Planning your next season
Now that your racing season has ended, it is time to start looking and planning next season training objectives and goals.
The first thing I would like you to know is this. Your commitment to a well structure plan and implementing said plan should reflect your race day goals. Remember this if anything…An 80% plan that you can commit to with conviction and consistency, is much better than an unrealistic 100% poorly executed plan.
That is what it’s going to boil down to in the end. Whether you are racing short course or going long, you are going to put your foot on the start line of a race and ask a lot from your body. The time spent in the pool, on a turbo trainer or pounding the streets is all for you to realise your dreams and aspirations. All the sacrifices you are going to have to make will be worthwhile if you sit down at the end of your season and plot, with some degree of maths and realistic sensible logic, how you are going to head in to this coming winters training. This is not a definitive plan, but a fluid and adaptable one that is tweaked and amended to accommodate the unforeseen: injury, illness and life. All plans are flexible but statistics will tell that those who plan and train methodically and with purpose far exceed those who implement ad-hoc last minute sessions. Remember the saying “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
High Return, Low Risk
There are only so many hours in a day to train therefore we have to think about training smart as our bodies can only handle so much volume and intensity. So how can we utilize this time to get the biggest bang for our buck?
Efficient training is about application; using resources, we have at our disposal to yield the biggest return on investment. Thereby seeing marginal gains in increased athletic performance, minimising our risk of over-training and injury.
Below I have set out my own ideas that have formed the corner stone of my racing career, and now I use with my athletes.
Setting Realistic Goals
Devise a final (realistic) goal to your race season, Your A race. This could be for something as simple as achieving a PB in your favourite race or stepping up a distance. Create monthly goals and objectives that support the successful accomplishment of these seasonal goals.
Can you predict race times using your current history?
In short, Yes. However, there are many things that can (and will) come into play on race day to try to derail you from achieving your dreams and test our reserves. Things like the weather, the profile of the course, nutrition, training and lastly mechanical issues.
If you have raced a couple of times and you want to challenge yourself by racing a longer distance, it is a good idea to have a time in mind (a goal) that is realistic and achievable. A simple rule of thumb is use a time from a shorter race to predict that of a longer event.
If your race history to date consists of Sprint and Olympic events and you wish to step up to a 70.3 event or a full Ironman®, you can use the results from a shorter distance event to get an idea of what you can achieve in the longer event.
If the distance of your upcoming event is, double that of your last race, the general rule of thumb is to double the time and add 5% to that time.
If we double the distances of a standard Olympic event of 0.9miles of swimming, 24.8 miles of cycling and a run of 6.2 miles. We will get 1.8 miles of swimming, 49.6 miles on the bike and a run of 12.4 miles.
If you are looking at racing a 70.3 event and your race history to date is Olympic racing then we need to do a little maths, as a half-ironman event is a little more than just doubling an Olympic triathlon.
Take Triathlete Fred who has a Olympic swim time of 29 minutes, we add 33% to his current time to get 38.5 mins
Fred’s current Olympic bike split of 1.20 (or 1.3 hours) we add 13%, because 28 miles is half that of a 70.3 bike distance. 28 is 13% longer than the Olympic distance. When we do the maths, we do 1.3 hours x 1.13, which results in 1.47 hours. We then double that time to arrive at 2.94 hours. Multiply that number by 1.05 to get an estimate for your 56-mile bike split of 3.1 hours or 3:06.
After a quick transition, Fred is onto the run.
The maths for the run. We add 6% to your current Olympic distance run time, we then double that and again add 5%. Fred averages 9-minute mile pace for a 6.2-mile run, to complete the run in 56 minutes. By using the formula, we first arrive at 59.36 minutes. Double that and multiply the 5% to arrive at a 2 hour 5 minute estimate for a 70.3 run.
Using the maths outlined above, our Fred is looking at a 5 hour 48 minute 70.3 race (not including Transitions).
I always tell my athletes to set parameters with the figure that they arrive at. Using the formula above is the fastest time possible, if it all goes alright on race day!
Know What Needs Extra Attention
Train what you are going to Race. If you plan to race mainly flat courses, there is little need to go out and train on hills. That is not say that hills (strength work) have no place in a periodised plan. Concentrate on your strengths and focusing on limiters, this ensures the application of training currency to activities yielding the highest rate of return.
When making training decisions within a micro set of high-return activities, ask yourself, “What is the lowest-volume and lowest-intensity that are projected to yield the greatest return on your investment?”
Make Your Workouts Count
Within each training period; schedule a session that you can use as a kind of fitness test to see if your training is heading in the right direction. This could be in the form of either a time trial (of the three disciplines) or a regular Functional Threshold Test. For each of these tests, ask yourself these three questions:
1. What is the purpose of this workout and how does it support the objectives of the training period?
2. What is the recovery cost of the workout? I have always defined recovery cost as training volume plus intensity. After the completion of a workout, you have invested time and intensity that has created the potential for increased performance. The return on investment is realised only after paying for the recovery cost of the workout.
3. What strategies can you put in place that will help your body rejuvenate from your previous training session? Things like practicing good recovery methods, pre and post-workout dietary habits, mobility, sleep, etc. Think of it this way…Training without recovery is simply Organised Trauma. Tomorrows training is only going to be as good as today’s, if you implement a structured routine right from the beginning. Tomorrows session starts, the moment today’s session finishes.
When completing any training session you have hypothetically written a cheque and asked your body to cash it. Give yourself time to make a deposit and avoid penalties.
Focus on scheduling ‘Stock-Taking’ training session utilising the guidance above. Schedule sensible, base-building sessions making sure that your personal life is not jeopardised.
Training volume and or intensity is the result of a detailed, planned, schedule, NOT the objective of your training. “Never ever equate fatigue (mental or physical) with effective training”.
Ultimately, you are trying to maximise your rate of return by having a structured plan for the “small details” which are proper nutrition, mobility, strength training and mental clarity. These are the components that will get you across the finish line in the fastest and safest time possible, while minimising the likelihood of picking up an injury.
A triathlon (regardless of the distance) is all about the experience and the things you learn on the way to the finish line. Having an experienced coach overseeing your progress, keeps you on track and motivated but more importantly ensures you do not over train thereby limiting the risk of injuries