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New-ish and a planning question, long post
CREATED: 11/28/09 by hamburger1971 REPLIES: 10
hamburger1971's ravatar hamburger1971    JOINED: 8/13/09    POSTS: 46
New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 11/28/09 9:53 PM

Hello, all. I've been browsing the site ever since participating in a practice tri with the club this summer, and have picked up lots of good info. But now I'm struggling to plan out what will be my first full tri season, and would love some advice.

Quick history to frame it all in: years ago I got hurt/married/lazy and got fat, and about 3 years ago decided to get back into shape. I'm about 215lbs now (down from 340!), and did my first 2 tri's as a challenge and to try to lose another 10 or 15 lbs since I've been stuck at 215 for a while. As you know, this stuff is addictive and I've responded well to the structure of registering and being forced to train :-)

I did 2 sprints last summer, with the goal of just finishing without stopping, and finished in the top third or so both times- not exactly fast, but not in last place, either. So I decided that I'd like to do at least one Oly next year, in addition to a few sprints. I've run 3 10K's in the last month or two to try and build a better cardio base, figuring that I'd need to do a 10K at the end of an Oly, so that's a good place to start. FWIW I put in 8 minute miles at the Bethesda Turkey Chase this week, which I considered to be a hilly course but don't really know any better!

And finally, the question - how does the combined wisdom of the group propose making the jump from just a few sprints to Oly distance races, and how early in the season should I sign up for one? I'm thinking about doing both the NJ State and then Nation's events, with some sprints earlier in the year. But I'm not sure if I should wait that long to knock out the longer event, or how to maintain training for the longer events until mid-summer.

What does everyone think about timing for that first Olympic event, assuming I probably couldn't do it today but hope to be in good enough shape to complete one before the official end of the winter?

Thanks, and please let me know if I should push this post to another section.


ncrcoach's ravatar ncrcoach    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1101
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 11/28/09 10:37 PM

Hey Jeff,

Glad that you are planning to make the jump to the Oly distance. I think you should be fine with how you have spread out your Oly distance races with one in July and then another in Sept. You seem to have a grasp on a planning a race schedule. Doing 1-2 early season sprints will definitely prepare you for the Oly races. You may look to do another one in August just to keep you fine tuned for Nations. I love racing, but I believe in a caution of over racing. Over racing will definitely burn you out.

Another thing to consider is where your weakness is in the sport. Throwing in a 5k/8k race in somewhere on your schedule. Or consider doing an open water swim to help you become comfortable with that aspect of triathlons.

A lot of this depends on your goals. One thing is when planning a race schedule is not to race than every other weekend, whether that be a run/swim race or a triathlon.

Good luck and I hope the TT from this past summer helped out.

karlaj's ravatar karlaj    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 215
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 11/28/09 11:33 PM


Congrats on being bitten by the tri bug.

I had a simliar 1st year, just trying to finish the sprint distance, and had a very similar 2nd year plan (3 olys instead of 2, but same goal race). I don't think you'll have too much trouble stepping up to and completing olys.

As for how to plan a season (which I think gets to the heart of your question), there's a few tri books out there that are good reads, e.g. Joe Friel's Triathlete's Bible (I'm sure others will chime in), which walks you through the different training phases (base, build, taper, race, recovery, etc.) based on goal races. I also agree w/ Hugh's points about targeting weaknesses and not overracing. And, if you're not into do-it-yourself coaching, consider hiring a coach if you've got the $.

You may also consider taking it a little easy during the winter, as your body will enjoy the R&R before next year's blitz. Sounds like you've made alot of progress, and pushing too far too fast too long can burn you out. Just something to watch out for.

Good luck! -Jason

hamburger1971's ravatar hamburger1971    JOINED: 8/13/09    POSTS: 46
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 11/29/09 8:56 AM

Thanks for the quick feedback.

I'll have to order a book to get some additional advice, but one of my wintertime goals is to drop some pounds before next season. If I can get down to 205 (or even 200) I'll be one happy camper and that'll set me up for a better year as well as just being that much healthier. Unfortunately I don't diet well, so I need to create that calorie deficit by burning more rather than comsuming less. I can do "calorie avoidance" like not going insane @ Thanksgiving but if I try to diet I'm great for 5 days and then I eat a bag of Oreos.

So in order to burn those calories I'm still going to try to get 5 or even 6 days/week of workouts, including strength training, at least one longer run (for me that's 5 or 6 miles), stationary biking, and intervals for both. In my mind, that's the base I'll need for next season, and then I can build on it. Oh, and jumping in the pool at least once/week to keep that from fading too far.

It sounds like targeting later in the summer for Oly's may be a good idea, now I just have to find some sprints for earlier in the year. Maybe 1/month to keep me focused. Any recommendations for local sprints early in the year? I haven't seen too many online.



krafty81's ravatar krafty81    JOINED: 5/20/09    POSTS: 127
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 11/29/09 1:06 PM

If you are top third of sprints, you are ready for oly. I did that last year. Did Columbia (June/Oly), and Nations (Sep/Oly). Did two sprints in between. It worked out great. Don't be afraid of the longer distance, looks to me like you are ready. I am moving on to HIM next year, after being in top 10-15% of my last four tri's. Good luck!

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 11/29/09 1:28 PM

well the good news is that you are taking a good approach to triathlons with starting with a season of sprints, so that was a very good move on your part.

if you do a couple or 1 sprint early in teh season say may -june that will get the early season jitters out and you can focus on a july-sept olympic event.

read the books and see what is out there.

my personal opnion is that a jump from sprint to olympic if you do the training is not a very big jump at all. if you have a solid base of training for a sprint the jump to olympic is small but you have to have some base of training already in you so that the jump isn't drastic. the only thing that really changes in your trianing is your "long" workouts for each sport. the rest of the week is really in a way maintanance so that you can do the next "long" workout.

when it comes to eating healthy im' in the same boat as you, i eat too much junk food/fast food and sodas, but in the last 3 weeks have made a concious effort to eat better. its not so much a diet so much as it is cutting out the junk food and eating differnt things. is it easy? heck no, but i do know that i'm slowly losing weight. i'm starting to get used to it but i will admit that 1 day a week i do eat what i want, is it perfect? nope, but i'm creating the caloric deficit i need the other 5 days a week that i normally wouldn't have had. try it out it might work for you.

mihoke's ravatar mihoke    JOINED: 11/24/09    POSTS: 9
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 12/01/09 12:49 AM

First, congrats on the weight loss! My younger brother went from 320 down to about 205 in around a year, and now regularly competes in half marathons (can't convince him to do tris, he hate's to swim).

I completely agree with krafty, with your sprints under your belt, take the next step up to the Olympic. If there is anything I have learned in my very short time in this sport, it's that your body will respond to the training you give it, as long as you take your time and increase your volume incrementally. Find a good program, and stick to it. The most important factor, with the training, and your eating, is consistency. Tri-newbies has a program I used for my first Olympic last fall :

And don't get frustrated with the food. It took me two years to get my eating under control. Best solution I found was to not think about dieting. Think about changing how you eat. And keep the junk out of the house/office/car. If it isn't there, it's hard to eat. And the more I train, the more I want to eat well. Stick with it and you'll see the results (I've lost almost 40 lbs in 8 months 220-180). Good luck!

silvercannonca    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 45
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 12/01/09 9:55 AM


congrats on the weightloss and getting back into fitness. I had hit a size 22 - not really sure how much I weighed because no point in getting on the scale to tell me what the mirror told me -- I was BIG. What it comes down to is what do you believe you can do? The first race I ever signed up for was a marathon as it was one where you could sign up the day before. I had been running 6-8 miles several times a week and was still a size 16 when I ran it but thought, ok, I can at least give it a try and walk a lot if I need too. When I finished, I told myself, never again - but I did finish in under 5 hours. Two years later, I did run again. My first tri was a Sprint. When I came out of the water, I was in the bottom 10 people, but the bike/run I did reasonably well and didn't die so thought, what the heck, I'm go for an Olympic distance and did one two months into doing triathlons. I was in the bottom six coming out of the water in the Oly, but then there was the fun of passing up lots of people on the bike portion. I finished middle of the pack and had a lot of fun doing it. (the marathon was 20x harder and was not fun)

In other words, it comes down to what you are comfortable with. I'm comfortable with not knowing I can do it, but wanting to find out asap. Other people would say it's ridiculous and you should build. Ask yourself, how did you do in the Sprints and are you ok with knowing you may get into the middle of a Oly and run out of gas (that is not going to happen if you've already done a couple Sprints, but I guess you should be prepared anyway).

Good luck, and I say GO FOR IT

seewhatucando's ravatar seewhatucando    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 117
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 12/01/09 9:59 AM

One suggestion for an early season sprint is the Lake Anna Sprint put on my set up events. They just announced the date for 2010 - May 9th. Congrats on the weight loss that is seriously impressive!

hamburger1971's ravatar hamburger1971    JOINED: 8/13/09    POSTS: 46
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 12/01/09 10:36 AM

Thanks for the feedback everyone!!

Mihoke, I looked @ the training plan that you sent, and have a question for the group- I feel like the early weeks in the guide might actually take me a step backwards from where I am today. For example, over the last month or two, at least once/week I'm doing 4 miles of intervals, in addition to trying to get one or even two 5-6 mile runs in. In between I ride (lately in the gym) and then may run 2 or 3 miles if it was a short ride or isn't a weights day. I've just gotten back into the pool once/week, and have been putting in 40 laps per session so that's close to what the schedule recommends.

I know that it's just a guide, what are the thoughts on increases in listed distances, especially in the early phases? My hope is that it would help to build a better baseline for the later training. Is the important focus of the early weeks (especially over the winter) on the mix of workouts, slight build, and then recovery more than the pure distances or times listed? Or should I start in week 9 and essentially repeat that (adding speed/intensity) until 5 or 6 weeks before a race?

Silver, I think I could survive an Olympic distance today, though maybe not exactly burning up the course. I like the idea of training my way through to force me to keep working out, more than being afraid of running out of gas. Though my goal would be to maintain a solid pace throughout, not just complete the race!

FWIW, I registered for NJ State and Nation's last night, both Olympic distance races, so I'll start looking for sprints now. Seewhat, I did see the Lake Anna race so I'll have to give that a serious look (and then rent a wetsuit for cold lakewater!!).

Thanks everyone,


mihoke's ravatar mihoke    JOINED: 11/24/09    POSTS: 9
RE: New-ish and a planning question, long post
POSTED: 12/01/09 11:23 PM


I had a similar issue with the program when I started as I had been doing a lot more volume than the first weeks suggested. Adjust to what feels comfortable, but remember, taking a step back at the beginning of a long program is sometimes a good idea. I just finished my first marathon (Marine Corps) and started on my next training plan a few weeks later. There was a big step back the first few weeks of the new plan, but it was a good thing. You want to build into the longer distances and training times. You won't lose fitness, and you'll lower the risk of over-training. Some folks can just drive through with big mileage, but a lot of people have had success with periodization, where your volume builds and drops back, builds and drops back as you go from race to race. Any body have more thoughts?

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