— by Jasper Blake
If you want to set yourself up for the best possible season, keep it simple. A deliberate, focused and consistent approach that starts with the end in mind is the most effective path. Here are ten tips to help you nail your upcoming season.
Start with the end
Starting with the end in mind allows you to clearly identify what your main objective is and makes it easier to piece together what the months leading up to that race should look like. Starting with your destination allows you to create the roadmap that will get you there.
Train in phases
When you start with the end in mind, it allows you to break your year up into manageable chunks of time or different phases. Rather than doing the same thing over and over again for twelve months, you can apply different training stress loads at different times of the year. If you are a year out from that goal race, you may want to spend time addressing some of your weaknesses.
Compete with your weakness and fin tune your strengths
Triathlon is unique in that there are three sports you need to work on. One of the best ways to work on a weakness is to start competing in that sport specifically. Racing will bring out the best in you and nudge your body up to a new level. You will also learn from athletes who specialize in those sports. Being immersed in their culture for a bit will make you a better triathlete.
Related: Five tips to become a better swimmer
Addressing your weaknesses is important, but equally so is learning to capitalize on your strengths. Success in triathlon is often as much about maximizing your strengths as it is about limiting the damage on your weaker legs.
Training is fairly simple. Apply appropriate training stress loads, recover and then do it again and again and again. A progressive approach is the best way to do this. Being progressive means incorporating small increases in training stress over time, either through volume or specific intensities.
Get some numbers – Train on target
Investing in some physiological testing is one of the most valuable things you can do to help you train with more specificity. Knowing your threshold values and understanding how to apply appropriate training stress in and around those values will help you be more deliberate and on target.
Related: Should Triathletes take an FTP Test?
Small rest periods can happen on a weekly basis by simply inserting an off day into your program, or they can be multi-day blocks throughout the year. These breaks don’t have to be long – 24 to 72 hours is enough to help you recharge mentally, physically and emotionally. The recharge will often lead to big fitness and motivation gains upon return.
Training camps are an incredibly effective way to give your fitness a boost. Camps allow you to take a break from life’s usual distractions and focus entirely on training and recovery for a few days. Camps can happen at any time during the year and are ideally in the four- to 10-day range.
Related: Winter Getaways for 2019
Be consistent rather than epic
Consistently executing workouts on a daily basis might be the single most important thing you can do to nail your upcoming season, even if those workouts don’t fall into the epic category.
Race short and frequently
Triathlon has evolved in the last two decades. With the growth of the Ironman brand has come an ever-increasing desire for athletes to complete longer events. The trouble with long events is that it’s hard to do them with a high degree of frequency. Athletes often forget that there is an abundance of grassroots, short-course races to be had. Even sprint-distance racing will improve your long game. Furthermore, they are easy to recover from, which makes it possible to back up multiple race weekends without much risk.
Plan to peak
It’s not possible nor is it wise to peak and taper for multiple events in the year. Some races you will need to train through in order to maximize your chances of success at your key event. Identifying which race you plan to peak for reinforces the importance of goal setting and starting with the end in mind.
There is no magic bullet for success. Keep it simple and stick to some basic principles.
Jasper Blake is a former Ironman Canada champion and the head coach of B78 Coaching.