The season is over, time to relax, nothing much to do now till next year, right? Wrong! Triathlon is a periodisation sport, which means there should be different training going on at different times of year, all based around your triathlon season. How do you work this all out?
1) Set your goals:
What are the 3 things you want to achieve in the up-coming race season? Make sure your targets are realistic, measurable, and performance related. For example the first year I properly planned my own season, my goal was simply to complete a half iron distance triathlon. Then set your training objectives. There are fitness related targets that will help you achieve the goal. For example, mine were:
a) Get a better half marathon time
b) Increase bike distance in training
c) do at least 1 weights session per week
Then, establish the hours you will be able to spend training. The suggested hours for junior / amateur beginner racers are:
Ironman: 600-1200 per year
Half ironman: 500-700 per year
Olympic: 400-600 per year
Sprint: 300-500 per year
Juniors: 200-300 per year
2) Plan your race year
Write onto a blank training calendar (like, Joe Friel’s ‘triathletes training diary’) the races you will do. Then prioritise them, and next to each decide is it A, B or C.
A: most important, should be no more than 3-4 per year, should closely relate to your season goals
B: not as important as A races, so there isnt any peaking or tapering, just 2-4 days rest.
C: least important, ones you may not even do. You will train ‘through’ them, and they will simply be a good workout.
3) Establish your training periods
Divide your season into periods. a clump of A races is ‘race period’ and may be 1 – 6 weeks. 1-2 weeks before each race period, write in 2 weeks ‘peak’. Before each ‘peak’ is 6-10 weeks build period. The first one of the year is preceeded by 8-12 weeks ‘base’ period, and before that, 3-4 weeks ‘prep’ period. Short rest periods after each of the race periods is called ‘transition’
Prep: general adaptation to weights, training, drills
Base: establishing base fitness. Hill strength, muscular endurance, near lactate threshold.
Build: developing race specific fitness, increse speed, intervals, tempo, refining hill strength, improving race limiters
Peak: reduce volume and allow for more recovery days between hard workouts. Simulate raceing, e.g. brick sessions, mini race simulations
Race: focussed racing and greatly reduced training
Transition: extended rest and recovery
4) Weekly hours
Fill in the amount of weekly hours you will train, including strength and cross training. Base this on the weekly training table in the photo (this is from Joe Friel’s triathlete training diary. Divide the time between the three sports, in a way that reflects the type of race you are preparing for and your personal limiters. For example, most triathlons are predominantly the bike leg (in both time and distance).
Your workouts should be divided into the following types, roughly.
Endurance: longer low intensity.
Force: resistance, (developing power) e.g. swim in rough water, hills, training in the wind
Speed: usually emphasises form ant technique – speed sets / sprints
Muscular endurance: combination of force and endurance
Anaerobic endurance: workouts to help you resist fatigue – e.g. high arm / leg turnover (later in the season)
Power: short all out efforts, best done early in a training session before you are fatigued
Testing: regularly set yourself bench mark tests to check fitness, best done on recovery weeks.
Here is an example: this is the training diary I filled in for myself.
If you want to read more about planning your own race season and training, these are the books I would recommend:
The Perfect Distance, by Tom Rodgers (training for long course triathlons)
The triathletes training bible, by Joe Friel
Triathlon Workout planner, by John Mora
The triathletes training Diary, by Joe Friel