Monthly Triathlon Training Advice
by Phil Mosley, Triathlon Coach
I was recently emailing a new coaching client with some initial training guidelines, and I thought I might turn it into a blog. He's fairly new to triathlon, so I wrote him an initial 7-day training plan. The guidelines apply to all new triathletes, so I hope they are of some use to you!
- TRAINING PHASES
Let's start by splitting your training year into phases. The first six weeks are the "Prep" phase. The main goal during this phase is to get into the routine of regular triathlon training, and to try some new things out (such as a Masters swim club). Don't expect to get everything right during this phase. Hopefully by the end of six weeks you will have worked out a really efficient and effective training routine to move forwards with.
Consistency is the golden ticket, more than any single workout. Triathlon training is a bit like investing in stocks and shares - it's better to think in terms of long term gains, rather than overnight success. Don't get too focused on good days or bad days or over analysing your data. Each session is another jelly bean in the jar. We'll adopt a pattern of two weeks hard training, followed by one week easy (plus an end of season break) to help you stay consistent.
- RACING GOALS
I think you should enter several triathlons in 2014 for experience. Racing well at triathlon is about
skill as much as fitness, especially in your first few seasons. It's easy to waste loads of time making schoolboy race errors (everyone does it!) so it's better to go through that learning curve in your first proper season, in low-priority races, rather than the big ones. Therefore, between May and September I would recommend you to enter several triathlon races (one every 3-weeks or so), with at least 2-weeks gap between each one. I would do some local sprints, as they are good experience and you can recover quickly from them. Also a couple of Olympic distance races too. Races fill up fast, so it's important to get on the case now. Start by using the events guide on Tri247.com.
- PRIORITISING RACES
Once you have a list of races, we can assign a priority to each one (A, B or C). 'C' races are for training and experience, nothing more. 'B' races are important, but not the main target of your training. 'A' races are the ones you really want to do well in. They are the focus of your training. You can have a couple of A races, about 5 B races, and another 7 to 10 C races in a season. The idea is that it's not possible to be in Peak shape for every race, so its better to have your Peak period around your A races.
- STRENGTH & CONDITIONING
Lets not worry about this just yet. It can be useful, but we're talking marginal gains compared with what we can achieve in swim/bike/run at the moment. Let's get a good training routine going, and then we can look to add strength work later.
The quickest way to get fast at swimming is by getting as much 1-1 coaching as possible. I would try a tri club or Masters club session. I always prefer you to do all your swimming in group sessions, rather than solo. However, if you swim solo you should always follow a structured session.
- TRAINING ZONES
I have set your workouts using Heart Rate intensity zones. However, don't be a slave to the training zones or worry when you're not "in the zone". For beginners they are a useful guide, but the most important thing is that you're out there training consistently.
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Phil Mosley is a triathlon coach and triathlon magazine writer.