Originally when I wrote this article it was going to be called “5 Easy ways to upgrade your training plan”. Of course we nearly missed 1 critical upgrade for a huge number of athletes
1. Have a Plan
Most Triathletes will have at some point followed a training plan. The plan likely followed the age old formula of picking out your A race of the season and worked back from the race date through a taper period, a peaking phase, a build phase and back to the start of the season with base training. This format has been around largely since Joe Friel popularised it with his work in the Triathletes Training Bible and is the stock format of most training plans.
Its great on the assumption your training for 1 or 2 big races throughout a whole season and was developed based on high level athletes. But what if you don’t have one big A race which is your sole focus or you’re looking for a more consistent performance over a number of races. Perhaps you finished the plan and then just sort of carried on training.
For great results you need a new plan and in an ideal world it should map out your next 6 months of training working on progressively improving your fitness. Perhaps for now we could start by properly planning our next week.
- First work out how much training you can complete in the week based on what’s both realistic and hopefully a small increase on the prior week.
- Now assign 80% of your workouts in each discipline as easy Z2 and preferably below your MAF Heart Rate.
- Now take the other 20% of your training time and assign to focussed sessions covering either Tempo, Speedwork or Hills (bike & run only) depending on what is your current weakness/goal.
2. Use Metrics & set session goals
Metrics are the numbers behind your performance in training and racing, how fast did you go, how far, what was your average heart rate. Chances are you’re already collecting metrics in some form, but if not they can bring one of the biggest benefits to your training in actually showing you how your training is progressing.
We don’t want to get too bogged down by the numbers as its easy to become obsessed but equally they can quickly show us how we performed against the goals of a session. Which brings us to the next point set session goals and be specific.
When performing a zone 2 or MAF base building session set a ceiling heart rate and stick to it. At the end of the session you can quickly gauge the success of the workout using your data upload. Did we keep our heart rate in zone 2 or did we start creeping up into zone 3? How fast was that interval? All questions solved using metrics.
- Based on your training plan set individual goals each session in your plan.
- The goal can be as simple as run 13mi’s in z2 or as complicated as descending intervals but be specific.
- When you finish the workout check how you performed against your session goals
- Tools such as Strava/Training Peaks etc can make this process very easy.
3. Plan to move more
Chances are you’re like 80% of the population who now spend most their day chained to a desk. This is bad for your body in a number of ways and the health benefits of avoiding spending long periods of time sat in a chair are huge.
Try to get up and move around every 30 minutes to avoid most the problems or look to turbo charge your health by involving some form of active work in your day. If your company is flexible on where you work try cafe hopping every hour so you get a chance to move around and switch venue. If not try simple things like going for a walk at lunch.
Or why not get revolutionary and use a walking/treadmill desk, this way you can simultaneously work and build up a load of time in zone 1.
- We wrote this blog whilst sat on the turbo, easy tasks can be performed sat up on an iPad or by placing your laptop on a sand. You might want to play with the seat angle…..
4. Balance your workload
Balance easy and hard efforts by adjusting your workout schedule based on the principles of 80/20.
The concept is simple, you can’t go hard all the time without overtraining. In fact you can’t realistically go hard or flat out more than 20% of the time. Unfortunately many athletes fall into the tempo trap working somewhat hard all the time.
Try taking it easier during your long workouts so you’ll have more energy for the short hard stuff getting the greatest benefit from both forms of training.
- For more information check out our previous blog article on prioritisation and the 80/20 principle.
5. Take a holistic approach.
Your race results are determined by how well you’ve trained and in what condition you make it to the start line. Many a good athlete has been derailed by sickness and injury due to over training.
Moderating your efforts is one key factor but try thinking about your health as the other big factor in your training. Sleep, stress, nutrition, hydration, negative or positive habits all play into how your body forms and taking a holistic approach where you consider your health as a whole can have a big impact on your training.
A holistic approach to maintaining a healthy body and mind means more consistent training and in turn more consistent race results.
- Start with your diet and nutrition, focus on incorporating whole foods and nutrient dense foods cutting out processed foods in exchange.
- Focus on getting enough sleep and recovery post workout
- Incorporate a daily stretching and strengthening routine