Start slow, then build
So your tri season is done. You maybe had some really good races and others that weren't up to par. You're ready to go full throttle for next year! What to do now? RELAX!!! This is the time of year when you should be out enjoying everything and anything that doesn't involve swimming, biking or running. Ok, so maybe that doesn't leave you with much. Now what?
Let's face it. Maybe we ski or snowshoe or hike, but what we really want to do is swim/bike/run. That is fine, but make sure that your plan of attack is organized and structured so that you're not burned out by Jan. 1st.
This is where prep and base training come into play. Sit down and figure out what your first A race is going to be next year. Then count back roughly 24 weeks. This is when your base training will start. Base training is the period of time where you get your body ready to train. Your build period is when you're getting your body ready to race. There's a difference and it's very important not to confuse the two. The first 2-4 weeks prior to your Base training should be a prep phase. This is when you just get your body back into the groove of swimming/biking /running. Maybe you've been sleeping in and now you need to adjust your body to waking up early. Workouts do not need to be structured. You can workout whenever you feel like it, doing whatever you feel like doing. The one key to remember is that you should be doing this all in a Zone 2 or well below lactate threshold. This is a good time to incorporate some weight training and functional strength training workouts.
Once you've completed your prep phase, you can work into your BASE BUILDING phase. This is a more structured workout, but again below LT. This is the time when you need to be concentrating on efficiency and doing drills. Drills, especially in swimming and biking, are crucial to becoming efficient in both. Now is the time to do it. You'll be thankful come the summer that you put in the time now. If you feel your swimming needs extra help, now is the time to look for some winter training classes. Same for the bike. Some great bike drills are single leg, spin ups and cadence specific pedaling. Single leg drills help balance out your pedal stroke by forcing each leg to work independently making the weaker one stronger and more coordinated. They are done by isolating one leg with the other on a chair or on the back of your trainer. Spin your leg evenly for a minute working up to several minutes. do the same for the other leg. This can be done as part of all your warm ups or as a shorter workout by itself. Spin ups: after a warm up spin up to over 100 rpms. Once your body starts bouncing in the seat bring the rpms back down to just where you stop bouncing. Do this for a minute, recover and repeat 5-7 reps. The bouncing is a result of your muscles not working efficiently togethor. By repeating this drill the muscles will learn coordinated firing patterns for smoother /efficient movement. The last drill is a high cadence drill. This can be a short ride where the goal is to ride at a higher than normal cadence (note your HR should not increase just the cadence). Try for 90-100 rpms for a given amount of time then go back to your regular cadence. Over time you will notice that your overall cadence will increase.
The latter part of your Base Training can incorporate some higher HR intervals pushing lactate threshold. You'll also want to develop mucsular endurance training at this time. Building upon your long rides and runs you can increase 10-20 % per week.
The key to Base Building is to not overstress your body while in the process of trying to get stronger. You should be lifting 2x a week. First start with higher reps and lower weight. After about 4-6 weeks increase the weight and then lower the reps. After your base period of training ends and you start to incorporate increased time and intensity, you can cut back on lifting/functional strength training and concentrate on swim/bike/run.
Enjoy some unstructured training. Remember now is the time to let your body recover from all the hard work you put in last year!!!