I just ended my triathlon season; what’s next?
This is the question I get often as a coach in the Northeast where triathlon season typically ends in mid to late September. Most of my athletes want to continue their season in to November so they can take a week or two off before starting up training again for next season. Sometimes traveling to race a triathlon in a warmer climate is out of the question due to financial restraints, work, and family obligations that were all stressed to the limits in season. What does that leave those of us in the colder climates that would like to prolong our season with an event that will continue to test our endurance?
If you guessed a stand alone fall marathon, you’re right! So where do we go from here? First I still like to train my triathletes who choose this path in the context of triathlon. Second let’s say we have 6-8 weeks from the date of their last triathlon, after a transition week following the last race and a week for the taper we are only left with a 4-6 week block which is far less time then prescribed in a traditional marathon training plan. As a disclaimer, every athlete is unique and a different approach, such as cyclo-cross racing or a focused swim block may be more appropriate. Also, I would not recommend this route for a novice triathlete or an athlete who has been dealing with injury.
How do we use these few precious weeks we are given? I always stress quality over quantity. We might not reach that magical 20 mile training run, but top out at 16-18 miles and add in 10-14 mile tempo runs. Where after a 2 mile warm up, we run all the odd numbered miles at marathon pace. I like to do these once a week, except for the weeks when we are doing the long slow distance run. Since we are training in the context of triathlon we can do VO2 max intervals on the bike to continue training the anaerobic system without the impact of running. Prescribing longer swims with a pull buoy or buoyancy type shorts is a great way to rest the legs while still gaining and maintaining aerobic fitness.
During these condensed training blocks as an athlete you must listen to your body. Get plenty of sleep, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Eat a healthy diet to ensure that you are getting enough calories to recover, restock and fuel your workouts. This should include whole grains, healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables.
Staying in close contact with my athletes is vital in collecting the qualitative data to accompany the quantitative data and deliver a healthy athlete to the starting line!