Can you believe that it is almost the end of the year? It has certainly been a challenging year for so many people – and I for one am looking forward to 2018! PLUS – I just made my list of races I want to do in 2018. Have you made your race list yet? Maybe it is just one race for you …. Or like me a few races …. But I know for me that having something to train for makes me more focused.
If you are ready to be more focused in 2018 – here are a few of my suggestions:
Pick a Race
The first step is signing up for a race – sounds pretty simple, right? The amount of time you have until race day and the length of the race will determine what your training schedule looks like. If you’re a new triathlete your goal is likely going to be around building a foundation and crossing the finish line (hopefully still smiling) on race day! (And, I wrote a series of blog posts you can find here if 2018 will be your first triathlon!) If you’re a seasoned triathlete, your goal might be to set a new PR on a familiar course, or avoid the nagging injury that’s popped up the last 2 times you’ve trained for a race. Whatever your goal, make sure you have a minimum of 8 weeks before race day.
Mark Your Calendar
I always go old school and print out a blank calendar. Mark first the day of the race (or races) and then count backwards until the current day. Ideally you’ll have 8 weeks between then and race day. If you aren’t racing for a few months continue to work on your base fitness so the training schedule doesn’t look so daunting.
As a rule your weekly mileage should increase by approximately 10% per week. Don’t try and increase any more than that. You want to make sure that your body is easing into increased mileage. Believe me – don’t try and increase too quickly!
Mix It Up
Don’t let every workout be long and steady. Make sure you have a day at tempo pace (or race pace), speed work, and hills (although – no hills when you swim!). Mixing it up helps to build stronger, more efficient muscles that will serve you well on race day. It also helps to stave off boredom!
Rest! Rest! Rest!
Rest days are key to healthy training and help prevent over-training and burnout. Ideally, keep your rest days consistent to the same day per week. Depending on workout experience you should have 1 to 2 complete rest days per week built into your schedule.
To avoid overtraining, injury and burnout, it’s suggested every 3rd week of your training be a built-in recovery week. On this week your mileage should be significantly cut back. This week will allow you to recharge and repair so that you can go back out the following week and work harder and smarter.
Do something different than swimming, biking and running to build different muscle groups. Strength training and yoga and ideal – but really anything that will use your muscles in different ways.
Anticipate the Taper
An essential component to your training is cutting back at the end. Depending on how long your training plan is you’ll likely be tapering for 1 to 2 weeks. While every training plan is different the main theme should be the same: exercise less, rest more. By sticking to easy workouts and rest you’ll allow your body to replenish and repair before race day.
Plan For Conflicts
Finally, remember that life’s not perfect. And sometimes life gets in the way of training. Sick days, life and weather can all interfere with our schedule and while it’s important to try and stay as regimented as possible with the plan, being able to acknowledge and accommodate is just as key. If you keep your key workouts (speed, tempo, long run) somewhere in the week, you’ll be just fine. Remember, no one ever got a DNF (did not finish) on a race because they swapped the day of their long run and rest day!
Move your body, put good things in and ENJOY every day!