Right now I think my limiters (where I'll have to spend most of my training time and attention in the next year) are:
- Body composition: BAH! Of course, I'm hauling around way way too much body fat. This seems to change very slowly for me. :-( But it would cause the greatest improvement in my speed in all legs of a triathlon if it did.
- Swimming: everything about it - technique, endurance, and confidence. Training will ensure I finish within the swim cutoff, make me more comfortable in the water, and help me not finish the swim leg exhausted, but won't affect my overall time much. If I can stay on course and swim freestyle most of the swim leg, I'll do fine. Every open water swim I can do in the next year is money in the bank.
- Cycling: both endurance and speed. This is where in training I can make the greatest improvement in finishing time and also be less fatigued for the run. I need to extend dramatically the time I can stay in aero position comfortably, at the same speeds or faster than I'm cycling now. That's quite possible to achieve in a year's time. I could use more practice changing flats, certainly.
- Running: progress in a year will probably mostly be due to any changes in body composition, not a lot from any additional training. No great gains expected there. I've done four marathons at well under 7 hours, with hopefully 2 or 3 more coming up soon. For this event I just need to maintain my running fitness.
I think my strong points right now are:
- Hydration, electrolytes, and nutrition: A question mark on the swim, good in transitions, solid on the run, improving on the bike. I'm still working on a solid eat-drink routine and schedule for the bike, and I'm still working on finding a solid food I can eat when I'm hot and working without giving me stomach cramps in aero position.
- Pacing: I think I have a good grasp on my limits and the effects of going out too fast, and generally don't make that mistake. The trick is picking a pace where it feels easy the first third, comfortable but brisk the second third, and you can just hang on by your fingernails the final third.
- Experience: I can always use more triathlon practice, but I think the large number of road races that I've done (including ~20 half marathons) is helpful in teaching me to keep going under adverse conditions and to think on my feet during an event.
- Knowledge: I know the science behind training and performance enhancement. I've taught graduate-level courses and done research in exercise physiology, sports nutrition, and sports biomechanics.
- Mental toughness: I think I've got that aspect covered. Not just in theory, but in lots and lots of races where I've proven it to myself repeatedly in the line of fire. I won't stop until they make me. I don't DNF unless I'm hurt really badly.