Monthly training for self-coached triathletes, pt. 2

This is the second in a monthly series of articles designed to give multisport athletes access to real workouts they can use in their own training as they work to achieve their personal fitness goals.

Each installment will cover a particular "phase" of the triathlete's annual plan as they progress throughout the year to their key event.

Below you will find sample workouts for one week. For additional workouts, visit the Performance Training Systems site. Your feedback and comments are welcome in the PTS forum.

Please note: These workouts are not in any specific order and are not intended to take the place of a structured training program! Athletes should adapt the workouts according to their level of experience and goal race.

Base period one

So, you have completed your preparation phase, a solid 2-6 weeks, and you are ready to take the training wheels off and let it rip, right?

Wrong! There is still a long way to go to race day. Any hard efforts at this time of year will only take away from your season goals by either making you overtrained or forcing you to peak too early.

Remember: Patience is key! Keep your eyes on the prize. In this early base period, we will continue our steady, balanced approach to fitness by extending the duration of exercise, throwing in some speed work to keep our skills up and building strength.

Building endurance

Each week of this period should extend your endurance in at least one discipline. For example, your first week might have you completing 3-5 total hours on the bike while only swimming two hours and running two hours. You will notice this change reflected in the focus of each week's workouts.

Your endurance work should build over the course of the period AND should develop according to your season goals: Endurance work for an Olympic-distance athlete will be very different from someone training for an Ironman.

Either way, don't kick off your first base period by upping your longest run by 100%. This is the first of a minimum of three periods, so there is plenty of time left!

Increasing strength

The Base Period is also the time to start building your strength. Assuming you have been lifting regularly for 4-6 weeks, you can safely move into the Maximum Strength (MS) phase of your lifting.

The MS phase is crucial for athletes to improve their ability to generate force; the weights help by training your body to recruit a high number of muscle fibers.

Later on in Base Two and Three, we will work to transfer this power to your bike and run.

Be sure to start conservatively with this phase -- it is easy to get injured! During this phase you will want to complete the following three lifts: Leg Press, Seated Row, and Standing Bent Arm Lat Pulldown.

You will build each of these lifts to three sets of six repetitions of a percentage of your body weight (BW).

Leg Press = 2.5 - 2.9xBW
Seated Row = 0.7 - 0.8xBW
Standing Bent Arm Lat Pulldown = 0.3 - 0.5xBW.

At this time you should continue working your core, leg extension and leg curl machines (3 x 20-30 reps). For more information and guidance on MS weights, please refer to Joe Friel's Triathlete's Training Bible.

Stay focused!

Remember, it's very easy to get carried away this early in the year. Patience now will pay huge dividends come race time.

Most of your aerobic work should be completed in Zones 1 and 2. Good luck! If you have any questions, visit the PTS forum.

Swim workouts

Swim 1: (Focus = endurance)
Warm up: 500 as 200 FR easy, 200 as 4x50(25K/25DR)
Main set: 2x Pyramid 100/200/300 pull/200/100.
Warm down: 200 Stroke EASY.
Notes: DR = Drill, your choice. Pyramid is 15" rest per 100 (so 200=30" rest). Focus on maintaining same # of strokes per length as distance changes. You can pull the 300 if you want.
Total: 2700

Swim 2: (Focus = endurance)
Warm up: 800 as 200 FR easy, 200 as 4x50K (20"), 400 as 8x50DR (catch up/finger tip drag/fist/finger tip drag)
Main set: 2x(400 Pull steady/100BR [40"]), then 4x(100IM/150 FR easy [20"])
Warm down: 400 as alt 100 pull/100FR easy
Notes: BR=Breast stroke; rest 40" after each 400pull + 100BR, then rest 20" after the 100IM and the 150 easy!
Total: 3200

Bike workouts

Bike 1: (Focus = cadence)
Warm up: 15' easy spin
Main set: Two times through of 6x3 minutes as 45"@90RPM, 45"@60RPM, 45"@100rpm, 45"@70rpm
Warm down: 12 minutes easy spin
Notes: Focus on "quick feet" and maintaining a smooth stroke regardless of the cadence! Depending on your trainer, either increase wattage or shift to increase resistance and lower your cadence.
Total time: 45 minutes

Bike 2: (Focus = endurance)
Warm up: 20 minutes spin easy with 4x1 minute spin-ups/2 minute recovery spin @90-95rpm
Main set: 4x10 minutes as (5 minutes steady spin, 5 minutes as [90 seconds BCR seated, 90 seconds SCR spin, 60 seconds BCR standing, 60 seconds SCR spin])
Warm down: 5 minutes easy spin
Notes: BCR = big chainring; SCR = small chainring. Build spin-ups to 120+ rpms. If you need to increase the resistance when you stand, you can shift as needed (or adjust the wattage).
Total time: 65 minutes

Run workouts

Run 1: (Focus = endurance)
Warm up: 10 minutes of easy jogging
Main set: 35 minutes of steady running. Check cadence every 5 minutes
Warm down: 5 minutes of light jogging
Notes: Keep the turnover up! Minimum of 22 left-foot strikes every 15 seconds -- check every 5 minutes during main set!
Total time: 45 minutes

Run 2: (Focus = relaxed shoulders)
Warm up: 10 minutes easy jog
Main set: 20 minutes easy run
Warm down: 5 minutes jog
Notes: During easy jog, focus on relaxing your hands and arms, as well as your face (a small smile helps!). Every 5 minutes, really try to exhale fully and allow your shoulders to drop down, away from your ears.
Total time: 35 minutes

Patrick McCrann, Head Coach and Founder of Performance Training Systems, is a member of Joe Friel's Ultrafit coaching group and is USA Triathlon certified. You can find more workout examples here. Learn more about PTS at

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