At this time of year, the bulk of the work in your training schedule will be focusing on the word ‘base’, and while it’s right to be building foundations for 2019 it shouldn’t mean that you only focus on low-intensity miles. This time of year is also great for developing the key to unlock greater speed, and that key is power. In the same way that knowledge is power, for an athlete strength is power, which in turn provides speed.
Strength for a triathlete encompasses many areas – the amount of force generated into every swim stroke, the amount of power produced through the pedal strokes or the ease in which you can run an uphill section of a race. Strength for an endurance athlete should not be confused with an explosive power athlete; as endurance athletes we need to generate optimal strength over many thousand arm or leg revolutions and attempt to find the holy grail of optimal power-to-weight ratio.
- What’s the difference between training for strength and training for endurance?
- What is base fitness?
This eight-week plan is targeted at an Olympic-distance triathlon, so the duration can be increased or decreased depending on your targets. At this time of year it’s still important to get outside for training and a number of the sessions are better executed outside, especially the long runs, so try to find some hills on an ideally off-road (and maybe muddy) route. On the flip side, if the weather is rubbish then the bike and run interval sessions are great on indoor equipment, and in some cases better as you can control the session structure more.
Swim training shouldn’t be left out, as we can use training aids like pull buoys or paddles to focus more on the strength needed to improve technique and create better force in each stroke, which leads to more speed. The plan also includes twice-weekly, short-duration conditioning sessions, which are ideal at home with minimal equipment. The key to improving strength through conditioning is to not underestimate how effective a 20min session can be. Don’t let this be the one session that slips!
For this kind of plan to be effective, embrace muscle soreness after training – it’s just adaptation to the stimulus. At the end of the eight-week plan you’ll be a force to be reckoned with!
Dermott’s four top tips
1. Don’t avoid hills
They need to be conquered and will make you a powerful athlete. Even adding small ones to your training can add up to big spring gains.
2. Check your protein levels
Take a quick inventory of your diet to ensure you have a sufficient amount of protein to assist the recovery process after training.
3. Embrace the gym
Avoid the S&C workouts at your peril! Not only can they help to prevent injury, but they can be the key to unlock more power.
4. Think form and position
Adapt and improve both your bike and run posture with body awareness when climbing to remain efficient.