(MRN, 1) This is to indicate that brain cells
are more actively produced by physical activity, convincing neurological
theorists that regular athletic orientation will improve one's academic
capacity and intellectual clarity. Still, as with other beneficial aspects
of an athlete's physical and intellectual growth, sporting activity must be
pursued in at least some degree of moderation. For both the implications
of what Metzl refers to as overuse and the consequences of an overly
centralized focus on athletic activity, there may be real and long-term
repercussions to failing to balance this emphasis with other healthy or
meaningful activities. Especially concerning bone and joint injuries,
overuse of specific parts of the body in a continuous and monotonous manner
will result in chronic pains and ultimately, lifelong localized injuries.
Therefore, especially when training for an endurance event, where sustained
energy is crucial, in training moderation can be a key to the prevention of
such injuries or the recovery there from.
Moreover, our research finds that in addition to the increased risk of long-
term injury which is likely to be produced through overuse, that the
benefits spoken of here above from endurance training to intellectual
development may be stunted. As Metzl's text intimates, excessive exercise
can actually have the effect of mitigating some of its own positive
attributes. The earlier discussion here on the brain-cell generation
produced by healthy and regular athletic activity retains its veracity.
However, "on the other hand, exaggerated exercise, when the body doesn't
have a chance to recover, has a negative effect, with fewer brain cells as
a result." (MRN, 1) This means that at a certain level of intensity and
frequency, the positive neurological impact of endurance begins to plateau
as does the positive physical impact. Here, we can deduce that a
moderation of one's activity is important not just from a physical
standpoint from an intellectual one as well. This justifies developing a
clear understanding of how cross-training should be pursued, with the
utmost of care and restraint. The literature on this subject brings us the
recurrent summation that the object is not to over-extend one's self but to
improve one's capacity for extension.
With this in mind, there is an understanding available to us which
stresses the physiological qualities acquired by those engaged in triathlon
endurance training. Specific physical traits relating to the mode of
participation appear in higher degrees in those excelling at triathlon
competition. One crucial feature which is noted to be almost universally
present in triathlon competitors is the capacity to endure through the
buildup of lactic acid-or what White (2008) refers to as being at LT-in the
muscles in order to reach a 'second wind.' The triathlete who has engaged
proper conditions and training processes will be able to endure the pain
and exhaustion which generally accompany this buildup and, instead of
seeking release, will power through this period. Accordingly, "studies
have shown that trained athletes can race at their LT for about one hour.
By training at or just below your LT, you are training your body to work
hard and remove the lactic acid from your blood, effectively increasing
your LT. After training at this intensity level, you will be able to
produce more power, and therefore more speed, at any given intensity below
your LT." (White, 1) Constant conditioning is the only way to improve
this threshold. As research points out with fairly universal outcomes,
the persistence of the athlete in overcoming the pressure of lactic buildup
can be a crucial obstacle to scale before long-range competitive
involvement is feasible.
This is also found to be true of the capacity of the individual to
take in and utilize oxygen. A fundamental part of conditioning is training
for breathing even as one trains to run, swim or cycle. According to a
useful study by O'Toole & Douglas (1995) "aerobic capacity (measured as
maximal oxygen uptake, VO2max), economy of motion (submaximal VO2) and
fractional utilisation of maximal capacity (%VO2max) reflect the integrated
responses of these physiological adaptations. Numerous studies have
reported relatively high mean VO2max values for various groups of
triathletes that are comparable to those reported for athletes in single-
event endurance sports and clearly above those reported for untrained
individuals" (O'Toole & Douglas, 251) This is to say that as a matter of
the conditioning related to competitive participation in the triathalon,
individuals with experience and training in this area will be more
inherently economic in their intake and usage of oxygen. There is a high
correlation between above-average respiratory strengths and success in
It is for this reason that one of the core debates underlying the
origin of the triathlon remains in circulation. Namely, it is oft-noted,
and potentially by myth, that the original events of this nature which took
place in early 20th century France emerged from the friendly boasting
runners, swimmers and cyclists engaged against one another in a playful
attempt to determine which was the most fit type of athlete. Today, many
scientific examinations of the subject attempt to determine which of the
three sports might best prepare for engagement in the others, thus
directing a core course of training. With that in mind, our attention had
been drawn to "studies [which] suggest that competitive swimmers have
better swimming economy than triathletes. However, since many triathletes
have previously been competitive swimmers this finding is questionable. The
finding suggests that triathletes from nonswimming backgrounds would
benefit from improving swimming technique rather than concentrating
training workouts solely on distance." (O'Toole & Douglas, 251) Such is to
say that most often the respiratory challenges which are magnified by
swimming can present the greatest challenge to the evolving participant.
And most especially, because the swimming competition today is standardized
in most contexts to take place first, the approach here taken is certain to
set the pace of available energy to the competitor thereafter.
Ultimately our findings lead us to several key conclusions on this
subject of pacing especially, noting that training must induce above all
things a sense of scale as to what the body must be prepared for. The
length and distance of the triathalon are indeed daunting and must be
respected by the participant. Through the refinement of respiratory
capacity, muscle stamina and muscle movement economy, even the average
individual can work toward this peak level of athletic competitiveness.
In many ways, the field of study on this subject is still rather
young, with the degree of seriousness to which the field is treated
evolving to this day. Therefore, we can expect a greater body of research
on training methods, proper conditioning and pacing techniques that will
further improve the quality of athlete and level of competition that is
already extraordinarily high.
Beginner Triathlete (BT). (2008). The Original 13 Week Sprint Training
Plan. Beginner Triathlete.com.
Harr, E. (2003). Triathlon training in four hours a week: from beginner
to finish line in just six weeks. Rodale.
Hiller, W.D.B.; O'Toole, M.L.; Fortess, E.E.,; Laird, R.H.; Imbert, P.C. &
Sisk, T.D. (1987). Medical and physiological considerations in
triathlons, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 15, 164-167.
Metzl M.D. , Jordan D. & Carol Shookhoff. (2003). The Young Athelete: A
Sports Doctor's Complete Guide for Parents. Little, Brown and Company.
Mora, J. (1999). Triathlon 101: Essentials for multisport success.
O'Toole, M.L. & Douglas, P.S. (1995). Applied physiology of triathlon.
Sports Medicine, 19(4), 251-267.
MRN. (2005). Exercise in Moderation Best for the Brain. News-Medical.
Online at http://www.news-medical.net/?id=14724.
Price, R.G. (2005). The ultimate guide to weight training for triathlon.
Sleivert, G.G. & Rowlands, D.S. (1996). Physical and physiological
factors associated with success in the triathalon. Sports Medicine,…