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

Rich Strauss

First, I’m the “Season Planning Coach” here inside Endurance Nation — TeamEN athletes give me their race schedule, or ask me for race planning advice to meet their season goals. I then create for them a Triathlon Season RoadMap, detailing for them how I want them to stack our training plans across their season, given their race schedule.

Second, the most valuable tool we have for making our athletes much faster in advance for their 2015 season is our OutSeason (OS) training plan: extremely low volume, high intensity training designed to build their FAST before we shift towards building their FAR in the spring. Internally, the OS 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 team organically plugs themselves into accountability and networking systems that will carry them through their 2015 training and racing season.

To maximize this unique potential of the OutSeason, we drop our athletes into their OutSeason training in two main groups:

  • November OutSeason (NovOS) — begins October 27th, 2014
  • January OutSeason (JanOS) — begins January 5th, 2015

Third, with the 2014 Ironman® racing schedule pretty much in the books, I’m deep, deep, deep into the process of helping our athletes:

  • Make smart race selections decisions for 2015, ensure they are choosing smaller races that compliment their larger goals for 2015.
  • Are doing the right things between the end of their 2014 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, let me now give you, the self-coached athletes some advice for how to 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

If you’re an EN athlete, I’m your coach. If you’re a self-coached athlete, you are your own Coach. Each respective coach is tasked with the job of building a faster athlete for the 2015 season. It would be really, really groovy, helping us help you reach your goals, if we could build your 2015 season directly on top of the excellent fitness you have now, rather than having to rebuild your fitness before we can make you 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, usually incorrectly, before you can even begin to make yourself faster.

The Endurance Nation Method:

  • Detailed Debrief — our 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 we’ve created to guide our athletes through the process of recovering their bodies and resetting their heads after their AAA+ race for the 2014 season. This phase typically lasts 2-4 weeks, or as long as it takes for them to reset their heads and want to begin training again.
  • Bike or Run Focus Training Plan — next, we take this excellent, season-ending base fitness they’ve worked so hard to build, and apply it to the weaker of their two sports via a focused, low volume, high intensity block of training.

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:

  • We’re only going to put you in your “this is the training plan I’m using to train for me AAA+ race” training plan for 10-14 weeks.
  • Until we drop you into this training plan we keep (1) the training volume as low as we can for as long as we can, so we can make you a much faster athletes and (2) your head out of a space where you think you’re training “for” your AAA+ race.
  • We do this by 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:

You’ve already got a great base of fitness, having just completed your triathlon racing season! 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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