By Peter Lloyd
Make An Easy Training Plan For The Next Triathlon Season!
As we approach the end of the year, most athletes have finished their season and are having downtime before starting training for the year ahead, while others still have some races to complete. It's hard to believe that we were only allowed back in the pools in late spring, so we have come a long way in just a few months.
With the 2021 season almost complete, now is the time to get some of the jobs around the house and garden done whilst still having one eye on the 2022 season!
Here are 8 tips to think of to prepare for a strong 2022 race season.
1. First And Foremost, Don't Overdo It...
At this time of year, the idea is to enjoy yourself. Train if you can... but never put off time for family and friends for training. Remember, they are the ones that put up with absences when you do the long rides in the summer. They are the ones who may miss out on summer parties because you are training and racing, and they are the ones that stand around watching you compete for anything up to 16 hours!!! Now is the time to chill and spend time with them! (If they are in your bubble!)
With the motto of "Everything in moderation, including excess", please take it easy after a big night (at home!). Your body will have enough to deal with processing all the extra food and alcohol. Keep the extra stress to a minimum and remember the most effective way to burn fat is to work at around 65-75% of max aerobic heart rate. Going hard to burn it off won't help at all!
If the opportunity arises to get out on the bike, take it to boost Vitamin D and get some fresh air.
2. A Triathlon Training Routine That Will Work For You
Without fail, the most consistent athletes are the most successful, with success being measured by results and, more importantly, by the way they enjoy the whole triathlon journey. Over the winter, you should create a consistent routine that you can build for the new year.
You could be looking at 2-3 sessions of each discipline each week. These do not need to be long sessions. Those come in the new year, though this doesn't stop you from going out for a long leisurely ride if you feel like it! There should still be some hard work, add in strength sessions and try to rehab any niggles you may have picked up during the season.
Building the base fitness is important, but developing a routine and not going stale until the new year is more critical. So once you've had your couple of weeks of active rest, look at working out a routine that you can stick to. Obviously, shift workers just have to slot the training in as and when work allows. For everyone else, remember to fit in regular recovery/adaptation weeks.
It is also vital to develop good sleep and rest patterns. I know this is easier said than done, but not checking emails before bedtime, no coffee in the afternoon and trying to do your training sessions earlier in the day, especially the hard ones, all help you sleep better. It's something to think about!
3. Zwift Training Courses and Base Rides
If you have a smart trainer and Zwift, working your way through the list of courses is ideal for adding variety to your training. Very often, I am asked for sessions if the weather is too wet to go out on the road, but just selecting a route on Zwift or even completing an Event allows you to get the work done. Be careful with what you select, as you don't want to end up racing every time you get on the turbo. I'd say last winter, over 90% of my bike training was through free rides on Zwift. Pace partner rides are excellent, and if you have a hill set to do, using long mountain slopes and the U-turn button gets the work done!
However, while it is worth recognising how great Zwift is for indoor training at this time of year, there are other apps available. So have a look at what's around, and decide for yourself what courses or programmes are best for you!
4. Bike Fit/Swim Stroke Analysis
Now is the time to book a bike fit. Having a bike fit allows you to maximise your performance and fulfil your potential specific to your race distance. Even if you've had a bike fit before, having another one could find a few more watts, and if you've not had one at all, you'll be amazed at how much of a difference a professional bike fit can make. Some people spend £100 - £200 on a pair of sunglasses for no performance gains yet are reluctant to spend it on a bike fit where there can be massive improvements!!
But remember, make sure the bike fitter knows you are a triathlete, because as top fitter Ivan O'Gorman says, "There's no point having a huge bike leg PB and then running like a donkey!". If you're not working with a coach or a club, now is an ideal time to have your swim stroke analysed by a specialist to work on improving your swim.
5. Triathlon Training Camps are for Everyone!
Warm weather training camps are ideal for giving your training a real boost early in the new year. You can get quality sessions in with lots of rest and plenty of good food too!! Some camps even offer an end of camp race to finish the week in style!
If you cannot travel, why not try a virtual training camp/overload block if you are on holiday for a week, especially as you can get in the pool this year! This method worked well last year for many of my athletes. They clocked up the hours on Zwift and ran on the local roads accumulating a very similar training effect to regular camp. My athletes found this really useful, but remember, the week after this, your training needs to be really easy, with lots of rest to allow the body to absorb the training.
6. Hydration, Nutrition and Blood Profiling
Many athletes underestimate their fluid and hydration needs. Now is an excellent time to look into needs and what products will be used at your main races. Many of the top brands now produce gels and drinks that are much more palatable and easy to use. It is worth trying out the products you will use at your "A" race to see how you get on with them. Likewise, you need to formulate a plan using products that you can easily digest. Try out a few brands and see which ones work best. In addition, you could take a sweat test to see how much fluid you actually need each hour.
Something else you could consider is to have a blood profiling test to check if you could address any deficiencies over the winter with supplements or diet changes.
7. Triathlon Gear
Don't leave it too late!!
Tyres, wheels, components and some tri bars are all in short supply, so plan ahead rather than leave it to just before the race season. I know of certain bike parts where the expected delivery is well into mid-2022 or even 2023. If you need something, I strongly recommend buying it now or at least putting the order in with your local bike shop.
Another tip is to have a stock of spare batteries for your heart rate monitor belt and, if possible, a spare belt. Stocking up on your favourite trainers and goggles in the winter sales or when new colours are launched is a good idea - there are bargains to be had. Check out the massive bargains in the Neuff Red sale!
8. Book Races Early and Plan your End Of Season
Athletes are very good at booking in their "A" races well in advance, but they often tend to be a bit slower booking in their build-up races. With many events having lower numbers available due to deferrals, you must look to book your support races as early as you can to avoid disappointment.
Something else that I see most years is athletes who race well in the summer and then look to add an extra race in the UK during the autumn. Please be careful with this approach, as enthusiasm tends to take a huge dip with the shorter days, and the extra race becomes a massive chore!
Instead, I recommend looking to finish your season by combining it with a holiday somewhere warm and sunny - there are lots out there! If you are taking your bike on a flight anywhere, get it booked early. Likewise, if you need to hire a bike or bike box, book those early too.
Hopefully, you will find something here that you can use to help you prepare efficiently for a successful 2022. Remember, triathlon is a brilliant sport that allows you to meet some wonderful people and travel to places you may never have visited. Don't make it too complicated. Just go out there and enjoy yourself!!!
About Peter Lloyd
A well known figure amongst the South Wales triathlon community, Peter Lloyd toed the start line of his first ever triathlon just 6 weeks after thinking "I'd love to do a triathlon but I can't swim very well".
By 2017, he was finishing in the top 10 for middle distance and qualified for the inaugural Challenge World Champs.
Now a respected coach, Pete focusses on enjoyment with his athletes, building a strong base endurance at his coaching, classes and Lanzarote training camps.