‘Lean but mean’ is the desired athletic build of a triathlete, just like these professionals. *Photo supplied
‘Lean but mean’ is the desired athletic build of a triathlete, just like these professionals. *Photo supplied

Over the past two weeks I have covered some of the key components that need to be looked at to be a successful triathlete. So let’s continue.

Physiology, which in simple terms is ‘the study of how living things and their parts function’. 

We can’t do anything about the body we are given but we can do something with the body we are given. 

A key component of triathlon is having the right balance of strength against weight.

A muscular upper body might help on the swim but too much upper body muscle means more weight which isn’t going to help on the bike or run.

Muscular legs are useful for sprinters but triathletes should be looking for good definition without again having too much muscle. Lean but mean is the ideal, as shown in the picture.

A good read on this topic is Mark Klion and Troy Jacobson’s book “Triathlon Anatomy”.

As the book says, “for each discipline you need a co-ordinated pattern of muscle recruitment.”

Equally important is making sure that our skeletal and related supporting systems  are balanced, healthy and functioning properly and our hematology (blood) and organs are correct. 

Blood tests from time to time and regular doctor check-ups can catch things early. 

Flora Duffy’s low iron levels would not have been detected without blood tests and things like heart irregularities can be detected. 

Biomechanics and cardiopulmonary function are two other important areas to look at. 

For example, a good exercise physiologist or experienced coach can help determine whether you have muscular or other imbalances. Also, a heart stress test and VO2 max testing are two tools used to determine how well your heart and lungs are functioning. 

If you have trouble breathing, are constantly fatigued or have aches and pains, don’t just assume that they are byproducts of training, as they might stem from a root cause that is preventable and/or treatable.

So the message is, by understanding our body’s physiology we can learn what we can do to maintain it and next week, in the final column on the key components of a successful triathlete,  I will discuss what you can do to maintain your body and discuss “means” and “talent”.

Meanwhile, take note that I have seen a lot of Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish on South Shore so be careful when ocean swim training.