Absolute Beginners - How to Set up a Season and Year

September 9, 2016

Let's assume the sun has come down on your season even if there are September and October triathlons going on.  If you're racing have fun and make sure to get to the beer tent on time - that's your only time goal at this point.  Let's make another assumption in that you have no life and that triathlon is what determines how your season and year shape up.  We'll work real life into this once we have something laid out.  Remember, I'm writing this for triathletes in New England who, unless they get on a plane, must deal with the realities of the weather.

  • Determine what you want out of 2017.  Is this your first triathlon?  Do you have a special race in mind?  Is this your second or tenth season?  Are you using triathlon as a conditioning life style or do you miss the spirit of competition and think triathlon can satisfy your competitive streak?

Before we can continue let's talk about Dan.  Dan was a Dt triathlete we absolutely adored and not just because he had the sweetest demeanor.  He was in amazing shape and quite charismatic and rarely showed up for training because he was doing a race every weekend.  If he came to training it was because there were no races within the greater United States area that weekend.  He trained by racing which we explained was not a good thing but then we knew he was having so much fun that whatever.  Every Dt triathlete knew whatever race they picked they would have Dan there - no one raced alone.  Dan if you're reading this good luck at this weekend's race and next and next and ...

So why the story about Dan?  Well you'll see in a minute.

  • First select an "A" race in August or September.  A "B" race in late July or August.  And a "C" race in May/early June.  Why three races and why the letters?  Athletes who get a taste of a race love it and will want more rides on the rollercoaster.  The letters specify the degree to which you'll be prepared as well as the intensity you'll race - having this kind of step ladder process adds spice to the season as well as allows for you to experience periodized training with no injury (unless you get road rash.)

  • If you read the Sprints section and cheated and read the stuff for the olympics and 70.3s you know periodized and phase based training is the safest and most effective way to improve your performance and enjoyment of the sport.  The phases are BASE, BUILD, RACE, RECOVERY.

  • Let's say BASE phase or the period of time in which you (re)create your physical and skill base starts in April/May and continues into June.  Lots of strength training and swims, runs and rides at happy paces.

  • The BUILD phase or the period of time in which you extend your aerobic endurance to support your race goals would be June/July.

  • The RACE phase would be the period of time in which you're skating the edge of your abilities and sharpening physicality and confidence into attacking a sprint instead of just participating.  This would be August/September.

  • Each month in your season has an objective and each race a purpose.  Dan on the other hand starts hammering in May and goes right on hammering every weekend right through September.  This is not called starting and staying in RACE phase.  This is called IHOPEIDON'TGETINJURED Phase.

Ok, this very top level and it assumes you don't want your first race to be a 140.6 which quite a few dummies er I mean athletes decide to do.  First, don't do a 70.3 or 140.6 in your first season.  If you need a thrill go skydiving.  Second, the above plan for many successful athletes is all the planning they do!  And they have the time of their lives!  Obviously you'd need more details on exactly what to do when and for that you can go to dreamfartri.org and download your plan and have a blast.  You could also work with a coach if you plan on leaving your day job or want to be ranked high by USA Triathlon.  (Oh dear you didn't know you were ranked?  If you have a USAT membership and have done a few races guess what!?  You have a ranking.)

Now if you're a year round athlete (train for the Boston Marathon in April) or do a fall marathon or ski through the winter or play for the Bruins then you need a DETRAINING and RECOVERY phase - they're not the same thing.  Most of us mail it in October through March though and no Golf doesn't count.  Next week we'll discuss De-Training and Recovery.

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