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Building a Focus Session into your Training

Rejuvenate, and gain fitness for the 2013 season.

As the 2012 triathlon season is coming to an end it’s time to take a break for some well deserved recovery time but also to reflect on your year.  Did you successfully meet the goals you had set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Maybe meeting these has given you bigger aspirations for next year? Whether it is qualifying for a big race or finishing your first Ironman it’s important to look back and think about what you could have done and in turn what you did do to make these goals a reality.

The first thing that needs to be assessed when setting up a game plan for next season is to identify your weakest links. You and your coach should go over your races and key training sessions to see if there are some areas for improvement. Were you strong on the hills and weak on the flats in the bike and/or run?  Did you fade near the end of the swim? Or potentially was one of the three disciplines of triathlon just slower for you in general because you haven’t spent as much time at it as the other two? Fall is a great time of year to build a specific focus session into your training schedule. You’ve had some recovery and there is a good block of time without interruptions of racing and recovering to really build on one of the three sports in order to really up your game for next season.

Let’s say you want to work on your riding and specifically building strength for hill climbing. Your coach may set out one or two build sessions of your training which could be between 4-6 weeks in order to schedule in a comprehensive focus session on your bike. This may be building in 4-5 sessions on the bike a week with distinct workouts to focus on building strength while still staying in touch with a few quality workouts for the swim and run. A sample week may look like this:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Swim Day off Quality swim workout like a pace or strength


Bike Day off Strength (trainer)


WU: 10-15 min easy spin

– 5 X (30s LL, 30s Both, 30s RL, 30s Both)

– Spin up by 30s: 2x (90RPM/100/110/120)

MS: 3 x (6min BG (Big Gear at 50-60RPM) Zone 2/3 w/ 4min Recovery (R) easy spin at 90RPM)

CD: 10 min easy spin

Cadence/drill (1:15:00)

WU – 10 to 15 min easy spin;

– 5 X (30s LL, 30s Both, 30s RL, 30s Both)

– 3 min R

– 10 x 15s CD (High cadence at 110 RPM+) with 45s R)

– 2 min Z-1 R

MS – 2x (10x30s at 110RPM / 30s R easy spin) 5 min R easy spin between sets

No bike, day off legs Recovery spin


All easy, focus on cadence between 90-100 rpm and good form.

Hill repeats


WU: 15-20 min easy spin.

MS: Find a hill with about a 4-5 min steady climb.  Complete 5-6 repeats staying seated and try to maintain pace.

CD: to 90 min.

Base Ride


Flatter if outside

Z (Zone) -2 Heart Rate

Run Day off Later in the day

After a 15 min WU,

15 min Z 3, 10 min Z 4, 10 min Z 1

It’s tough to excel at all three sports in triathlon all year round both mentally and physically. This is why it’s smart to break down the year and at the appropriate times to build in a focus session. The gains you will make on the focus sport will far outweigh any losses (if any) that you may have from the short amount of time you are taking a break from the other two sports. This focus will be good for your fitness, give you some rejuvenation when you see improvement, and most importantly have you racing faster next season.

LifeSport triathlon coach Jessica Adam has been a coach in Victoria, Vancouver and now resides in the Toronto area. She loves to share her years of experience with beginner triathletes and also experienced triathletes that are trying new distances like ½ IM or IM for the first time. She coaches athletes online all across the country. If you are interested in working with Jess, write Jess@LifeSportCoaching.com