Can triathlon training plans help you to attain your goals in 2017? We look at the benefits and disadvantages...
As one year draws to an end and another one looms into view, it's a great time to set some Triathlon New Year's Resolutions for 2017. As an athlete this will probably involve thinking about how to get fitter, leaner and faster.
One thing that might be near the top of your list is a triathlon training plan. A day to day training schedule designed by a coach that can help you to train more effectively for your key races. If you're already using a triathlon training plan, here are a few tips to help you follow it effectively.
I followed a triathlon training plan for 15 of my 20 years as a triathlete and my fitness and race results certainly improved significantly from the point when I started. Within a year of properly planned training I was winning local races and finishing on the podium at National age-group level.
Initially my training plans were just pieces of paper, but over time I moved onto PDF's and then pre-written plans using software such as Garmin Connect, Training Peaks or Strava. Mostly they were self written, with inspiration taken from books and magazines.
Following a training plan is not always the same thing as having a coach. Unless you pay extra for that personal coaching support, all you'll get is a pre-written plan, Generally a training plan like this doesn't talk back, make you feel good or tell you what to do when you're sick, injured or stuck at work. And it's not written specifically with you, your job, your likes and dislikes in mind either.
So clearly there are advantages and disadvantages to using a triathlon training plan and in this blog I aim to explain the pro's and con's. I'll also give you some general advice on where to find one that might work for you.
Triathlon Training Plans Pro's and Con's
Which Type Of Triathlon Training Plan Is Best For You?
1. Coached Plans
Hiring a coach gives you the highest chance of success but it's also the most expensive option. Your coach will design a training plan that suits your goals, fitness and availability. They will update your plan every week or every month so that it progresses at the right rate for you. And if you can't train for any reason (work commitments for example) they will adjust the plan and tell you what to do instead. They'll also provide constant feedback and wise words along the way. This usually involves a monthly fee, between £60 and £250 depending on the coach and the service they offer.
Where to Look:
myprocoach.net, britishtriathlon.org, trainingpeaks.com, ironman.com, usatriathlon.org
2. Paid For Triathlon Training Plans
This is the next most effective option. Buying a pre-written triathlon training plan offers you far greater choice than trying to find a free one. You're more likely to find one that suits you exact needs in terms of experience, duration and weekly volume. You can browse a wide range of plans and authors, read the descriptions and choose the one that suits you best. If you buy a plan that's hosted on a platform such as TrainingPeaks you can wirelessly upload your training data, track your progress and analyse your workouts. Some training plans even offer email access to the coach if you need help. Prices range from £10 to £100 depending on the duration, type and author.
Where to Look:
3. Free Triathlon Training Plans
Free training plans are probably the least effective option of the three here but they're still much better than having no plan at all. They usually come in the form of a PDF download or a print-out, covering 12 weeks or less. I've written dozens of these plans for magazines and websites, and I must admit to being limited by the strict wordcount and also by trying to please everyone. With free plans, the choice of authors and the range of events is limited, which means you're less likely to find a plan that suits your specific needs. Even so, they are a great introduction to the world of structured and progressive training.
Where to Look:
The Serious Triathlon Blog
Train Smart. Race Fast.
Phil Mosley is a triathlon coach and writer.