Triathlon Training Plans Revisited

My post last week has generated some chatter in various online forums. As such, I’ve decided to expand on why I personally believe that pre-made training programs are not optimal for longer distance racing (70.3 and above). As I stated in my original post, the only disadvantage I see to working one-on-one with a coach is cost. If cost is not prohibitive, I see no reason to opt for a generic training program over one that has been personalized to your needs.

The point that I made in the previous post that seems to be causing some debate online is that longer distance racing and training is less well-suited to the use of generic training programs. As has been pointed out on these forums, I obviously have something of a biased opinion as Trismarter.com primarily delivers personalized triathlon coaching and sports nutrition services. However, we also create and sell generic online forums and give away a online forums. We are certainly capable of creating 70.3 and IM distance programs but choose not to because we firmly believe that these programs are not ideally applied to longer distance racing.

Why?

It is important to keep in mind that my opinion applies to triathletes in general. Not to athletes that win races or win their age group. The majority of our clients are training toward an ironman-distance event. That is, their primary goal is to compete in and experience the ironman. Some, unquestionably, are competitive and do very well.

Longer distance racing requires greater training volume. Greater training volume and greater periods of time (weeks) training make injury and other obstacles to progress more likely. The more likely these obstacles are, the more, I believe, an athlete would benefit from the expertise and experience of a coach. It is for this reason that the majority of our Eat2Win sports nutrition clients are racing 70.3 and IM–the greater distances and volumes necessitate proper nutrition not just for performance but for survival.

Moreover, 70.3 and IM events are significantly more expensive. With increased expense, I see less reason to “risk” the success of the experience on a generic training program that might work for some athletes. Afterall, thousands of dollars have been spent on registration fees, bikes and other equipment, travel, etc. If you accept my statement above regarding the only disadvantage of coaching being cost, why skimp when it comes to preparation?

I have no doubt that naturally talented or veteran triathletes can perform well using a generic training program. In fact, some may be able to win an age-group doing so. These athletes, however, are relying on either superior athletic ability or seasons of experience to perform well or overcome/avoid the types of training errors that less-experienced athletes commonly make.

From one of the online forums:
“It makes a massive difference having someone on the outside looking in and making adjustments when necessary, to compensate for any unforseen circumstances. With a generic plan you either have to miss sessions or make something up yourself if that happens.”

Well said. The above applies less to a sprint or olympic distance event for the points I have already made. Thus, I think training for these events affords a greater opportunity to use a cookie-cutter training program if needed.

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