big day.
  • Muscle Memory – As you repeat the three disciplines of swimming, cycling, and running, your body develops muscle memory. This means your movements become more efficient, leading to improved performance and reduced energy expenditure.
  • Moderating Plateaus – Progress isn’t always linear, and training plateaus are common. However, with consistent training, you can push through these plateaus and continue to see improvements over time.
  • Injury Prevention – Consistency also plays a role in injury prevention. Gradually increasing your training load with regularity allows your body to adapt and grow stronger without succumbing to overuse injuries.

The Power of Coaching

A key factor in accelerating your progress in triathlons is the presence of a skilled and knowledgeable coach. Coaches bring a wealth of experience, technical expertise, and personalized guidance to the table, tailoring their approach to your individual needs and goals. Here’s how a good coach can make a significant difference:

  • Customized Training Plans – A coach will design training plans that align with your current fitness level, taking into account any pre-existing conditions or limitations. This tailored approach minimizes the risk of injuries while maximizing progress.
  • Goal Setting – A coach helps you set realistic yet challenging goals, breaking down your long-term objectives into smaller, achievable milestones. This approach keeps you motivated and focused on continuous improvement.
  • Technical Expertise – Triathlons require mastering three distinct disciplines. A coach can refine your swimming technique, enhance your cycling efficiency, and optimize your running form. These technical adjustments lead to improved overall performance.
  • Monitoring and Feedback – With regular assessments and feedback, coaches ensure that you’re on the right track. They can analyze your performance metrics, suggest adjustments, and provide insights for ongoing enhancement.

Training Smarter, Not Just Harder

First Triathlon

In 2018, I undertook my first half-distance triathlon at the Grand Rapids Triathlon, completing the race in 5:30:33. Five years later, in 2023, a dramatic change in results unfolded when I crossed the finish line in 4:44:32. The highlight of this journey was the biking segment that allowed me to bridge to the front of the race and enter T2 in second place.

Embarking on a journey to complete and/or get faster at triathlons as you age is a testament to your determination and commitment to self-improvement. Through the guidance of a good coach and consistent training, you can shatter the misconception that age hinders athletic achievements. Remember that progress might be gradual, but each step forward brings you closer to realizing your full potential as a triathlete.

So, lace up your running shoes, hop on your bike, and dive into the pool with renewed vigor. With the right mindset and consistently following a well-structured approach, you can thrive as a triathlete well into your 30’s and beyond. The finish line awaits – and it’s never been closer.

The Power of the Mind

September 23rd, 2020 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Brian Reynolds

Every triathlete should know that a Triathlon is not only physically demanding on the body but is also mentally demanding.  Our body will only go as hard as our mind will allow.  If our mind doesn’t want to push the pace then our body will not push the pace.  Our mind and body are one which means it’s imperative to work on your mental game in training since it can have a big performance impact on race day.

Let me share a quick story with you about one of my 5 hour rides I did this summer.  The long ride was supposed to be a steady zone 2 aerobic effort on a warm Saturday morning.  I felt ok for the first 2 hours considering it was warm and humid.  I was holding around my usual power for the first half of the ride.  By the 3rd hour I was starting to feel more fatigue in the legs and my power began to gradually decline.  This is unusual for me to start slowing down by the 3rd hour into a 5 hour ride.  Normally I’m able to increase the effort and push the pace harder.  When this was happening I was starting to doubt if I would be able to maintain the same power throughout the ride.  It felt like a war was going on in my head.  My doubt and fear was my enemy and I was in a retreat during the 3rd hour of the ride.

By the 4th hour of the ride my doubt and fear had taken over my mind and I didn’t have any motivation or willpower to keep pushing through the discomfort.  I just gave up and rode between 140 to 180 watts.  Normally I would be pushing 230+ watts by this time into the ride.  In my head it felt like I had retreated from my enemy and I was hiding out in the bunker until the ride was over.  I was making excuses for myself  by saying that it was ok to take it easy and just soft pedal back home.  Besides all of the races have been cancelled anyways due to COVID so what am I killing myself for?  I got to a point into the ride where I couldn’t accept this excuse.  I had to find a way to get myself out of this rut and the only person who was going to do it was going to be me.  I had no support crew to cheer me on and encourage me along.

When I got to the 4:10 hour mark it was like a light switch got flicked.  I went from soft pedaling at 140 watts to 200 watts just like that.  I was able to average 200+ watts for the remainder of the 5 hour ride and the effort felt the same or slightly easier than when I was pedaling 140 watts.  What was the difference?  How did I go from being weak to being strong in a very short timespan?  I changed my headspace.  Instead of thinking of the discomfort and feeling sorry for myself I flipped the script.  I envisioned that I was strong and couldn’t feel pain.  I concentrated all of my focus on being strong and having total control of my mind and body.  I wondered to myself how can changing your headspace make you go faster?  Apparently through this process I was getting neural energy from a release of dopamine which put me in a “feel good” state.  In addition dopamine will buffer adrenaline which is important because every bit of physical effort requires adrenaline and when your adrenaline level reaches a certain threshold in the body our brain stops voluntary muscular control.  Basically your body is saying “I quit”.  Dopamine pushes back the level of adrenaline and it gives you more energy.

As I rode with higher power and a lower effort level it got me excited and I began to zone in even further.  It’s likely my body was releasing more dopamine because I was able to raise my power even more by the end of the ride.  What I learned on this ride is no matter how bad I was feeling or how bad the situation I was able to turn it around.  You always have the power and that power is your mind.  Your mind can give you the infinite energy so long as you have control of your mind to keep fear and doubt at bay.


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