Xterra Off-Road Triathlon World-Championship Qualification Plan

author : Xterraman
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Training plan for Xterra off-road Triathlon

By Kyle Robinson
Houston, TX USA


Introduction:


Two years ago, I competed in my first Xterra off-road triathlon and to my great surprise managed to win my age division and qualify for the Xterra Off-road triathlon world championship in Maui. At the time, I wasn’t in particularly great shape. It was my first year after college and I had let myself go a bit that year. However, I had competed as a collegiate triathlete all through college and completed an iron man two years prior and a half ironman about 6 months prior to the Xterra race. My residual fitness was enough to carry me through the race and give me the win for my age division.

My girlfriend at the time also won her age division that race. We were both so happy that we had qualified for a championship race and I decided then that I would propose to her in Maui. Sadly, I was starting medical school that year, and the school would not allow me to take an absence, which would have been required to compete in the race. I proposed to my now fiançe in a slightly less romantic way, but we promised each other that we would still make it to Maui someday.

I am now two years into medical school. I spend almost all day sitting at a desk studying and I am in far worse shape than I was two years ago. However, I am still in good enough shape to go out and mountain bike 30 miles or run a 5k with some pain. I don’t promise that this training plan can elevate any couch potato to the fitness level required to qualify for a championship slot in Maui. However, I am confident that this plan can safely and without injury bring my couch potato self to a level of fitness better than I had when first managing to qualify.

I finally have a few free months, due in large part to the current COVID outbreak. My fiancé and I are both determined to use this time to make it back to Maui. I am also determined to lose the spare tire around my midsection that I have begun to build in medical school. I made this training plan for my use, but it is my hope that other out-of-shape former athletes also find it useful in their journey to becoming a champion.


The gear:


If you are using this plan to train for your first Xterra triathlon, you may be curious about what gear you will need.

Swim – If your triathlon is occurring in the spring or fall anywhere outside of the southern U.S., you will likely want to invest in a wetsuit. There are many options for used wetsuits. Overall, the swim is the shortest portion of any triathlon, so do not feel like you need to splurge on a high-end wetsuit. Aim to spend between $100 - $200. Wetsuits that cost more than $300 only offer marginal improvements in comfort and flexibility. Summer triathlons will not require a wetsuit, but absolutely do invest in a triathlon suit to wear through the swim, bike, and run. A triathlon suit will save lots of time during transitions. A $30 - $50 triathlon suit from Amazon is plenty.

Bike – I personally use a Trek top fuel 8. It is a full suspension cross country mountain bike offering 100 mm of travel in the front and rear. My first Xterra race had several aggressive rock gardens and some technical ascents and descents. I was very happy I had rear suspension available. I have read online that Xterra races tend to have relatively flat courses and that full suspension is unnecessary. My experience has been that Xterra courses can be quite rugged. In one on one tests, full-suspension bikes tend to actually be faster than hardtails. Although full suspensions are heavier than hardtails and lose some efficiency on climbs, they allow you to remain seated and pedal more efficiently. They also allow you to choose the fastest and straightest lines. The improved comfort of a full suspension and decreased need to move around on the bike helps to decrease fatigue for longer races. If you have the budget, I recommend splurging on a cross country focused full suspension bike. A hardtail will still suffice though, and many would argue with me that a hardtail is a better option for Xterra racing.

For pedals, you should use either a grippy wide platform pedal or a clip-in pedal. Clip-ins provide benefits on climbs and when accelerating. Mountain biking tends to involve significantly more acceleration than road biking and there are likely more benefits to a clip in pedal during an Xterra triathlon than during even a road triathlon. That being said, platform pedals do make it easier to run your bike over technical terrain you don’t feel comfortable pedaling through. Platform pedals can also save a lot of time in transition. In a shorter Xterra race or a sprint, platforms may actually be the better choice over clip-ins. For longer Xterra races, I recommend using clip-in (clipless) pedals.

Also, be sure to stock up on mountain bike shorts from places like amazon for training. I use $30 mountain bike shorts and they do fine. Having that padding is crucial for being able to bike multiple days each week. Things can get quite painful otherwise.

A great option for any bike adjustments, repairs, or part installations you might need is FixMyBike. Just like how you can order food to your house through DoorDash, you can order a mechanic out to your house through FixMyBike. So far in my training, I’ve had air added to my shocks, my derailleur adjusted, my handlebar positioning changed, and tubeless sealant added to my tires. All told, I spent a total of $60 for all of those services and had them done the same day. The value and convenience I get from them is very impressive.

Run – Invest in a pair of trail-running shoes. An Xterra race can be done in sneakers, but you will feel much more confident when turning and running downhill if you have a good pair of trail-running shoes. They lead to fewer rolled ankle during training as well. I use Innov-8 shoes and absolutely love them. I personally think they’re the best brand for trail shoes. You likely won’t find Innov-8’s in stores, but they can be found easily online.

For attaching your race number during the bike and run, you can invest in a dedicated triathlon belt or simply use an old shoelace. Personally, I use an old shoelace. I do not think there are many benefits to a triathlon belt over this method.


The plan:


Swim:


Owing to COVID-19, swim training will not be possible until the end of June, at which point I will likely train every day before the first race to rapidly gain water feel and improve swimming fitness. I will use a swim tether in my family’s backyard pool and aim to swim 15 minutes continuously per day, after a 5-minute warm-up which involves swimming continuously in the pool while changing up strokes however feels best.


Bike:


Biking is the most important sport to train for all types of triathlons. The most time is spent on the bike, the most distance can be gained on your opponents on the bike, and if you are not in great biking shape, the run will feel like hell. All triathletes should aim to be great cyclists before focusing their time and energy on the run. This is especially true for Xterra triathlons, because not only is cycling fitness important, mountain-bike handling skills are also crucial and take time on the bike to learn. For this reason, my training plans will focus on mountain bike-training with supplemental swimming and run training.


Run:


Owing to COVID-19 all run training will occur outdoors. Any day with good weather will be a trail running day. Days with rain or other forms of poor weather will be completed on roads and sidewalks.

I am competing in three races this season to maximize my chances of winning my age division in at least one race. The first race is quite short and will provide great preparation for the two races that follow. Early on this plan focuses on building a base and increasing easy training time, later the plan pushes you to increase effort and intensity.

You will notice that this training plan doesn’t use any fancy metrics like power, heart rate, training zones, etc…  It is my opinion that amateur triathlon training has become far too involved and complicated over the past few years. If you are a professional or have already qualified for a world championship race, then the following plan is likely too simple for you. For the rest of us, it is best not to overcomplicate things and get bogged down in the weeds. Listen to your body, take things easy at first, and once you can go the distances required in these races, begin to push yourself. “Comfortable pace” and “easy” both mean that you are holding yourself back, and that you wish you were going faster. “Moderate” means going at a speed that feels like a good workout to you. “Hard” means going at a pace that is uncomfortable, but that you know you can hold for the entire time required. Never push through pain. Pain in a joint, even on a “hard” workout means you’ve pushed yourself too far and need to dial things back or take a couple of rest days.

Current Date: May 16, 2020 


Race 1: July 11, 2020


Days until race 1 - 56 days


800m swim, 13-mile bike, 6-kilometer run


Day 1, Monday, May 18:


•    Mountain bike 40 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 2, Tuesday, May 19:


•    Mountain bike 40 minutes at a comfortable pace


•    Trail run 20 minutes at a comfortable pace 


Day 3, Wednesday, May 20:


•    Mountain bike 50 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 4, Thursday, May 21:


•    Mountain bike 50 minutes at a comfortable pace


•    Trail run 25 minutes at a comfortable pace 


Day 5, Friday, May 22:


•    Mountain bike 55 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 6, Saturday, May 23:


•    Trail run 30 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 7, Sunday, May 24:


•    Rest


Day 8, Monday, May 25:


•    Mountain bike 60 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 9, Tuesday, May 26:


•    Mountain bike 50 minutes at a comfortable pace


•    Trail run 30 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 10, Wednesday, May 27:


•    Mountain bike 65 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 11, Thursday, May 28:


•    Mountain bike 55 minutes at a comfortable pace


•    Trail run 35 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 12, Friday, May 29:


•    Mountain Bike 70 minutes at a comfortable pace


Day 13, Saturday, May 30:


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for sub 10 minute per mile pace


Day 14, Sunday, May 31:


•    Rest


Day 15, Monday, June 1:


•    Mountain bike 10 minutes hard and 60 minutes easy


Day 16, Tuesday, June 2:


•    Mountain bike 60 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 9:50 pace


Day 17, Wednesday, June 3:


•    Mountain bike 15 minutes hard and 55 minutes easy


Day 18, Thursday, June 4:


•    Mountain bike 65 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 9:40 pace


Day 19, Friday, June 5:


•    Mountain bike 20 minutes hard and 50 minutes easy


Day 20, Saturday, June 6:


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 9:30 pace


Day 21, Sunday, June 7:


•    Rest


Day 22, Monday, June 8:


•    Mountain bike 25 minutes hard and 45 minutes easy


Day 23, Tuesday, June 9:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 9:20 pace


Day 24, Wednesday, June 10:


•    Mountain bike 30 minutes hard and 40 minutes easy


Day 25, Thursday, June 11:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 9:10 pace


Day 26, Friday, June 12:


•    Mountain bike 35 minutes hard and 35 minutes easy


Day 27, Saturday, June 13:


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 9:00 pace


Day 28, Sunday, June 14:


•    Rest


Day 29, Monday, June 15:


•    Mountain bike 40 minutes hard and 30 minutes easy


Day 30, Tuesday, June 16:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 8:50 pace


Day 31, Wednesday June 17:


•    Mountain bike 45 minutes hard and 25 minutes easy


Day 32, Thursday, June 18:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 8:40 pace


Day 33, Friday, June 19:


•    Mountain bike 50 minutes hard and 20 minutes easy


Day 34, Saturday, June 20:


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 8:30 pace


Day 35, Sunday, June 21:


•    Rest


Day 36, Monday, June 22:


•    Mountain bike 55 minutes hard and 15 minutes easy


Day 37, Tuesday, June 23:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 8:20 pace


Day 38, Wednesday, June 24:


•    Mountain bike 60 minutes hard and 10 minutes easy


Day 39, Thursday, June 25:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 8:10 pac 


Day 40, Friday, June 26:


•    Mountain bike 65 minutes hard and 5 minutes easy


Day 41, Saturday, June 27:


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 8:00 pace


Day 42, Sunday, June 28:


•    Rest


Day 43, Monday, June 29:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes hard


Day 44, Tuesday, June 30:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 7:55 pace 


Day 45, Wednesday, July 1:


•    Swim 15 minutes easy


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes hard


Day 46, Thursday, July 2:


•    Swim 15 minutes easy


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 7:50 pace 


Day 47, Friday, July 3:


•    Swim 15 minutes moderate


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes hard


Day 48, Saturday, July 4:


•    Swim 15 minutes moderate


•    Trail run 35 minutes aiming for a sub 7:45 pace


Day 49, Sunday, July 5:


•    Rest


Day 50, Monday, July 6:


•    Swim 15 minutes hard


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes hard 


Day 51, Tuesday, July 7:


•    Swim 15 minutes hard


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes easy


•    Trail run 35 minutes easy


Day 52, Wednesday, July 8:


•    Swim 15 minutes moderate


•    Mountain bike 30 minutes easy


Day 53, Thursday, July 9:


•    Swim 15 minutes easy


•    Mountain bike 20 minutes easy


•    Trail run 10 minutes easy


Day 54, Friday, July 10:


•    Swim 10 minutes easy


Day 55, Saturday, July 11:


•    Race Day!


Race 2: August 8, 2020


Days until race 2 - 84 days


1500m swim, 18-mile bike, 10k run 


Day 56, Sunday, July 12:


•    Rest


Day 57, Monday, July 13:


•    Rest


Day 58, Tuesday, July 14:


•    Swim 20 minutes easy


•    Trail run 40 minutes aiming for a sub 8:10 pace 


Day 59, Wednesday, July 15:


•    Mountain bike 90 minutes easy


Day 60, Thursday, July 16:


•    Swim 30 minutes easy


•    Trail run 45 minutes aiming for a sub 8:10 pace


Day 61, Friday, July 17:


•    Mountain bike 45 minutes hard and 45 easy


Day 62, Saturday, July 18:


•    Swim 30 minutes moderate


•    Trail run 50 minutes aiming for a sub 8:10 pace


Day 63, Sunday, July 19:


•    Rest


Day 64, Monday, July 20:


•    Mountain bike 50 minutes hard and 40 easy


Day 65, Tuesday, July 21:


•    Swim 30 minutes moderate


•    Trail run 55 minutes aiming for a sub 8:10 pace 


Day 70, Wednesday, July 22:


•    Mountain bike 55 minutes hard and 35 easy


Day 71, Thursday, July 23:


•    Swim 30 minutes moderate


•    Trail run 60 minutes aiming for a sub 8:10 pace


Day 72, Friday, July 24:


•    Mountain bike 60 minutes hard and 30 minutes easy


Day 73, Saturday, July 25:


•    Swim 30 minutes hard


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 8:00 pace


Day 74, Sunday, July 26:


•    Rest


Day 75, Monday, July 27:


•    Mountain bike 65 minutes hard and 25 minutes easy


Day 76, Tuesday, July 28:


•    Swim 25 minutes moderate and 5*1 min max effort


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 7:55 pace


Day 77, Wednesday, July 29:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes hard and 20 minutes easy 


Day 78, Thursday, July 30:


•    Swim 30 minutes easy


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 7:50 pace


Day 79, Friday, July 31:


•    Mountain bike 75 minutes hard and 15 minutes easy


Day 80, Saturday, August 1:


•    Swim 30 minutes hard


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 7:45 pace


Day 81, Sunday, August 2:


•    Rest


Day 82, Monday, August 3:


•    Swim 24 minutes moderate and 6*1 min max effort


•    Mountain bike 90 minutes easy


Day 83, Tuesday, August 4:


•    Swim 30 minutes easy


•    Trail run 30 minutes easy


Day 84, Wednesday, August 5:


•    Swim 20 minutes easy


•    Mountain bike 30 minutes easy


Day 85, Thursday, August 6:


•    Swim 15 minutes easy


•    Trail run 10 minutes easy 


Day 86, Friday, August 7:


•    Swim 10 minutes easy 


Day 87, Saturday, August 8:


•    Race day!


Race 3: August 29, 2020


Days until race 3 - 105 days


1500m swim, 34k bike, 9.5k run


Day 88, Sunday, August 9:


•    Rest 


Day 89, Monday, August 10:


•    Rest


Day 90, Tuesday, August 11:


•    Swim 30 minutes easy


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 8:00 pace


Day 91, Wednesday, August 12:


•    Mountain bike 70 minutes hard and 20 minutes easy


Day 92, Thursday, August 13:


•    Swim 30 minutes moderate


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 7:50 pace


Day 93, Friday, August 14:


•    Mountain bike 80 minutes hard and 10 minutes easy 


Day 94, Saturday, August 15:


•    Swim 30 minutes hard


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 7:45 pace


Day 95, Sunday, August 16:


•    Rest


Day 96, Monday, August 17:


•    Mountain bike 85 minutes hard and 5 minutes easy


Day 97, Tuesday, August 18:


•    Swim 23 minutes moderate and 7*1 min max effort


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 7:40 pace 


Day 98, Wednesday, August 19:


•    Mountain bike 90 minutes hard


Day 99, Thursday, August 20:


•    Swim 30 minutes easy


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 7:35 pace


Day 100, Friday, August 21:


•    Mountain bike 90 minutes hard


Day 101, Saturday, August 22:


•    Mountain bike 90 minutes easy


•    Trail run 60 minutes at a sub 7:30 pace


Day 102, Sunday, August 23:


•    Rest 


Day 103, Monday, August 24:


•    Swim 22 minutes moderate and 8*1 min max effort


•    Mountain bike 90 minutes easy


Day 104, Tuesday, August 25:


•    Trail run 60 minutes easy


Day 105, Wednesday, August 26:


•    Swim 30 minutes easy


•    Mountain bike 45 minutes easy


•    Trail run 15 minutes easy 


Day 106, Thursday, August 27:


•    Swim 20 minutes easy


•    Trail run 10 minutes easy


Day 107, Friday, August 28:


•    Swim 15 minutes easy


Day 108, Saturday, August 29:


•    Race Day!


 

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date: June 30, 2020

Xterraman