How to Build the Most Effective Triathlon Race Schedule

Being free creatures in a world governed by laws, we have the ability to partake in ambitious activities one might only classify as nonsensical. Or to be stated more bluntly—stupid.

You might have started triathlon last week and quite possibly decided next month is the time to finish an Ironman. I might also decide next week that I’m going to race a rainbow on my skateboard. These are both things we can certainly attempt, but are they sensible plans of action?

A triathlon race schedule, to be effective, must coincide sensibly with the laws of nature. It’s not a matter of what’s possible, but what has the highest probability of being “worth it.” And yet, well, I suppose it is a matter of what’s possible too.

To build the most effective triathlon race schedule, we need to consider a number of ideas:

  1. Feasibility
  2. Maximized Training Cycles
  3. Reduced Probability of Injury
  4. Experiential Advantage

1. Feasibility

Feasibility simply refers to how realistic your triathlon goal is. As alluded to in my introduction, it’s probably foolish to go for a full Ironman triathlon one month into beginning the sport. Even if it is theoretically possible for you to finish the distance, is this schedule effective or even worth the potential loss you’d be facing?

Feasibility is determined by your experience in the triathlon race disciplines—your “sport age,” your current fitness and overall health, and your current longest sessions. These factors tell us whether the distance desired and the timing of the event is allowable in terms of being capable of effectively prepping for. If the factors tell us that your selected race is not feasible, you could be looking at a DNF or, even worse, an injury.

2. Maximized Training Cycles

The structure of an effective triathlon race schedule should be designed around maximized training cycles. A training cycle is like a growing wave. It builds to a crest, dips down for a short amount of time, and then builds again even higher. The wave continues along, growing to higher crests after each dip until finally reaching its momentous peak.

Your stamina training should follow the same pattern, especially in preparation for long course triathlon. Each week builds slowly in increasing long sessions and other focused stamina workouts. At the end of each cycle, you take a “down week” to recover from the increased workload that your body has been unaccustomed to. The next cycle builds from “higher ground” and climbs even more. The final “dip” is your taper time, allowing you to recover one last time before peaking at your A race.

3. Recovery Time and Reducing Injury

Maximized training cycles depend on smart race selection. You need to give yourself the time and space to allow for the right amount of “wavy” cycles. This goes hand in hand with reducing your chances of injury. Without taking the proper time for acquiring the needed fitness or the time for recovery cycles, you’ll be pushing a workload on your body that it isn’t ready for. This stress is a shock to the system and the result is often injury.

Remember when I said jumping into a triathlon distance you’re not ready for isn’t worth the potential loss? The loss I’m speaking of is burnout and injury. The same situation is possible when your schedule isn’t disciplined for recovery. You need those “valleys” in your training schedule to be intelligently placed and optimized.

4. Experiential Advantage

A smart plan and the optimized time for training doesn’t mean you can’t compete at some time in between the beginning of your season and your climactic A race. In fact, B and C races are great ways to garner racing experience before your season ending finale.

Triathlon is a learning experience. You will undoubtedly make a lot of mistakes in the process of learning how to effectively race. Making these mistakes in less important races is a valuable training tool.

Not only will you want to add B and C races to your schedule just for the sake of triathlon experience, but you can also strategically choose courses and venues that will best equip you for your A race. For example, if you know your big A race is going to be flat and hot, it’s best to choose at least one B or C race midseason with similar traits. This allows you to learn what to expect and how to adapt when the big day comes along.

What’s exciting about the technology behind the TriDot Training System is that everything we’ve discussed is handled for you in the Season Planner feature. TriDot evaluates feasibility for you, informing you which races are timely, not optimal, or not even possible under your given fitness.

Effective training cycles and recovery time is essential to the training plans that are generated based off of your unique data. And with a coach, you can work together to decide what intermediary races best fit your schedule and your end goal.

With TriDot, it’s simple. Choose your race and let all the hard work of triathlon race schedule building being done for you.


TRIDOT TAKEAWAY:

Building your most effective triathlon race schedule relies on your ability to consider race feasibility, maximize training and recovery cycles, and experiment with intermediary races.


TALK WITH TRIDOT:

How do you construct your triathlon race schedule? Do you employ the ideas discussed here? What else do you consider before planning your season?


JARED MILAM is a professional triathlete, TriDot coach, and member of the Tri4Him Pro Team. He has 16 years of competitive running experience and 11 years of competitive triathlon experience with a half Iron PR of 3:59 and a full Iron PR of 8:30. Coaching under the TriDot system since 2011, Jared loves working with aspiring triathletes of all ages and performance levels.

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