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Over the next week Triathlete Magazine Senior Editor Matt Fitzgerald will provide six tips on jumping in to the sport of triathlon. In the third article, Fitzgerald explains how to train progressively leading into your “A” race.
Written by: Matt Fitzgerald
When you begin formal triathlon training, the challenge level of your workouts must be appropriately scaled to match your current fitness level. The result of doing such workouts will be an almost immediate increase in your fitness level. To continue building fitness, you must scale up the duration and/or speed of your workouts so they remain challenging throughout the entire training process, as you continue gaining additional fitness. This practice is known as training progressively.
For example, at the beginning of the training process, a one-hour bike ride at a moderate pace might provide an appropriate challenge to stimulate an increase in your cycling endurance. After completing one such ride, you may take advantage of the resulting endurance increase by completing a 70-minute long ride the following week, and so forth. Similarly, at the beginning of the training process a swim main set consisting of 4 x 100 intervals at speed intensity with 30-second rest periods might provide the right level of challenge. But after doing this main set a couple of times, you will probably need to add one or two intervals to this main set to get the same level of challenge, and you should.
You cannot increase the duration and/or intensity of your workouts indefinitely, of course. Thus, when you begin training, take some time to sketch out the toughest workouts you would like to do before competing in the race you’re targeting. These workouts should all fall within the final four weeks of your preparation. The workouts you do between now and then should move steadily toward that peak level in small steps. For example, suppose you decide you would like to complete a peak long run of one hour before doing your first Olympic-distance triathlon, and you are currently able to run 30 minutes at a moderate pace. In this case, you might increase the duration of your weekly long run from 30 to 60 minutes in six, five-minute steps.