Training planning / periodization in triathlon: What you should pay attention to

Triathlon training planning
Photo: Marcel Hilger

What triathletes should know about training planning

Training planning in triathlon: A special challenge

Triathlon is a very complex sport simply due to the fact that three sports have to be completed – swimming, cycling and running. Accordingly, training planning in triathlon presents an increased challenge. 

How do I combine the sports optimally with each other? When is loading useful and when is unloading useful? How do I integrate all this into my everyday life? Many questions that often leave the layman perplexed.

Create a triathlon training plan: Here’s what to look for

With regard to training planning in triathlon, there are as many different approaches and theories as there are scientific studies that make it difficult to keep track of everything. It’s like in almost all areas: there are always trends and tendencies that suddenly appear, are “hip” for a short time and then disappear from the scene just as quickly as they came. 

In addition, however, there are clearly proven scientific theories that have stood the test of time, both in theory and in practice.

“The physiology of man is clearly defined”.

This includes the physiological processes in the human body, which are now very well studied and documented. Which stimuli are needed, for example, to increase maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) or to improve fat metabolism, are relatively clear (Read more here about this)

The starting point for this is knowledge of the metabolic profile of the athletes.

This can be clearly determined with the help of performance diagnostics, in order to be able to effectively design the training based on this. It is important to note that the training ranges are not derived as a percentage based on a number (anaerobic threshold, FTP), but take into account the individual’s metabolism.

This means that several parameters such as oxygen uptake,CO2 release, fat metabolism or carbohydrate consumption must be used for determination in order to obtain a clear picture of the physiology.

You can learn more about performance diagnostics in the THIS webinar with sports scientist and kick-ass trainer Philipp Seipp learn more.

The periodization of the training must be based on everyday life

Based on the metabolic profile, triathlon training should be optimally planned and periodized in terms of loading and unloading. Here, too, there are numerous scientific theories and studies that deal with how training should be optimally designed in order to achieve the maximum increase in performance.

Generalized, it is believed that the body responds to stress (training) with adaptation.

The interesting question behind this is how loading and unloading should be optimally coordinated so that these adjustments are as positive as possible.

Based on the energy consumption, for example, the load can be estimated relatively well. What is often not considered in theoretical considerations, however, are the everyday stresses of age group athletes.

Work, family, or social obligations are also considered “stress” on the body and affect athletic training, performance, as well as adaptations to them.

(Tips on how you can eat right in spite of everyday stress you can learn from HERE .)

With individual coaching, the training plan is based on everyday life”

The coach’s task is to take these additional stresses into account in the training process. The training structure and periodization should therefore be based on these factors and not rigidly adhered to scientific theories and guidelines.

Doing a high-intensity session after a stressful, busy day doesn’t go well in the long run. Instead, it makes more sense on these days to move loosely in the basic endurance range or even “just” do a yoga or mobility session.

In order to keep the loose units really loose, a knowledge of the metabolism is essential.

The right communication between coach and athlete

For the coach it is important to get as much information as possible from his athlete to be able to estimate the additional loads and include them in his planning.

From the trainer’s point of view, a detailed initial interview is essential in order to get as accurate a picture of the athlete as possible. In addition to sports-related topics, the professional and family situation and the (realistic) time availability should also be discussed.

From the athlete’s point of view, this requires a certain openness and cooperation to regularly inform the coach about these things. 

Likewise, from the coach’s point of view, it should be self-evident that each unit is evaluated not only on the basis of the bare figures, but also on the basis of the subjective feeling of the athlete and included in the further planning.

Meanwhile, the load can be determined using various gadgets, but this in no way replaces the own body feeling and the subjective feedback.

Consistency as the key to success

For most age group athletes, more training rarely means more performance. If a stressful daily routine is followed by excessive and/or intensive training, this usually does not lead to the desired progress in the long term.

In endurance sports, consistency is the key to success.

Those who can train consistently and with high quality over several years will not only be healthier and have more fun doing sports, but will also be more successful in the long run. 

Finding the adequate stress and relief in the often hectic everyday life is the key to success.

Most important points in training planning / periodization in triathlon

  • Individual metabolic profile as starting point (no derivation based on FTP or threshold).
  • Periodization and training planning must be based on everyday life and take into account additional loads
  • Stressful everyday life is never followed by intensive training
  • Communication between coach and athlete is a central component for successful planning.
  • Include subjective body feeling in the evaluation of the training sessions
  • Consistency is the key to success in endurance sports

This guest article comes from our partner KickAss Sports. The goal of KickAss Sports is to provide training that is geared towards the needs of age group athletes* who want to step out of their comfort zone and improve in a healthy and happy way, despite the high stresses of everyday life. 

Whether you are a triathlon beginner, a hobby athlete or an ambitious age grouper: KickAss Sports offers the right training plan for every level. In addition to triathlon training planning, technique training in the sports of swimming, cycling and running plays a crucial role at KickAss Sports.

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