Monday, February 1, 2016

Planning Your Race Year - Short Course to Long Course

by Marilyn Chychota

There are several ways to plan out your year. There are so many races on the calendar now the opportunities are endless and can be year round. While the wealth of race options is great, it can be more difficult to figure out how you want to plan your season.

Here are some suggestions for those looking how to approach the year with a late season ironman.

Above all, avoid training super long and for your ironman all year. This often leads to burnout well before that late season event ever arrives.

I suggest splitting the year into two seasons with the first focused on early season power, speed, strength and short course racing and the second season your long course focus. Through the late winter and early spring plan short running races and if possible bike time trials. Also consider masters swim meets and open water races for those in warm areas. These events will set you up well coming into the first phase of your short course.tri season.

You will develop race hardening, race experience, raise your top end and gain a huge amount of race fitness. Through early race season include sprints and Olympic distance racing. Look to race short, fast and often.

After this race phase have a short mini break of 10 days to two weeks. Focus on recovery. This doesn't need to be, nor should be, completely off, but the the focus needs to be complete rejuvenation.

After that break, start your long course focus with three to five weeks of solid training. That first week the temptation will be to come out of the gates flying. You'll be rested and still very fit. Be sure to ease back in!

On the fifth or sixth week into your long course focus training insert a 70.3 event if possible. Recover from that for five to seven days and resume your long course training focus for three to four weeks, followed by another 70.3.

After your second 70.3, slot in another five to seven days recovery, and return to long course training with six to eight weeks focused on a very specific ironman preparation and head to your AAA IM late season race.

Each person has different needs, challenges and races in mind that can turn any plan in a different direction. This is a suggested outline to help give you some ideas on planning your year. Of course always take into account the races you want to do, your family, work and other commitments as you plan. Many different formulas work; the key is to have a plan.


Marilyn Chychota has been in elite sport since the age of 9, from show jumping to cycling and triathlon. Competing on an international stage in all three sports with an Ironman title, several podiums and state championships in cycling, Marilyn works with all distance and level of triathletes and cyclists. From beginners to elites; short course, bike racing, stage racing and long course triathlon, she has guided several athletes to the podium and to Hawaii qualifications.
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