Long Term Triathlon Success: Build vs Rebuild

800 800 Rich Strauss

Inside Endurance Nation, your first step of the season is to submit your races for a Triathlon Season Roadmap™ — TeamEN athletes submit their race schedule, or ask for race planning advice to meet their season goals. This  details for them how to stack our training plans across their season, given their race schedule.

The most valuable tool EN has for making athletes much faster in advance for their upcoming season is the OutSeason® / Run Durability training plan featuring three primary elements:

  1. Low volume, high intensity training designed to build their FAST before we shift towards building their FAR in the spring.
  2. High running frequency so we can maintain and build upon the running durability they’ve worked so hard to create during the season.
  3. Internally, the OutSeason is a very powerful tool for us, as a team-building opportunity — the noise and distraction of 600+ athletes racing different events every weekend disappears and is replaced by a unique opportunity to have these same 600 athletes training, thinking, and learning about the same things at the same time. The areas we’re having them focus on, as a group, in the OutSeason are habits and accountability systems to improve body composition, core strength, and running consistency.

To maximize this unique potential of the OutSeason, EN athletes head into their OutSeason training in four main groups:

  • November OutSeason (NovOS) — Monday of the first week in Nov (usually last week of OCT)
  • December OutSeason (DecOS) — First Monday of DEC
  • January OutSeason (JanOS) — First Monday of JAN (not New Year’s Day!)
  • February OutSeason (FebOS) — First Monday of FEB

With the season of endurance racing winding down, it’s time to help athletes:

  • Make smart race selection decisions for next year, ensuring they are choosing smaller races that compliment their larger goals.
  • Are doing the right things between the end of their season and the start of their OutSeason®
  • Get their minds right about how all of this compliments and fits within the Three Year Plan we’ve outlined for them.

So…having set the stage, how should you, the self-coached athlete effectively:

  1. Bridge the gap from the end of your current season to the beginning of your OutSeason.
  2. Make smart race choices.

Build Your Best Next Triathlon Season on the Base of Your Current Season

Whether you’re an EN athlete or a self coached athlete, the goal is the same: make you a faster and smarter athlete than the year before. Ideally it would be fantastic if you could build your season directly on top of the excellent fitness you have now, rather than having to rebuild your fitness before you get faster.

The Typical Triathlete Method:

  • Finish season, typically with your last triathlon in August, September, or October.
  • Jump on the OffSeason bus with your good friends Ben and Jerry.
  • Get off the bus a few months later.
  • Spend several weeks rebuilding your fitness, before you can even begin to make yourself faster.

The Endurance Nation Method:

  • Detailed Debrief — Athletes are strongly encouraged to write a detailed race report, to identify successes, failures, and lessons learned after all of their races, but especially after their season-ending AAA+ race.
  • Post Half or Full Ironman Transition Training Plan — two plans that are created to guide EN athletes through the process of recovering their bodies and resetting their heads after their AAA+ race. This phase typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
  • Run Durability or Bike/Run Focus Training Plan — next, athletes take their excellent, season-ending base fitness they’ve worked so hard to build, and keep the work rolling.  However now, much lower volume so they enter with formal beginning of the OutSeason without loosing a significant amount of fitness.

Make Smart Race Choices — the Split Season Approach

So you’ve finished your triathlon racing season and bust out the race calendar to select your events for next year. The races you choose, or not choose to do will significantly impact your AAA+ race goals for next season.

The Endurance Nation Race Selection Method:

  • EN athletes only go into their training plan for their specific race for 10-14 weeks
  • Until then you keep (1) the training volume as low as possible for as long as possible, so you become a faster athlete and (2) your head out of a space where you think you’re training “for” your AAA+ race.
  • Placing smaller races, or cool / epic training events, on the calendar every 8-16 weeks, so you’re moving from intermediate goal to intermediate goal, building your fitness with a relatively low mental cost towards your AAA+ race.

The net is that Endurance Nation athletes are encouraged to split their season into at least two parts. For example, athletes racing:

  • A May or June Ironman will race winter half marathons before a very early spring half Ironman (if possible) and then transition into their Ironman training plan in either March or April.
  • A July through September Ironman will do the same but choose a May or June half Ironman before transitioning to Ironman training in early May (IMLP) or June/July (IMCA, Lou, WI, LT, Chat)

The key is that these athletes are 100% all in towards training, thinking, and racing like half Ironman athletes before transitioning to their Ironman training block. This keeps them working on the their FAST for as long as possible, with a much reduced mental cost.

In Summary:

Set yourself up for long term success by building directly on top of the gains you’ve already made vs allowing yourself to have an OffSeason.

Rather than throwing that base away and having to rebuild it again early next year:

  1. Reset your head via an informal…but structured process. Have a plan for recovering.
  2. Apply that base aerobic fitness towards a focused block of training to improve your weaker sport. If in doubt, just run.
  3. Adopt our OutSeason vs OffSeason ethos, and training methods, through late winter.
  4. Exit the OutSeason much faster than your old winter self and begin building your endurance on top of this much faster you.
  5. Select races for next season that (1) organically build your speed and endurance in advance of your “for real” training for your AAA+ and (2) keeps your head out of a space where you think you’re training “for” your race for months and months.


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