This is the time of year where I get the random emails from triathletes in panic mode. “Coach, I’ve been running a tempo run for the last 6 weeks, but I don't seem to be getting faster. What am I doing wrong?” Or I’ll get an email like this, “Coach, I get dropped by my friends on the hills, so I am going to add in hills three days a week to help my climbing. What do you think?” Both questions are legit, but the answer is ‘It depends’. As we all know, doing the same workouts or running the same routes over and over gets boring and our bodies stop get stronger because the stress remains the same. In addition, adding too much stress too quickly when the body is not ready for it either leads to a very tired (or injured) athlete who can’t perform on race day. By following the seven steps I’ve outlined below, you should be able to solve this riddle known as triathlon training and get faster to boot. Let’s start with the basics: How do we improve at swimming, biking and running? The easy answer is that we change the stress on the body from cycle to cycle as our body adapts. This could mean adding more volume, more speed, or more strength work. In my experience, the simpler I have kept the plan, the better the result I have seen with my athletes. For example I have a first-time athlete racing Ironman Lake Placid later this year. Back in December he asked me what his ‘Build’ period would look like. I explained to him as gently as possible that he may not have a ‘Build’ period. He had to lose twenty pounds to start with (which he has) and he had to be consistent with his training week after week and month after month (he has amazed me with how consistent his training has been!). Once he lost the weight and was able to be consistent, I challenged him with volume, not intensity. I added some intensity in small doses, but not enough to blow him apart. The plan I set out for him was very basic, but most importantly, it was very effective. We built a plan, for the most part, that allowed him to swim, bike and run on the same days each week. We did move the recovery days and long workouts around depending on family commitments. The result is a finely tuned athlete ready to have a great first IMLP. The point here is that we didn’t decide to follow a certain protocol for three weeks, or two cycles, but instead we went into each period open minded and didn’t progress the program until the athlete had adapted to the previous cycle. This is what adaptation is all about – progressing the plan when the body is ready, not when the calendar says to. Many athletes either don’t have a plan or try to stick to a plan that’s unrealistic. Either way, it’s hard to get stronger and faster on a program that doesn’t allow for a natural progression. Follow these steps to get faster:
If you are tired of the same old results from the same training, it’s time to get organized and plan out your training differently than you have in the past. By following these seven rules you’ll be setting yourself up for continued improvement throughout the triathlon season.
Mike Ricci, D3 Multisport head coach and USA Triathlon Level III Certified Coach, and also a USAT Coach of the Year. Ricci selected to write the training programs for both the short and long course USA World Championship Teams from 2002-2009. D3 Multisport has a variety of services ranging from one-on-one coaching to training plans for specific events and races. Visit www.D3multisport.com more information or e-mail Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org