The first thing I find out is how much time you have to train, and what your training history is. I also try to get a feel for what brings you joy in training and what you don’t like. If you for example can’t stand training in a gym, I’ll find alternative ways to get the same training benefit.
Although triathlon is a very time consuming sport, and it definitely is a good idea to train a lot, it is also very important that it is sustainable in your life, also in the long run. It’s no fun burning out.
The picture at the top is of Seiler‘s Hierarchy of Endurance Training Needs (which he kindly let me use), and it illustrates very well what I think works, and what is less effective.
- Train often and as much as possible
- Include high intensity training
- Have the right distribution between intensities, mostly “easy”, seasoned with a little “very hard”
The easy training will often include elements of technique and sports specific strength training, it makes it more fun and more varied.
I do not consider traditional strength training as essential in most cases, but it can be employed to correct specific weaknesses, or if you just like to train like that, and you have the time.
And when that process has run well for at least 6 weeks—preferably 2-4× as long—it is time to train to race, and then the focus will include:
- Race pace
- Taper (last)
If you focus on short course racing, then race pace is the same as high intensity training, so that will just mean more race specific intervals.
Taper is a period of reduced volume before a race, and the length will depend on training volume, the race distance, and how it all fit into the season, because you can’t race fully tapered more than 3-4 times in a season. Max.
The reason is that you perform better when tapered, but it also costs fitness in a period after, and you need time to build it up again after each taper.
Of course the world outside triathlon will get in the way some times, and I will always take that into consideration in the training plan. If you’re going to your best friend’s stag party, are going team building with work, on a business trip or whatever, I can help finding solutions. If there’s a will there’s a way, we just need to use our imagination.
And all of that is illustrated in the picture at the top of Seiler’s Hierarchy of Endurance Training Needs, and you can get your nerd on by reading through the accompanying slides, they’re very informative.