Monday, January 6, 2014

The Importance of Using a Training Plan For Your Running or Triathlon Races

Even if you are an experienced athlete it is important to have a solid training plan as you enter the 2014 running or triathlon season. Training plans can be found or developed in a variety of ways:

  • Find an "off-the-shelf" plan that meets your expectations about your goal. This can usually be done by searching online, reading some of the popular running and triathlon magazines or visiting your local library or book shop.
  • Use a plan that you have successfully used in the past if your goals are similar for an upcoming race - you can always tweak the time goals and workouts a little if you're looking to PR.
  • Ask a friend with more experience than you what kind of plan that he or she uses. Sometimes they might be able to suggest a plan source that will work for you.
  • Work with a coach to develop a plan that is more specific to you and your goals. This often goes just beyond training and delves into things like nutrition and emotional support.

Once you have selected or developed your plan it is important to TRY and stick as much to the plan as possible. There will inevitably be days or even weeks where something goes wrong such as sickness, injury or a work project...but it is important to remain committed to your plan and move towards your goal. The following strategies may help you to stay on plan:
  • Schedule your workouts if not scheduled for you by a coach - add them to your daily calendar, post them somewhere where you can quickly access your schedule if need be. 
  • Log your workouts in some fashion. Some people are oldschool about it and keep written training logs while others use tools like Training Peaks, Garmin Connect, Strava, etc to save workout information. If you work with a coach he or she may have a preference for what application you use to record your training. 
  • If you miss a workout don't try to overload yourself on another day. This can lead to fatigue, injury and even burnout from the training workload.
  • If you don't have a coach be sure to have a good support system in place that understands your goals and expectations. Family and friends often make terrific support teams. 
  • It helps to have friends that can serve as training partners but be careful not to adjust your needed workout pace too much on a key workout to accommodate the training friend's pace.
Find your plan, work your plan and make 2014 a great season! And feel free to share any input on plans that have worked for you or someone you know in the comments. It might help someone else to succeed!

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