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17
Nov
6:19 PM

Late Season Tri Training and Racing

Written by Neil Cook
Posted Jul 31, 2008

As the triathlon season winds down, many of us have late season goal races. While that gives us the summer’s great training weather to prepare, it also forces us to retain peak fitness for an extended period of time. Many of us will race from June through September. That’s a long time to hold on to peak fitness, making it easy to burn out. Here’s what you need to do to stay sharp for that late season race.

By the start of June you should have been well into strength building—lots of hills on the bike and while running. If you had an early season race, you should have been doing speed work as well. So, by the end of the summer, around August and September, your aerobic, strength and speed work have already been done. Now, you need to stay sharp while you race.

The key is to keep from overtraining. After a weekend race, take one or two days easy. Monday and Tuesday should be aerobic work. These should be easy rides and runs that are done completely in your aerobic zone. Spin up the hills and reduce your effort when running hills. Your swimming should be focused on refining your technique based on your last race. You may also want to work on drafting and sighting.

By the middle of the week you should be sufficiently recovered from your race to start some greater efforts. Swimming workouts should be short—25 to 50 yards—with sufficient recovery between repeats so that you can focus on technique. Cycling should include some short sprints—30 to 60 seconds—with a high cadence and hard effort. Again, keep the recovery period long enough to fully recover before your next fast effort. You can also climb hills in your big chain ring and a small cog while standing and keeping the cadence low. This will not stress your aerobic system, but will work your leg muscles. Running should include short, fast efforts again with long recoveries. These would be 50 or 100 yards at a faster-than-race pace and 100 to 200 yards recovery.

These fast efforts keep your neuromuscular system sharp and provide a strong physiological stimulus to keep you sharp. Always keep the volume low and the recovery long.

Include a longer ride or run on weekends when you do not race. Again, these should be done completely in your aerobic zone. They should be only slightly longer than race distance (sprint, Olympic and half IM distances).

One difficult aspect of this approach is keeping your volume down to maintain your edge for the race. Remember, you did all the volume earlier in the year. Doing lots of long swims, rides and runs will only deplete you and take away your hard-earned edge: speed.

The second aspect that poses a challenge to this is harder to control: the urge to race during training. All of your fast efforts need to be controlled and measured. The hard part is that you will feel fast and strong. When that guy pulls up along side you and gives you a glance that proposes a challenge, you need to remember your race goals. You need to stay focused and controlled. Taking up challenges while training will only break you down and greatly increase the risk of getting injured before your race.

Your training goals should be:

1. Recover from your last race,

2. Maintain aerobic fitness with moderate distance (reduced from what you had been doing) and controlled effort workouts,

3. Stay sharp with short and quick efforts and complete recovery between each fast effort.

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