The A,B,C's of Planning
Your Triathlon Race Season
The post-season or off-season is an
ideal time to begin planning your upcoming triathlon race
Matt Russ - The Sports Factory
post-season or off-season is an excellent time of year to consider what you would
like to accomplish athletically in the next. As with many
things, planning is the key to accomplishment for your
upcoming triathlon race season.
you are a recreational athlete, and your goal is simply to
complete your events, then you only need to train one
aspect of fitness; endurance. This entails planning enough
time to slowly build your mileage to within about 10-15%
of the distance of your goal race. Note that many overuse
injuries are caused by too much mileage too quickly. Do
not increase your duration more than 10% per week and take
at least every fourth week as a rest and recovery week.
During a rest and recovery week you should cut back your
mileage by at least 25%, reduce your overall training
volume, and add in an extra rest or active recovery day.
If you are a runner take a day of non-impact cross
training in place of a run.
athletes, however, must take a different approach. A
competitive athlete by my definition is any athlete that
sets a specific performance goal. This may be a simple as
a personal record. You do not have to win races to be
competitive. If you would like to set a personal record or
race placement goal this season it will require more
careful planning and organization of your race events.
Start by prioritizing them into A, B, and C events.
"A" events are the ones you will direct your
training efforts towards. For best results they should be
similar or the same format (ex. sprint triathlon). These
are your main goals for the season and your training
should gradually progress towards these races or events.
Put these on your calendar first. Note that A races take
time to train for. Plan on taking at least 12 weeks of
specific and directed training for an A races; this is
called "peaking." Schedule your A races in 4
week clusters or separate them by at least 10-12 weeks.
If your race is an ultra endurance event such as a half
Iron distance or Iron distance race, this will be your only peak race
for that period. Your
training should ramp in intensity and specificity as you
approach your A races. Your last work outs prior to your A
race taper should closely mimic race intensity and format.
is a taper?? Tapering means reducing training volume
prior to a goal race in order to facilitate total and
complete recovery. Generally
you should incorporate a taper a week or two prior
to your A race. The length of the taper will depend on the
length of your event; the longer the event the longer the
taper length. An
Ironman will require a taper of up to 4 weeks. From
a training stand point there is nothing you can do the
week of a goal race to physiologically increase
performance but there are many opportunities to reduce it.
After completing an A race plan on taking a week of active
rest and recovery.
events are training events you would like to do well at
but are not goal races. B events are excellent warm ups
for A events. They are an opportunity to test and hone
your race skills without the pressure of an A event. B
events do not have to be the same format as an A event but
should help contribute to your A race performance. You
still want to give 100% for a B event. An example would be
a 10k running event prior to an Olympic distance
triathlon. You should rest or reduce your training load a
few days before a B event but do not taper as you would
for an A event. Be careful not to overschedule B
events. Although you are not training for them
specifically, any race will require considerable recovery
time and may take valuable training time away from your
events are fun events you enjoy doing but are not goal
related. These are good events to leave the heart rate
monitor at home for. You do not have to push yourself
physically during these events or have any performance
objectives. I like my athletes to schedule C events during
their base training to keep their enthusiasm up. C events
can be completely different from your A events. If you
runner you could do 50 mile cycling event for charity. C
events keep you active and interested in training.
good place to start is with a 12 month calendar. Put your
A races on first, then proceed to B and C. It is important
not to schedule C events close to your goal events. This
time is reserved for more specific and directed training.
Not only does prioritizing your races help with your
training, it helps identify what you would like to
accomplish as an athlete. Don't let your races sneak up on
Russ has coached and trained elite athletes
from around the country and internationally for over ten
years. He currently holds expert licenses from
Cycling (Elite), and is a licensed
Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The
Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full
time. He is a free lance author and his articles are
regularly featured in a variety of magazines such as
Inside Triathlon, and Triathlete. Visit www.thesportfactory.com
for more information or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org