With the start of the New Year and the focus on new goals, the biggest part of training is consistency. It is better to do a small amount of exercise six days per week than miss workouts and try to “load up” in a short period.
In January, aim for a minimum of six workouts and one day off each week. The workouts should be broken up evenly among the disciplines: two swims, two bike workouts and two runs.
Equally important to early season training is the proper intensity level. Every athlete can build base fitness over the winter by spending most of his or training time at a Rate of Perceived Exertion of 6 or 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Finding your RPE is easier than it sounds. Simply assign a numerical rating to the difficulty of each day’s workout. The number should reflect your physical stress, effort and fatigue. Focus on your entire body. Try not to underestimate or overstate, but honestly gauge how hard your body is working. Base the number on heart and breathing rates, sweat, and muscle fatigue. It’s a subjective measure, but your Rate of Perceived Exertion will provide a baseline to build upon. It will also represent least 60 percent of another important figure, your Anaerobic Threshold.
That’s the point at which muscles begin to use more oxygen than the body can transport, and the work produces more lactic acid than the body can process, which leads to muscle fatigue.
Additionally, you should aim for 10 to 30 percent of this month’s training to include higher intensity in each discipline. This can be achieved by working at above an 8 RPE.
Triathlon is a challenging sport, and it rewards those who not only work hard but focus on efficiency. An improved swim technique, smoother pedal stroke and proper running form will pay big dividends on race day. You might recruit a friend with experience, hire a qualified coach or join a training group that can help with proper technique. If you are new to the sport, it is well worth your time to ensure proper technique.
Good luck, train smart, and race hard.
Zoom Performance is a professional endurance coaching company working with athletes from beginner triathletes to Ironman World Championship qualifiers. Certified coaches provide customized programs along with metabolic testing, bike fit, one-on-one analysis, clinics, and sports nutrition programs to allow athletes to take it to the next level.
Zoom’s January Bike Workout
- 10 minutes of warm up with 3 x 30-second spins each leg.
- 20 minutes at an RPE level of 6 with cadence of 85 or higher. Cadence is determined by the number of revolutions of the pedals each minute. Elite cyclists typically have a cadence of between 80 and 120. It is usually calculated by an onboard computer, but cadence can also be derived this way: Count how many times one leg does a full circle in 6 seconds, then multiple by 12 and double it.
- 5 x 4 minutes in high gear at a cadence of 50 to 60. These “power intervals” build aerobic capacity.
- 5 minutes cool down