New to Triathlon – week 2 – It’s all about the base…

Right now your training should be about building a good solid foundation of aerobic base fitness. Once that’s in place you can add speed, pace and race-specific training. 

This doesn’t mean that you can’t include some speed work, just don’t make it your main focus.  Many athletes follow the 80/20 rule of 80% steady aerobic training and 20% more intense training (anaerobic/speed/power) and that’s a good guide for structuring your training, although be aware that everyone is different so adjust those parameters to suit you.

For most triathletes swimming is their weakest discipline and so it makes sense at this point in the year to give that some real attention. Try to swim two to three times a week if you can: 1 x a long steady swim – aiming to build up to at least 1.5 x your race distance this season as a non-stop swim (so, if you’re aim is to do a 400m super sprint ensure you can swim 600m non-stop); 1 x a technique session – the club swim is perfect for this; 1 x an interval session – short swims (25m, 50m, 100m) swum at a higher speed than you would normally swim at.

For running ensure that most of your training is completed at a pace which allows you to talk and run at the same time.  For cycling, getting out for a long ride and building both distance and confidence is the aim. The Sunday group rides are perfect for this and then you can always do speed/power work on the turbo. Consider doing hill work both for run and cycle training. All you need to do is find a suitable incline and run or ride up it with as much effort as possible and coast/walk back down. Repeat this as much as your time allows. Hill efforts help build power and fitness.

Do get in a weekly strength session (even a body weight session at home is a good option) and perhaps a yoga session to ensure you’re stretching and elongating your muscles after all that training. Range of movement and mobility is essential in the swim and can really help you go from bike to run as well.

Also add in a rest day a week – this could be a steady swim day or yoga day but should not be an intense session. Every 4 or so weeks have an easy week.

If you miss a planned session – don’t worry, life happens, you’re not a pro athlete so other things do have to take priority. It’s always possible to merge two sessions together – an endurance run with some hill repeats in the middle for instance. Or just accept that you have an easier training week due to other commitments.

The best thing is to try to plan your weeks ahead, according to other life commitments. You can then plan in an easy training week, if you know you have a heavier week of family or work commitments ahead.

If you can’t find the time in any week to fit in lots of sessions, do not worry about it. You can start doing triathlon on a few sessions a week, just make sure that your expectations of what you can achieve on race day are inline with the training you can put in. We do all have tough periods where we put aside our training and lower our expectations, even the best of triathletes, so don’t stress if that’s you at the moment. When I first started triathlon I really didn’t take it very seriously and did very little training but I had a lot of fun. Enjoy this period of fun, learning and new challenges.

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