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3 Tips to Plan Your Next Race Season

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As the holiday season approaches and the training year winds down, a common topic among endurance athletes is what the next year’s training and race schedule is going to look like. It's fitting that us triathletes discuss our potential schedules during the most gluttonous months of the year. Perhaps the seasonal food is our early season motivation!

When it comes to tackling next season’s triathlon training and racing objectives, unfortunately, it's not as simple as getting on a bike or mindlessly riding. Workouts need to have a purpose and the main reason for that is your racing schedule. In fact, a great deal of your season's success stems from how much thought went into its planning. So, where to begin? By taking the following suggestions into consideration, you'll be well on your way:

1. Hire a Coach
   
Hiring a coach is probably one of the best decisions you can make for your triathlon training. Working with a coach not only gives each workout a purpose, which makes for the most efficient use of your time, but also serves as a means of motivation – via accountability – and gives you a source from which to draw expertise. In the big picture, the price you pay for a coach is small compared to what you get out of the relationship (i.e. a regimented training plan to properly build your fitness and allow for adequate rest periods to avoid over-training and/or injury).

2. Race Planning

When you first begin looking at races for the following season, select the races that mean the most to you or the ones where you would want to perform at your absolute best. Those races will be your “peak” races or “A” races. Realistically, it's possible to have two or so “peaks” within a particular season. From there, schedule in lesser important events, “B” and “C” races, as preparation events to gauge your fitness progression. Depending on the distance you race, you'll likely schedule more or less events. As long as you feel rested going into your “A” races, you've struck a good balance.

3. Training

Once you are under the guidance of a coach and have a race schedule planned, the real fun begins. While you may be excited to start putting in the big miles, as your coach will tell you, now isn't the time (unless you have big races early in the season). When training resumes for the year, your workouts should be easy and kept on the shorter side. For example, base miles on the bike are better spent in the small chain ring. From there, you should slowly add more intensity and distance to your workouts. Early season training may not be the most exciting, but is extremely important for your overall race schedule and performance. Yes, you'll get fit quickly if you're training hard, but would you rather be at peak fitness in March? Or July, when most triathlon seasons are in full swing? Depending on your race distance, the real work should to be started about eight weeks out from your peak race date.