Work the Magic:
Work on your weakness and not your strengths. Work on your weakest discipline from the start of your training to bring it up to speed with your other skills and strengths.
There is no shortcut or magic session that will bring instant results.
Be consistent in your training, work smart and hard and you will be rewarded on race day.
Advice and guidance: Who do I ask?
Ask a coach for help if you have any questions about training, diet, racing etc. We are all happy to help with advice and any question is welcome, no matter how daft you may think it is. Ask other experienced athletes how they schedule training, races, get over injuries, what do they eat. But remember we are all different so what works for a Professional probably won’t be directly suited to you.
Be consistent in your training. Find a weekly balanced schedule that you can do week in week out that fits with your lifestyle. It is much better to do 4 weeks of 6 hours per week than to do 2 weeks of 12 hours with 2 weeks off as you are too tired from the first two weeks to do the scheduled training. It doesn't matter what other people are doing, we can only do what works for us. Some people will be doing 20 hours training for an Ironman, I hope it works for them...it didn't/doesn't for me.
Triathlon training can be a balancing act between your family, work and your own personal goals. Remember why you started off in Triathlon and work towards your goals.
Look to do 2/3 sessions of each sport per week.
No more than 3 hard or long sessions per week, less when starting off or coming back from injury.
Never put hard/long sessions back to back.
Your training needs to be structured towards your key race, there is no point doing the same thing week after week. The body requires stimulus to overload your muscles and then rest to absorb all the training you have done. It pays to get fast first and then fitter later, this applies each year and over several years.
Keep a training diary so you can monitor what you are doing. Great for motivating when you sit back and review what you have done last month/year. This will also help if you want to ask a coach for guidance.
Rest and recovery:
Have a rest day/24hrs rest every week.
Have a rest week every 3 or 4 weeks where you do less hours than you normally do. This will give your body the time to recover and this is when you absorb the training and improve fitness not when you are working hard. E.g. normal week 7 hours rest week 4 hours. Not all sessions have to be flat out, most should be at a moderate intensity or even at easy effort levels with 2-4 sessions per week at a hard effort (at the right time of year).
Keeping it fresh:
Always have the next session in mind. You should leave a session feeling you could have done a bit more and still have enough for tomorrow. Nothing worse than killing yourself on a run session and then being too tired for the week to do your swim/bike sessions.
Always listen to your body, if you are feeling pain or unwell then stop exercising immediately and consult a medical expert if symptoms persist. Prevention is better than cure and if you stop as soon as you feel pain then it should clear up quicker. Running invariably brings sore and tired muscles and these should recover after 24 hours or slightly longer if it was a particularly hard session for you.
Nutrition, Diet and Fuelling:
Try to follow a healthily diet and eat an easily digestible Carbohydrate rich meal about 2-3 hours before a session. Eating a banana 30-60mins before the session can help boost your energy levels. Running causes the most problems with digestion and you may need to alter your diet or meal timings to reduce any digestion issues. For sessions up to 1 hour we recommend using an Isotonic drink such as SIS Go or High 5 XXX . For longer sessions use a energy drink such as SIS PSP22 or High 5 4:1 or alternatively use water and gels. There are many companies offering isotonic/energy drinks and it is worth trying a few flavours and brands to find the one that suits you best. After a session, finish your energy drinks and then try to eat within 30-60mins of the session as this will help your body recover quickest. Keep drinking water/squash to rehydrate.
Body weight has a huge impact on running and injury prevention. If you are carrying excess weight then it will pay to improve your body composition through improved diet and nutrition choices. Higher BMI scores over 24 are a good general indicator to lose weight. Please see a nutritionist and seek dietary advice if you go down this route otherwise be sensible and swap processed convenience food or sugary foods for fruit and raw food. Ask yourself if you need that bag of crisps or chocolate bar...
Short term goals:
Your key race could be next July. That's a long time to focus on one goal. Look to get quicker and do some local running races in the next 3 months, build towards and beat your 5K/10K pb, beat your 400m/1500m swim time, Ride MTB (races) in winter, bike sportives or Time trials or aim to do 50mile ride by 2 months time. Winter race goals can be a run race or some of the duathlons (On or Off road).There are loads of small goals to work towards that can complement your overall goal. If you need any help choosing suitable races, then ask a coach.
Choosing Your Race(s)
If you have chosen one race next year or trying to find a suitable one for your first time, then it is worth asking others for recommendations. It pays to do a couple of low key early season races to dust of those cobwebs and iron out any problems with kit. Even if you are aiming at an Ironman, it still pays to have a couple of Tri’s under your belt early in the year. A Half Ironman about 6 weeks before an Ironman would be a great opportunity to try out your training and move into the last phase for your big race. Sprints can be done 3-4 weeks before your Olympic races to iron out any potential issues and get you into race mode. Cycling Timetrials and short run races can also be used to fine tune your effort levels but be aware that these have different requirements than your triathlon.
Injuries or holidays:
You will probably find there are sessions you miss and it is best to pick up the next session, never try to regain the lost sessions by cramming them in later on, this always leads to problems. There will be days when you know you can't exercise on Thursday for example so use this as a rest day and try to fit in your scheduled session on your normal rest day. If you do get injured or ill and find you miss a week or more, go back to the last sessions you did and start from there.
This is the best time to work on your technique, strength and conditioning work. Work with short frequent sessions to avoid getting stale, keep things interesting. Swimming doesn't have to be about getting in the pool to do 15*100m with 15s rest, use sessions to develop your feel for the water, slow down and use different strokes. Work on being more efficient in the water developing a longer more powerful stroke. Improve your breathing position and hand entry to be more streamlined.
Biking gets more difficult outdoors so use a turbo trainer and consider using a mountain bike for some strength sessions when the weather is really bad. It is best to keep sessions shorter to keep things interesting and keep warm, no need for 3-4 hour bikes if you are doing Olympic or sprint Triathlons. A two hour session mixing in 3*10mins at high cadence (100-110) building to 3*20+mins on the flat keeps you warm and develops your pedal stroke. Combine this with one or two turbo sessions each week for best results. Consider starting a yoga or Pilates class to work on your flexibility and core strength.
A lot of people can suffer from tiredness with the low light levels and a sun lamp or even a run/walk outdoors during lunch can be enough to keep your sun levels up. Colds and sickness are key considerations during this time and be careful if you do catch a cold as it is better to miss one or two sessions with a cold than push through and miss a few weeks as you got too run down.
Consider your body composition winter will be the best time to start losing weight if required but check with an (medical) expert first if starting on such a program.
Club Sessions: Where do the club sessions fit in with my schedule?
All club sessions are structured over a year to build fitness for the race season and then allowing time to recover during the autumn period with lower intensity technique based skills.
If you are time limited and can only commit to one or two club sessions per week, the coached swim sessions probably offers you the best value for your time as the swim is best done in a coached environment as you are given immediate feedback to improve your swim efficiency. The coaches offer technique tips where appropriate and you will be pushed harder by the people around you than if you swim alone. Second to a club swim session for coached work is the club turbo session as this offers you a rigid framework building up to peak fitness for the race season.
There is no official Club run session due to resourcing requirements but there is a jointly run session with Stragglers on Tuesday evenings suited for runners with at least 4+ months of consistent running with no injury issues as it is intervals /hill session.
Commuting to Work:
Many of us have the opportunity to bike to work, how do we fit this into a triathlon schedule?
Commuting is a very time and cost efficient way of getting a bike workout but for all except the very fittest, commuting takes a lot out of you and leaves you low on energy for the key weekly sessions.
Try to have at least one rest day off commuting each week.
Use the ride to work as an easy ride in the mornings and most evenings. Try not to race!
On the two scheduled bike days, you could add an extra loop in the evening and/or do some harder intervals if you are not doing the Turbo sessions .
Leave yourself enough energy and motivation to go out for the run or swim. Keep an eye on your nutrition, body weight and energy levels. Eat properly to fuel the engine.
As none of us have the same time constraints or work schedules, here is a suggested plan using the club sessions each week. You will probably need to make changes to make the schedule work for you and if you have any questions on how best to do this please ask a Coach. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you do join a run/swim club, don't be telling them you are taking this session easy as you did a bike/swim earlier or that you are saving yourself for tomorrow.
Always try to be positive and have fun but work hard too.
Talk to the other athletes in the club everyone is very friendly and happy to help or just chat.
We have a social on the first Friday of the month, great time to meet up with club members and talk tri stuff.
All this training and you can forget about your family/friends, give them a treat to say thanks for supporting you.
Always have a break at the end of each season. 2 weeks is enough to recharge the batteries.
Think about going on a training camp/weekend abroad, great fun and you learn a lot. ask some others they may go as well...
If you have 10-20mins and still thinking whether it is worth going out a doing a run, just do it..it all counts and it gets easier each time.
Make your training routine work for you, not the other way round.
Don't be too strict on yourself. Think of rewards for special training to help motivate you on those dark days in winter e.g. Hot chocolate or piece of chocolate if you go for a 30+min run in the rain.
These schedules can start any time of year but to tie into the race season in June-Aug, you are recommended to start preparing in November. The 20 week schedule will take you through to middle of March and then the weather should be suitable to start longer bike rides and more outdoor training as the daylight increases.