The Standard Training Week, Pt. 3

With the endurance sessions established, defining the strength/speed sessions is next step in defining the Standard Training Week. If you have missed the two previous posts about the Standard Training Week, you can catch up here with Part 1 and Part 2.

Strength & Speed sessions can be tricky, and often times athletes will over do the intensity. There’s also a question of when to add strength or speed to a program. We also need to keep in mind that the Standard Training Week is NOT a plan for building into a race or specific event. With that in mind, Strength & Speed sessions are introduced into the Standard Training Week to simply maintain strength and speed that the athlete already has. To build upon these two pillars of fitness, I would recommend altering the Standard Training Week to focus on one or both speed and strength with the intent of improving them. But this is a subject for another time.

Strength
In my opinion, strength work, particularly with triathletes, is rarely understood, and often simply overlooked. In the case of the Standard Training Week, I recommend that strength work take priority over speed work, and that it become integrated into at least one session in each discipline each week. In general, this means using paddles for swimming, climbing hills on the bike, and running hills for the run. Strength work should be mixed into a workout, but does not always need to be the main focus of one particular session in the case of the Standard Training Week.

Example of adding strength work into each discipline of triathlon is as follows:

  • Swim: 2000m total as 500m warm-up, 8x100m freestyle @ tempo, 10x50m freestyle w/paddles, 200m cool down.
  • Bike: 45 minutes total as 15 min warm-up, 15 min steady @ HR Zone 2, 5×1 min seated hill climbs (cadence 60-65rpm), 1 min easy spin recovery, 5 min cool down
  • Run: 30 minutes total as 15 min warm-up, 5×20 seconds hill climbs @ 90% effort, 1 min easy jog recovery, cool down w/remaining time.

Speed
It’s important to keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way in the case of speed work. For this reason, Speed sessions do not need to happen every week unless the athlete is working through a training phase meant to build speed specifically. For the Standard Training Week, this is not the case. Again, speed sessions for the Standard Training Week should be approached as simply keeping the body primed for future work. I like to use short bursts of speed within a workout that would otherwise be relatively easy work.

Example of adding speed work into each discipline of triathlon is as follows:

  • Swim: 2000m total as 500m warm-up, 10x100m freestyle @ tempo, 12x25m freestyle max effort on 45 seconds rest, 200m cool down.
  • Bike: 45 minutes total as 15 min warm-up, 15 min steady @ HR Zone 2, 5×20 seconds all-out effort (sprint!) with 1min 40sec very easy spinning, 5 min cool down
  • Run: 30 minutes total as 15 min warm-up, 5×10 strides @ 90% effort on flat terrain, 1 min easy jog recovery, cool down w/remaining time.

Putting It All Together
Now that I have established the parameters for longer efforts and strength & speed work, I’d like to revisit our sample athlete, Jill, and her Standard Training Week, which I outlined in Part 2 of this series, and add details to her schedule.

Here’s a recap of Jill’s Standard Training Week:

Monday: Swim
Tuesday: Bike/Run
Wednesday: Long Swim
Thursday: Long Run
Friday: Swim
Saturday: Bike/Run
Sunday: Long Bike

And now, with some details:

Monday (Swim speed) 35 minutes total time:

  • Swim – 35 min – 2000m total as 500m warm-up, 10x100m freestyle @ tempo, 12x25m freestyle max effort on 45 seconds rest, 200m cool down.

Tuesday (Bike strength/Run strength) 1 hour, 15 minutes total time:

  • Bike – 45 minutes total as 15 min warm-up, 15 min steady @ HR Zone 2, 5×1 min seated hill climbs (cadence 60-65rpm), 1 min easy spin recovery, 5 min cool down
  • Run – 30 minutes total as 15 min warm-up, 5×20 seconds hill climbs @ 90% effort, 1 min easy jog recovery, cool down w/remaining time.

Wednesday (Long Swim) 1 hour, 15 minutes total time:

  • Swim – 75 min – 4000m total as 500m warm-up, 10×200 as 150m @ tempo + 25m FAST!, 2x(500m as 200m easy, 200m moderate, 100m fast!), 6x50m FAST! on 60 sec rest, 200m cool down

Thursday (Long Run) 2 hours total time:

  • Run – Easy run. Focus is aerobic effort & durability. Keep HR in Z1-2 throughout.

Friday (Swim strength) 35 minutes total time:

  • Swim – 35 minutes – 2000m total as 500m warm-up, 8x100m freestyle @ tempo, 10x50m freestyle w/paddles, 200m cool down.

Saturday (Bike speed/Run speed) 2 hours, 30 minutes total time:

  • Bike – 2 hours total as 30 min warm-up, 45 min steady @ HR Zone 2, 5×20 seconds all-out effort (sprint!) with 1min 40sec very easy spinning, 20 min steady @ HR Zone 2, 5 min cool down.
  • Run – 30 minutes total time – immediately following bike, Easy run. Focus is aerobic effort & durability. Keep HR in Z1-2 throughout. . End with 5×10 sec strides @ 90% effort on flat terrain, full recovery.

Sunday (Long Bike) 3 hours total time:

  • Warm up with easy spinning, light gear, high cadence.  Main set: Ride with a mix of efforts, heart rate zones 1-5. This can be solo or with a group. The more hills the better! Finish nice and easy.

With this outline of a Standard Training Week (along with some specific workouts to add some clarity to duration and intensity) we have just over 11 hours of training per week. Keep in mind, our sample athlete, Jill is focusing on the 70.3 distance, as noted previously. Someone focusing on other distances for racing could have less or more hours of training per week as part of the Standard Training Week. The amount of training in this week is also suitable to either add work to, if the specific training block calls for more, or remove work, for a recovery week as an example.

I hope that this series of newsletters about how to create a training program, and specifically, creating a program that can become the basis for your approach to training year after year has been helpful. With every training plan I write for an athlete, I start here, with the Standard Training Week, and then build it according to races, schedules, and life. If you take away one thing from this series it is this: when building a program for yourself, your number one priority is to make the plan sustainable. This means it has to be repeatable on a consistent basis. I cannot stress enough how consistency in your training will yield the best results over a long term.

I would love to hear from you! Whether you have questions about the Standard Training Week, or anything triathlon related, send them my way. Always feel free to email me directly (lee@trismarter.com). I generally respond to each email individually within a 48 hour period.

Until next time, keep up the training and racing, be safe out there, and above all, have fun!

Regards,
Coach Lee

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