Season Planning Made Easy

Success in triathlon and life in general, typically starts by setting goals, creating a plan and then executing that plan. We refer to this process as season planning and done correctly, it will help set you up for success.

The fall and early winter are a great time of year to start planning for next season. Races are beginning to open up and many popular races sell out FAST.

Below I will outline a simple, but effective, approach to set yourself up for a super successful year.


1. Establish Goals (& write them down)

First, decide WHAT it is you are setting out to achieve.  It’s important to write your goals down and be as specific as possible. Make sure to include a date or timeline for your goal, otherwise procrastination (among other things) is inevitable.

A few examples of well written goals:

  1. Finish my first triathlon at the Wyckoff – Franklin Lakes Triathlon in June with a smile on my face.
  2. Finish my first iron-distance triathlon at IRONMAN Lake Placid in July by finishing faster than the 17 hour time limit.
  3. Earn a new half-iron triathlon PR by finishing faster than 5:30 at IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City in September. I’ll do this by swimming 35 minutes (1:39/100 yds), Biking 2 hrs 55 min (19.2 mph) and running 1 hr 50 min (8:23/mi) with a total transition time of 5 min. Total time: 5:25
  4. Swim 40 minutes or faster for 1.2 miles at IRONMAN 70.3 Maine. This will be a 1:53 per 100 yard pace. I will be swimming at this pace by the middle of August.
  5. Lose 20 lbs of fat before the Jersey Man Triathlon in May.

When you create your own goals, you can and should add as much detail as possible. It doesn’t mean things are set in stone, but the goal(s) and their specificity will help provide direction and accountability.

Assuming you are hoping to achieve these goals in the year to come, you should also make sure they are realistic given your timeframe. A lot can be accomplished in 1 year, but 1 year is still considered a “short term” goal.

Expectations with short and long term goals need to fall in line with the timeframe you’re working with.


2. Select & Sign Up for Races

Once you have created your goals you’ll want to decide which races you’ll do. You very well may already know what your BIG race will be (it may be included in your goal(s) above), but you’ll want to make sure you sign up for it (or know when registration opens so you don’t miss out).

Additionally, it’s smart to schedule races before your BIG race and potentially after. The races before your “A” priority race will serve as preparatory races and will allow you to get a feel for your current level of fitness, practice nutrition and transition (among other things) – all done in a race situation.

“The Value of A, B & C Races”

Just as I recommenced doing for your BIG race above, plan to sign up for these races NOW. Once you sign up for a race, you are locked in and it helps prevent you from being lazy or procrastinating in terms of your training & preparation.

Then, of course, once you get yourself in great shape and complete your top priority race, you may want to take advantage of your fitness and have fun racing other events before the season ends. Signing up for these races now is less important.

Below are a few general guidelines to consider when mapping our your season:

General Guidelines for Scheduling Races

  • Sprint triathlon ~ 1-2 weeks before an Olympic
  • Olympic triathlon ~ 2-3 weeks before a Half
  • Half triathlon ~ 5-7 weeks before Full (IRONMAN)

Please remember, these are only general guidelines.  Obviously, every athlete is different and there may not be a ton of races that suit your ideal time frame and/or geographical locations.

The most important thing here, is you will want to avoid racing any closer to your priority race than what is suggested above. In other words, I would NOT recommend doing an half 2 or 3 weeks before a full if that’s going to be your “A” race.


3. Determine Your Plan of Attack

Now it’s time to determine your plan of attack. This is essentially how and what you will do to achieve your goals. Whatever your game plan is, it should be unique to you. Just because your buddy is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s right for you too.

Will you hire a coach? Follow a training plan? Or will you self coach and create your own training program? Your experience within the sport as well as the caliber of your goals will play a part in making this decision. Another factor includes how busy / complicated / unpredictable your life is.

“4 Things to Consider When Hiring a Triathlon Coach”

If you’re new to triathlon, you will likely benefit from working on swimming, cycling and running equally. However, if you really stink at 1 of the 3, or if you just want to make significant improvements in a particular area, maybe you plan a focused block of training on a “limiter” of yours. Doing this, will fast-track the improvements you are seeking.

You may also want to incorporate a sport specific strength block of training. This is a great way to help prevent injury come race season, off-set muscular imbalances & boost your durability. It will also add a little extra strength and power to your swim, bike and run ability. Strength training is particularly valuable for athletes racing half and full iron-distance races.

Regardless of what your plan is, keep in mind, it’s only “perfect” on the day you create it. Things change, life is dynamic and family & work demands may increase or decrease month in and month out. With that being said, it’s important for YOU and YOUR PLAN to be FLEXIBLE. How you react and adapt over the weeks and months of training will play a big part in your success or lack there of.


Are you interested in doing something EPIC? We work with a variety people with all kinds of goals. Whether you want to prepare for your FIRST triathlon (or run race), looking to go FURTHER and/or go FASTER. OR simply get in the BEST SHAPE OF YOUR LIFE… we want to help YOU!

Learn more about RTA triathlon / run coaching HERE and contact us for a FREE, no obligation training consult with an expert coach.

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