Below are 5 simple steps I follow to help create training plans for my athletes.
Step 1: Determine your goal event
When I start coaching an athlete, before I write the details of their plan, I ask them to fill out a detailed questionnaire and then we discuss their goals and experience. If you’re new to the sport, your goal is likely to just finish. As a result, the plan I design for you will involve building a foundation, skills and drills, injury prevention and strength training necessary to cross the finish line healthy. If you’re a seasoned triathlete, your goals might be to PR which means the plan I create will most likely involve more frequency and duration and definitely more intensity.
Step 2: Set up an Annual Training Plan outline
I follow the concept of periodization and phases of training to set up an Annual Training Plan calendar. I split the training “year” into phases, as determined by the event you are training for, and how much time you have to prepare. Based on how long you have to train before the goal race, I divide the training season (3, 6, 9 or 12 months) into periods or phases which make up your Annual Training Plan. Each phase has a specific goal or purpose and length, depending on your experience, strengths, weaknesses and how much time you can train. The number of weeks/months until race day and the length of the event will also determine how much time you need to train.
Step 3: Set up Phases of Training
Each phase represents a 4-12 week training block; starting with the race date and working backwards.
Phase 1: Taper, 1-3 weeks
Phase 2: Build race specific higher intensity, 4-8 weeks
Phase 3: Base, building a foundation, 8-16 weeks. Lower intensity, skills and strength workouts
Phase 4: Preparation- 2-6 weeks. Cross training, strength training, getting into a training groove
Phase 5: Transition, taking some time off at the end of your season.
Step 4: Fill in the weekly details
First, I schedule your “days off” from training.
Next, I fill in your KEY workouts which might be a “long” or intense training day determined by the event you signed up for.
Then, I fill in any group workouts such as masters swim, rides or runs.
Finally, the rest of your workouts including duration and intensity, dependent on the phase of training, intense training days, followed by recovery days.
Sport specific intensity is determined by the distance of your event as well as baseline testing protocols. Intensity is measured via heart rate or power and is very specific to your current fitness when the build period starts as well as your S.M.A.R.T. goals for their event.
Step 5: Be Mindful
There’s not one plan that works for everyone. It’s important to keep a log and listen to your body to avoid overtraining, injury and burnout. Be flexible and update your training plan when needed. Sometimes your rest week comes at an unplanned time if you get sick, travel or weather gets in the way of your workouts for that day or week.
Anyone can find a training plan online BUT knowing what to do with that plan is where a coach comes into play. Haphazardly training without a purpose and not understanding the training lingo can can lead to a season full of injury and illness and sub par performances.
Need more guidance? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a consultation.
Author: Wendy Mader is the co-founder and owner of T2Coaching and has made a lifelong commitment to fitness, sports, coaching, and triathlon. From her youth as a competitive swimmer to her current career in the fitness industry, her dedication shines. Wendy is a former collegiate swimmer and has 25 years experience in triathlon including 15 Ironman’s. Wendy is also an Ironman University Certified Coach, an 8x Kona finisher and author of “How To Swim Faster in 30 Days“. Wendy recently moved to Georgia with her husband and dogs after nearly two decades living in Colorado.
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