So race season has arrived. You've glanced at the calendar and your first triathlon of the season is not far away. And you're still feeling the effects of the holidays! So what's the best way to get your body amped up for race season and back into triathlon mode?
Here are three key steps to transition from offseason to race season.
If you're like most triathletes, you probably didn't completely stop swimming, biking and running over the past few months. But you may have gotten into slow and steady mode, with long, slow intervals performed at an aerobic pace. That simply won't cut it for increasing your maximum oxygen utilization and your ability to buffer the high amounts of lactic acid you're going to build up during a race. It also leaves you more likely to experience a protective muscle cramp when you call on your muscles to go hard during a race.
So you need to begin including intervals, preferably from longer intervals to shorter intervals as the race gets closer. For example, here's how you can progress over the next 4 weeks:
- Swimming: Go from 4x500s to 8x250s to 15x100s to 25x50s
- Cycling: Go from 3x10 minute with 5-minute recoveries to 4x8 with 4-minute recoveries to 5x5 with 2-minute recoveries to 8x2 with 1-minute recoveries.
- Running: Go from 3x1-mile repeats to 5x1/2-mile repeats to 8x1/4-mile repeats to 10x400-meter repeats.
Less Weight Training
Many triathletes do more weight training during the winter, often hitting the gym 3 to 5 times a week. But once race season rolls around, it's time to go into maintenance mode. You can easily maintain muscle, force, power and strength with 1 to 2 hard full-body weight training sessions per week that include large, multi-joint movements, such as:
- Overhead Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- Pull-Ups or Pull-Downs
During the season you should also avoid bulking up with excessive muscle, which is difficult to carry and cool. The best way to avoid building muscle is to lift with low repetitions and heavier weight—such as 3 to 5 sets of 4 to 6 reps for the exercises listed above.