So, from the heading you can probably guess this post will be about how I structure training, eat, race, and relax.
Well, my training is based around my school and work schedule. This is very similar to many other people that may have families and other priorities. I break up my winter/spring training into a periodization format. This means that each 4-6 week block of training will have a different focus. Right now I’m focusing on strength, mobility, and run fitness. This will include lifting 2-3 days a week, threshold run intervals 2 days a week, yoga 1-2 days a week, swim drills 2 days a week, core/stability work 2 days a week, physical therapy every other week, and indoor/outdoor recovery rides. This might seem like a lot, but if scheduled correctly, you can get at least one day complete rest and a recovery day. Most days I am working out twice at least 3 hrs apart. It’s important to know how well your body recovers and when your body is ready to workout in the day. Sometimes I’m ready to go early in the morning and other days I’m not good to go until the afternoon. Everybody and every day is different, so just feel it out. (If you miss a workout or just aren’t feeling it, let it go.) What’s nice about periodization is that since it’s winter, I can do most of my workouts indoors.
The next training block I have will focus on building base. The weather should lighten up a bit, so I can get outside more often. Since I compete in shorter distance races like Sprint and Olympic triathlons and 5k’s, I can work on my volume in all three disciplines at the same time. The longer the race, the more time you need to spend on each discipline separately or you can easily burn yourself out before your first race. I will mix in tempo/speed work at the same time with some continuing weight training. The idea is to keep body mass stable without taking away from the volume of work.
My last period will be mostly speed work and fine tuning before race season starts. This will include brick workouts and specializing in specific distances/intensities. This will also include a lot of mental exercise and race specific work to keep focus. Many athletes forget the concentration necessary for simple things such as where you parked your bike, or how to change in and out of clothing quickly. I will compete in short distance runs and triathlons to assess my fitness in the middle of this period to help dial in my training, racing, and nutrition.
As you can see, my training blocks follow a simple progression of technique, power, distance, and then speed. You may need to change this around a bit, but whatever you do, stick to your plan. Sometime during the training season I’ll get a run gait analysis, swim stroke analysis, VO2 testing, and training plans developed from them by my coach/doctor. I’ll also throw in some massage and physical therapy work depending on how my body is feeling. At some point towards the end of my training season I will get tested again by my coach to see how my fitness has improved and get refit if necessary.
I enter about 8-10 races a year. This will include some training races as well. When setting up your race calendar, it is very important to grade your races (A,B,C and D) based on how your feeling, cost, calendar, what your goal for the year is, and what time of year it is. My goals this year are focused on competing in an Olympic Distance race and not just doing one, so my Olympic distance race this year is my A race. That will be the Escape the Cape triathlon in Cape May, NJ on June 2nd. I will have 2 “super sprint” races before then. The first will be April 28th at Riverwinds in Deptford, NJ and the second will be the Haddon Twp Super Sprint on May 26th. Riverwinds will be a B race because I won my age group last year and placed top 10. It was my qualifier for Nationals last year. The Haddon Twp. race is one week before my A race, so it will be a D race/workout. It’s very short, so i can use it to build speed before Cape May. I might do the Vincentown tri on July 2nd, NJ State Tri July both, or the Presidential Lakes tri on August 11th. I will definitely be competing in the Wildwood tri relay with my brother and father again on August 18th. Hopefully we can place better than last year. Once I figure out the end of my season, one of these may also become an A race. I will not compete in the Philly Tri this year mostly because of money, but I also want to change it up a little.
I will run the Haddonfield 5K, SPCA River Run 5K (with either Stig again or Arya), and maybe a run in the summer. I hope to finally signup for some type of obstacle run this year. I have student teaching in the Fall, so I will end my season in August.
My daily routine will pretty much stay the same. I wake up to my Phillips Daylight alarm clock, 15mins stretch/quick yoga, check HRV (Heart Rate Variability) breakfast and supplements, and then go about my day. I will keep an eye on my food intake. I try to stay as natural and “healthy” as possible, but I will cheat when I want. Once I’m in for the night, I’ll have a drink or two (get yourself some good microbrew and red wine/port), little bite to eat, a few sprays of magnesium oil on sore muscles, and then set my white noise/isochromatic beat app. Repeat. Keep your routines simple, but also focus on sticking with it just like your training.
Triathletes are a very special breed of “Type A” personalities because of how much structure there needs to be to fit everything in, but this can also have a very negative impact of over training. That is why I measure my HRV every morning. If it’s over 90 and my stress is low, I’ll workout. If not, I’ll skip training until I get myself back in order. This may be a day or a week, but you cannot be afraid to take this time off or you will do more harm than good. Your body and mind need rest and recovery to perform your best. Try setting a non-athletic goal to keep to give yourself that time. It could be to read a certain book or learn a new skill. Whatever it is, make it low stress.
That’s just a little about how I go through my year of being a triathlete. No matter what your sport, you might be able to use what I have laid out here to increase your abilities. I just hope I can help.