The most important question when deciding on a training plan is "What is my ‘A’ Race?". You may have various races scheduled before your half-distance “A Race”, but you still want to time your training ideally so you finish your Specialty Phase leading into your A-Race. The standard training plan sequence you’d follow for that scenario would be:
Base: Half Distance Base
Build: Half Distance Build
Specialty: Half Distance Specialty
This sequence of plans will take about 24 Weeks from start to finish, but if you're short on time, or if you have extra time on your hands, check out the following articles to learn how to adjust appropriately:
Integrating your Lower Priority Races
Now that you've decided what race is your first priority for the year, we can start to fit the lower priority races into your calendar.
If you have a full-distance "B" race that you intend to complete this year, then completing Full Distance Base in place of Half Distance Base could be a good option to help increase your endurance and allow you to finish strong in your full-distance event. You will complete Half Distance Specific Build and Specialty, so this will take very little away from your half-distance performance while helping your performance in your "B" priority full-distance event.
For optimal scheduling, we recommend planning to compete in your full-distance "B" race after your half-distance "A" race. This will allow you to fully dedicate yourself to the half-distance event before switching gears. Trying to fit a full-distance event in before your half-distance event will cause a significant disruption to your half-distance preparation, potentially jeopardizing your performance in your "A" race.
Upon completion of your half-distance event, you will then switch to the Full-Distance Plans. First, you will want to take the necessary time to recover (4-8 days) from your half-distance race, but then you can jump into either Full Distance Build or Specialty depending on how much time you have.
If you have multiple half-distance races in your season, you'll need to determine their priority with respect to each other. Are they both "A" races, or is one more important than the other?
If they are both of equal priority, then check out this article, "Peaking for Multiple "A" Races."
If one of them is a "B" race, then you will first set up your Base>Build>Specialty progression to end on the date of your highest priority race. Once you've done that, you will adjust the plan in your TrainerRoad calendar to accommodate your lower priority event.
Generally, we recommend scheduling your "B" priority race prior to your "A" race so that you can learn from the "B" race and apply lessons learned in your "A" race. By default, the Half-Distance plans schedule a Half-Distance "B" race for the fourth weekend of the Specialty Plan, or four weeks prior to your full-distance Event. You can learn more about the details by checking out the Weekly Tips for that week of the training plan.
If your chosen race falls prior to Week 4 of the Specialty Plan, then copy/paste the fourth week of the Specialty Plan into the week leading up to your half-distance "B" event to ensure that you are properly preparing for the event. After the race, listen to your body and be sure to give yourself sufficient time to recover before jumping back into the plan where you left off.
If your chosen race falls after Week 4 of the Specialty Plan, you will still copy/paste the fourth week of the Specialty Plan to the week before your half-distance event, but you will need to take additional care to recover afterward since your "A" race is soon to follow.
Olympic Distance Races
An Olympic Distance Race is scheduled within the Training Plans for Build Week 8. If your timing does not line up perfectly, the adjustments you will make will be the same as above.
Sprint Distance Races
A Sprint Distance Race is scheduled within the Training Plans for Week 4 of the Build Plan.
A Sprint Distance Race would normally be considered a "C" priority race for most half-distance athletes, therefore, there is no need to tweak your plan to prepare for them. Just replace your weekend workout with the race, and dedicate the day afterward to a smooth recovery ride if necessary.
If this race is of higher priority to you, and you would consider it a "B" race, then you may consider completing Week 8 of Sprint Distance Specialty on the week leading up to your Sprint Distance Event. Week 8 is the Sprint Plan's taper week, it is designed to prep you for the efforts that you will see on race day :)
Personal Run/Swim Plan
If you are planning on only using TrainerRoad for the bike portion of your training, you will still want to follow the same training plan progression outlined above, and just replace the prescribed running and swimming exercises with your own.
One common question we see is: "Should I do a cycling plan such as Sustained Power Build instead of the Triathlon plans?”. If you are mid-season and regularly running and swimming, then the Triathlon specific plans are a much better choice since they factor in the extra training stress you are accumulating through your other two sports.
In addition, they are specifically tuned to the demands of triathlon, which allows for optimal training and adaptation.
A great way to use your off-season is to focus on cycling-specific training to improve your bike-leg. This time spent with a singular focus will allow you to progress much faster than when your efforts are split three ways. When taking the time to focus on cycling in the off-season, we recommend choosing one of our cycling Build Phases.
Sustained Power Build is the plan that will offer the most direct improvements for your triathlon performance. It focuses solely on raising your threshold and your ability to maintain steady, consistent power.
General Build If you are looking to increase your general cycling fitness and keep up on spirited group rides or try your hand at local cycling races, this plan is a great choice. Also, if your events have climbs or undulating terrain, this plan will help broaden your range of capabilities, which may increase your comfort level on race day. But remember, even if the course profile is varied, a steadily paced effort is a faster and more sustainable approach.
Short-Power Build is not a great choice for improving your triathlon performance, however, if you like to participate in criteriums, or just want to improve your burst power for other reasons, then Short Power Build could be a good way to mix things up in the off-season.
More Triathlon Info