You have signed up for your next triathlon or even your first triathlon, now what? You know it will involve a swim, a bike, and a run portion but you are unsure how to train for all three, at the same time. Fear not, you are not alone in this dilemma. Triathlon training will require time management, dedication, and potentially some early mornings on your behalf. This can all be achieved with the right training plan that fits around your current lifestyle.
It may seem intuitive to train yourself – swim a little here, bike a bit there, and run in between. The nature of setting up a training plan involves more than just picking and choosing days to exercise. To build a successful program, you need to know days to load your body and days to back off, weekly structure, monthly structure, and how to peak properly. This is why triathlon training becomes a bit tricky since you are trying to juggle three sports! It is no easy task. A challenge like a triathlon requires you to put all of the right tools in place: equipment, support from friends and family, and expert training. Commit to a plan, execute the training, and achieve your goals come race day.
How you want to perform on race day is the driving force behind any training plan you choose.
Training plans will be built to enable you to hit your peak performance on race day. All programs should begin by identifying your goals and then setting up a road map based on the timeline given. A good way to approach selecting a program is to give yourself at least 12 weeks in advance of your chosen event to begin a plan. If you are new to the sport and are shooting for a long course race (half or full Ironman,) then it would be best to get a sprint or Olympic distance race under your belt to begin. It is important to slowly build your fitness and the level of intensity to aim for optimum performance on the day that counts. Many times, athletes find they have overtrained for an event when left to their own devices. Being that you are a triathlete, lack of motivation is probably not an issue for you! Training plans can be viewed as guardrails that will push you the right amount, but will hold you back when necessary. Remember: it is always better to be a little underdone than overcooked when race day comes.
How do you get the most out of your training?
Is it simply logging the most hours per week, is it hard high-intensity sessions daily, or is it possibly finding the right formula that works for you? It is pretty easy these days to browse the internet for a quick fix training plan for your upcoming triathlon. Perhaps it can even be a little overwhelming sifting through all of the different training plans that are at your disposal. One of the best ways to approach choosing a plan is to figure out if it is realistic for your lifestyle. What are current time commitments you have to devote to things outside of training itself? This includes family, work, friends, etc. Once you know what kind of weekly training time you have, you can begin to figure out which training plans will work with your schedule.
At this point, it is good to research and look at the science behind a training plan, and yes there is a lot of science! Using science and your own personal data will be what customizes a training plan to your specific needs. By using testing protocols such as power testing or heart rate testing, you get a picture of where your fitness is which will help shape the training for where you want to end up. Some training plans will not involve these testing protocols in either the swim, bike or run. Without testing, you are training blindly with no reference point from where you started to what your goal is.
You are a human, not a robot, and your training should reflect that. We all want to perform well and do our best, but at the end of the day, our family and friends are what is important. Training should not sacrifice the time you spend on important commitments. The good news is that great training plans factor in all of the things that make you, you. This does not mean that you can have your cake and eat it too, there will be sacrifices made as any challenge worth taking on will require.
Where should you begin your search? The Wahoo Sports Science team has developed science-driven programs produced by world-class coaches with you in mind. Each plan is tailored to you: the athlete. Plans are based on your weekly time availability, current training, goals, and any constraints you have. All triathlon plans will include weekly swim, bike, and run workouts. These plans also offer options for both indoor and outdoor training sessions for the cycling portion. Triathlon plans will also include key sessions for any triathlete: brick workouts (training sessions that include a bike workout immediately into a run to simulate a race).
Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Give these training plans a look and then give them a try.
Mac Cassin is the Chief Cycling Physiologist at Wahoo Sports Science. He holds a degree in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado-Boulder and has won multiple National Championships. The experience of juggling athletic goals with collegiate and career responsibilities has taught Mac that peak performance is achievable even for those who cannot focus exclusively on training. While concentrating on exercise physiology in an academic setting, Mac competed at the World Championships, Pan American Championships and World Cups on both the road and track.