The best triathlon training plan involves balance and commitment, like pretty much anything in life. Personal finance is a great analogy. In order to make money investing, you need to save and wait. Take some percent of your money, every day, and watch it compound. But you shouldn't save all your money and move into a shelter! It's about balance. You shouldn't only save one month out of a year. You can't train for a triathlon with one huge session on Sunday. A little effort every day. There are so many analogies. One brick at a time. First step of 1000 miles. You probably know the answer already. Focus on getting a little better everyday and on the fundamentals. Try to balance effort between all three sports. Keep easy days easy. Plenty of Rest. Have fun. Practice in groups. Stay motivated. Avoid injuries. Improve technique. Don't judge yourself!
You can achieve so much more than you believe possible. How will you ever know if you don't try. Triathlon is filled with inspirational stories of people who have exceeded their wildest expectations. You can do it!
Congratulations, you've already taken the biggest step. Next up is to believe in yourself. Start out slow and easy. Remember, at this stage you will see huge improvements from your efforts. An experienced triathlete might train 10 hours a week at medium heart rate just to maintain fitness. You can train at the same HR and improve dramatically in just a few hours. Try not to allow your HR to get too high. Remember that a bpm of 180 is a huge effort, one you shouldn't do too often. Almost all of your workouts should be easy. No reason to race everyday. Not only is it mentally hard and leads to frustration, it limits your ability to do vary pace and leads to plateauing.
80/20 is a widely accepted theory positing that one should train 80% of the time at an easy effort and 20% at a hard effort. These 80% efforts are sustainable and improve aerobic fitness. They prevent burnout and maintain fitness. The 20% efforts are hard and work on high end fitness. If you don't follow 80/20, and instead do all your workouts hard, one of two things happen. You either go too hard and burn out or overfatigue your body, or you end up going all the time at a "vanilla" pace. We follow 80/20 on this team.
Your body produces energy in several ways, and each of these can work in some combination. Instead of eliciting nightmares of freshman Bio, I'll keep it general. At a low effort, your body tends to produce energy from fat. This doesn't mean that you burn more fat though! It has only to do with the source of energy. Fat = calories in - calories out, regardless of how they're burned. This low energy zone is very tight in beginner athletes and short distance racers. Long distance racers train at low efforts to improve this zone. An ironman relies heavily on fat burning. Next is carb burning, or classic aerobic glycolysis. This energy zone is the "sweet spot" where an individual is producing energy without lactate and is where you generally want to be in a triathlon. You generally have up to 2000Kcal of energy stored in blood glucose at the start of a race, and this will drop as you use that blood glucose. That is why you may need to eat sugary food during a long race or workout. At the top end of this zone is threshold. This zone one should be able to maintain for around an hour before fatigue brings you into the next zone. Finally, we have anaerobic energy production. This occurs when the body cannot bring enough oxygen to the cells. Instead, fat is inefficiently synthesized into energy, producing lots of burning lactate. You can only do this for so long, like the end of a race or a hard workout.
We use the training zones extensively to benchmark efforts and create workouts. They correspond to varying energy systems and muscular zones Z1 - Easy effort with low HR (<120) Z2 - Endurance effort, can still hold a conversation (120-145) Z3 - Aerobic effort (also called tempo) harder than endurance, but can be maintained for long periods. (145-160) Z4 - Threshold- right at the border between aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Race pace. Short intervals in training. Not too often Z5 - Anaerobic effort (also called VO2) - should be taking in maximum oxygen and burning all of it. Produces lactate. Not too often. Z6 - High end anaerobic - Very little aerobic contribution. Like a 200m run sprint, 50m swim race, or 30 second bike effort. Z7 - Full sprint - all fast twitch muscles and neuromuscular force. Very little cardiovascular contribution during the effort. Like a <100m running sprint, 50m swim race finish, or 10s bike sprint.
You should use a benchmark race or time trial to find out your zones via one of many online apps, like these https://www.alpfitness.com/fitness-calculators/calculate-pace-zones-for-running/ https://www.runningzone.com/pace-calculator/ When we say "400m at 5K" we mean for you to enter in some race time, convert it to a 5k time, then use that pace. Same with the zones
Generally, one should increase distance at no more than 10% from week to week. If you are at the upper end of 10% increase, make sure to keep the runs easy. Listen to your body and be smart about injuries.
Running depends highly on aerobic metabolism and the cardiovascular system. More so than cycling and swimming. Likely, you are taxing this system to the max by running too hard. If you try to bench press at your max every day, that would be hard too! Fortunately, your cardiovascular system will improve with steady efforts. Keep at it!
Patience! It takes a lot of easy efforts to improve your cardiovascular system. Fortunately, this consistent work will pay huge dividends. Keep at it. Speed will come later. The muscles are much more responsive to training than the cardiovascular system, and it is thus easier to add close to a race. Including 20% hard efforts will help you rev the heart engine safely and get the most out of your training.
That depends on your height, but generally one should approach 180 steps/minute for optimal performance. This is a lot. Almost all beginners run with too low of a cadence.
This could be a whole book! Generally, focus on staying smooth. This means minimal twisting or side to side motion. Keep your head in one place. Try not to bounce up and down. Try to land with your foot underneath your body. Over striding causes you to "slam into your leg in front of you" and acts like a giant break. It also hurts your legs and can lead to injury. Try to limit stride length and focus on cadence. When running fast, stride length will be high because of speed, not over striding. Stay light on your feet. The shorter time your feet are on the ground, the better. It should almost feel like your dancing. The arms should swing straight up and down from above the hip to the pectoral. Some people like to make am "ok" sign with their thumb and forefinger. Stay upright. A slight bend foreword is ok, but only a small one.
Don't run through pain. Fitness is a long journey where small efforts compound over time. One good workout isn't worth a month of inactivity. If you feel something weird, ask us what we think. We might send you to a physical therapist here at GT or provide some recommendations. In our combined experience, we've seen quite a few running injuries before.
lol just ask any of our ME PhD students 🙂 On the bike, we spin the pedals in a circle with a radius. The torque is the force times the radius. When factor in the number of rotations per unit time, we get power. Power is what makes you go. Because many cyclists have power meters on their bikes, they use this number to gauge effort. Unlike running, power does not always predict speed. One can produce 10W at a -4% grade and go 30mph and produce 400W at 6% and go 10mph.
Like running, focus on base. Unlike running, you can safely go into the upper zones for short periods. And you should! Often! Those sprint efforts will make your legs stronger and improve your cardiovascular system without leaving you bedridden for a week. You also can safely go long in cycling with minimal recovery afterwards. Some athletes like to ride >100 miles at a time to work on that base!
For threshold efforts, 90 rpm has been found to be optimal. This can vary slightly by athlete, but it is generally true that a higher cadence gives higher power for the same effort. It's like a small foreign car that revs super high being more fuel efficient than a high torque gas guzzler engine. The actual mechanics are worth looking at if you're interested.
FTP is functional threshold power, or the maximum power you can sustain for one hour. This is usually tested by performing a 20 minute power test and taking 95% of that value. FTP is a good benchmark for each of your zones and is a good pace for sprint triathlons. Maximum aerobic power (MAP) is found with a ramp test. You keep pumping up the pain until you can't hold it anymore. The maximum 1 minute power is MAP. This roughly correlated to your maximum 4-5 minute power.
Please let us know where you are. If you really have no experience, we will recommend a CRC run program to get you able to swim a lap or too first. Then, feel free to come to our workouts. We will focus on form and technique, getting you ready to rock and roll.
lol swimming is a cruel sport. It is all about form. Finesse over fitness. We recommend watching some youtube videos of pro swimmers and filming yourself. It might look like a whole different sport. Swimming is hard. It takes a lot of work to get good. It's just like anything actually. We wouldn't just take a high school dropout and put them in fluid mechanics. Just takes time and effort.
We offer "A" workouts up to 5000m and have some other competitive swimmers on the team. Unless you are Michael Phelps good, you'll feel right at home.
A lot of us use strava as a social platform to track our workouts. We have a team page. Check us out https://www.strava.com/clubs/gt_tri_team_active_members