11/5/13

Triathlon season planning - top 10 tips



I grew up traveling a lot.

 My parents sacrificed a lot for my brother and I to do what we loved with our bodies. Almost every weekend, we would be at a swim meet or gymnastic meet. 



This is a video of my amazing younger brother Aaron (University of Michigan gymnastics team) performing his high bar routine at the 2007 Big Ten Championships in his senior year. After this routine, he became the 2007 Big Ten High Bar Champion. 


What a rock star! Still so proud of him!



Almost 10 years since I graduated from college where I swam competitively all through College, I still enjoy traveling to race....or I guess you could say that I LOVE to race to travel. 

So - for next season, Karel and I have decided on four key races to take our love of traveling to the next level as we use our active bodies to cross finishing lines in new places. 


MAY 4th, 2014 - Me and Karel


June 1st, 2014 - Karel (I will spectate/sherpa)

June 29th, 2014 - Me and Karel

September 7th, 2014 - Me and Karel 


Signing up for races is easy - you must have your credit card handy and hit submit after you fill out your registration. 

I find that many athletes jump the gun when signing up for races and do not consider the time, money and energy that it takes for participating in a race. Not only the effort that is needed to train for the race, but also the mental toughness that is needed for obstacles and setbacks.

But more than anything - you must pick the right races. You may never know if the race is exactly what you plan for it to be on race day but with a little thinking ahead, you can set yourself up for a great racing season to execute on race day and put all that training to good use. 

Here are my top 10 suggestions for picking your races for next year (in no particular order)
1) Decide on 1-2 KEY races within 6 months. It's suggested that these races are around 3-4 months apart so that you can peak appropriately for both of those races and recover properly after the first race.

2) Consider your personal short and long term goals for each race. Are you chasing a time goal or PR, an age group/overall place, a qualification to another race or something personal?

3) Consider anything that may affect your entire racing season (and training) and consider a plan B if something good/bad happens at before or after each race. Consider qualifying for another race (money, travel, time, recovery, etc.), recover/prep for races, work/life, traveling, injury/sickness, etc.

4) Think really hard about why you are registering for a race. DO NOT pick a race just because you are feeling the itch because you just watched an Ironman finish or a marathon on TV or because a race is "open for registration". Have your top 5-10 reasons for why you are picking a race (remember, the money, time and effort that is required to get to the starting line).

5) Save your best performance for your key race. Build a foundation if you choose to race more than your 1-2 KEY races and be patient with your fitness. You do not want to peak in May if your KEY race is in August and you do not have to train 20 hours a week in January because you are excited to train after a 4-8 week off season break.

6) After you have selected your key races, decide how you will best utilize your off season and execute the phases of your periodized training plan. Will you use a coach, a pre-built plan or put together your own plan?

7) Before signing up for any race, be sure you have thought about the support you need from family, the time away from work/family for racing/training as well as anything else that will have a positive (or negative) impact on your race day experience. It takes a team to build an athlete but also a great support system to keep you motivated and excited when times get tough.

8) Pick the right course, with the right weather at the right time of the year. Consider indoor vs outdoor training and make sure you can simulate race day in training (ex. pacing and nutrition) well before your race day. A few things to consider about your race, taking into account your weaknesses and strengths:
Swim - wetsuit legel, non wetsuit legal. Lake, ocean. Water temperature. Mass start. In water start. Beach/land start.
Bike - weather. Rolling hills, climbs, flat. Altitude, sea level.
Run - weather. rolling hills, climbs, flat. Altitude, sea level.

Also consider time needed to travel to your event, acclimating to weather/time change or anything else that may affect executing on race day with your current level of fitness.

9) Think again as to why you signed up for your races and be sure to have specific goals for each race that will keep you motivated to wake up every day to properly prepare your body for that race. Be willing to adjust your race day goals based on weather or any setbacks in fitness/training so that you can maintain good health before, during and after your race. Remember - unless you are a professional, training and racing for triathlons is not your job.
10) Have fun with the races you choose. Do not complain about a race that you signed up for and paid money to participate in. Do not stress about things out of your control. Do your research as to how you will get to the race, where will you stay, how long you will be at the race, the day of the race, possible weather for the race, competition at the race (if applicable) and how you will pay for everything. 



To summarize our season - three of our races are Kona qualifiers. 

It is a dream of Karel and I to be able to race in Kona together. 

We will race every race but we do not expect having the chance to Kona qualify at every race we do this coming season.

I realize that the IM distance is exciting but it does take a toll on the body. As an adult age group athlete, I have learned through experience in the past 7 years of racing in endurance races that longer distance races fit the physiology of my body. 

Karel really enjoys the Half Ironman distance. He is still learning about his body now that he has finished 1 full year of triathlon racing (after over 15 years of racing bikes) and has completed one Ironman (IM Placid in 10:03).
I recognized this year that my body did very well with racing two Ironmans close together (within 14 weeks) as oppose to only 1 Ironman a year. Any closer together would be a major strain on my body at this time in my athletic career. I also know I can not race a lot - my body and mind need breaks and time to recover. I want to execute at every race I do and that is why I do not choose to race a lot.

Because of our train smart philosophy, we hope that next year we will be able to execute at every race and recover quickly and after each race we will gain fitness. We don't believe in B races but instead, having a purpose for every race and taking it very seriously as training and racing is not easy, cheap or kind on the body.

Although all of our races are Kona qualifiers, we picked each race for a specific reason..... in addition to the amazing opportunity to travel somewhere exciting.

St. Croix - This race has been on my bucket list for years. We are finally able to make it happen and I couldn't be more excited to share this challenging/beautiful race with Karel and a few of our friends. This race is known as "beauty and the beast" and with our love for challenging courses, I think we will get our money's worth at this race. Our goal at this race is to race strong and leave it all out on the course. I don't mind hot weather and I love hilly courses.  Karel prefers cooler temps over the heat but also love hilly courses. This race will be challenging for us both and we look forward to sharing stories together after the race is over and enjoying a few days on the island to explore a new place.

Raleigh 70.3- Karel is looking forward to this race because he wants to stay sharp this coming season. With this year (June 2012- Dec 2013) being his first year of triathlons, he did not race a lot and would like to race a bit more next year for a solid block of racing and training. As a cat 1 cyclist turned triathlete and over 20 years cycling experience, Karel knew exactly what worked for him in cycling races and in cycling - your fitness is only as good as your ability to keep up with the person in the front of the race.


He would race almost every weekend with cycling, often 2-3 races in a weekend. Now, he is learning more about his body as a triathlete. Although he understands there will be risks taken in learning more about his body, he also knows when to back off.  We will both utilize our season to get as strong as possible with strength training and work on all the little things that will help us be consistent with training. I will not do this race because I know from experience that after we race hard at St. Croix, I can not recover in 4 weeks and race again. Karel will not race Raleigh all-out but instead, use it as part of training to build fitness since he will also need to recover from St. Croix properly to ensure good build after Raleigh for IM Austria. As always, the key to any racing plan is to reduce training stress and the risk for injury. It's easy to train hard but the focus is recovery. You are only as good in training as your ability to recover properly from races/training. This won't be a B race but instead, part of the big plan. The bike course will fit Karel very well and I have a few athletes racing which will be great to help them out. I love NC and I can't wait to see the city after the race.

Ironman Austria - Our first international race! Although one would think this would be a tough course, this race is fast. Similar to IMFL, this would be a great course for a PR. My goal at this race is to have a strong run off the bike as 6 out of 7 of my IM races have included hilly bikes and/or hilly runs. Both Karel and I will race this race as a KEY race. We also know this race is beautiful and we are excited about our first destination race. Lastly, we choose this race because it is 5 hours away from Karel's family and we secured an apartment already at the race venue for his family to come and watch us race (they have never seen a triathlon/Ironman before). We look forward to heading to Karel's home town in Znojmo, Czech Republic after the race. Also, as a coach, I love new experiences to better help my athletes. I'm really excited to traveling internationally for a triathlon and the stress/excitement that comes with it. I'm so excited to visit this part of Europe and take lots of pictures and see the sights for 140.6 miles. We do not expect to Kona qualify here because of the competition in Europe but we will give our best effort for two strong performances. We don't want to chase Kona at the expense of enjoying every training and racing journey so we will do out best and see what happens.

IMWI - This is the race that the entire season is building for. I raced IMWI in 2011 and absolutely LOVED the course which is very challenging on the bike and on the run. But, the crowd support is amazing!! Karel has ridden the bike course a few times during his travels to Trek headquarters and for Trek World and he also spectated with my parents when I raced so he knows the best places for beer, ice cream and coffee (not all together).
The wetsuit swim is perfect for Karel and the cooler temps are ideal for us both to race really strong and not be compromised by the heat. Also, IM 70.3 World Champs is the same day so we feel that this will not be a race where the the field will be super deep for Kona contenders (ex. like it would be for Eagleman, St. Croix and IMFL). That doesn't mean that the day will not have amazing competition (which we both love to help us discover new limits with our own fitness) but we feel like we will be able to race strong, not for a PR, but instead for a Kona slot. The entire season will have this race as the priority so we will be very careful to not peak too early and to also adapt with the least amount of training stress to ensure healthy bodies and mind all season. We love the town of Madison and can't wait to enjoy it with the 3000+ other athletes and thousands of cheering students and fans...many of which will be consuming beverages with alcohol in them :)
I have never repeated an IM qualifier race before so this will be the first time I have repeated a race. There were many IM's to choose from for next year and I love traveling to new courses but we both discussed our options after IM Placid and after long consideration, we decided that IMWI would be the best place for us to put everything together and race smart. We will race to the best of our fitness ability next Sept for a possible 2015 Kona slot.

There's not magic ball or perfect training plan so as I lay out our season, I can not predict the future. The number one goal is to maintain balance in life. Training is not my life but instead my lifestyle. I have respect for the body, I love dreaming big, I fuel off real food, I enjoy a wholesome diet and I enjoy a balanced training plan.

But....2014 will  be a year to remember not only for us.....




But also for our athletes.

The 2014 Trimarni Roster is almost complete and we have an amazing team with new and old athletes to be inspired by. We are so excited to use our knowledge and experience to help others reach goals and dreams.

We will also have new Trimarni services, camps, clinics and events so stay tuned over the next few months!