By Coach Troy Jacobson

Training for triathlon is a year-round process as one season rolls into another. Your focus shifts from aerobic base development, to building strength, endurance and power, to sharpening and tapering for a key event. The competitive season, defined by most triathletes in North America as May through October, can be especially long and wearing on the body — both mentally and physically — leading to potential injury, overtraining or burnout. If this sounds like a familiar scenario to you, it might be time to consider a mid-season refresh.

Typically, competitive triathletes attempt to peak twice in a given season, with the first peak occurring in the first half of the summer and the second peak occurring late in the season. This strategy is smart, and if scheduled properly with a recovery block of training, it can help take the athlete to the next level of performance for that season-ending championship.

The mid-season refresh is simple to execute but sometimes difficult to accept by serious competitors. Backing off on volume and intensity when one is near peak form is hard to do, but the rewards are substantial in terms of coming on strong late in the year.

Mid-Season Refresh Instructions
After your first “peak” event mid-season — typically in the June or July timeframe — take a few days (defined as anywhere from 3-5 days) off from regimented training. You can exercise for “fun,” what I call “wildcard workout days,” but don’t do anything structured, long (over one hour in duration) or challenging.  Sleep in, avoid your tri club’s track, swim workouts, or fast group rides, and just take it easy on your own, opting to throw the ball around with your kid rather than crank out the miles with your training partners.

After your wildcard workout period of a few days, resume sports-specific and regimented training but with little or no intensity, and with fairly low volume (50% of normal workloads) for another week or more as needed. Enjoy your training while allowing your body to readapt to your disciplined routine. After this phase, start reintroducing some interval training into your program while ramping up your overall volume to almost normal levels. At this time you should be ready, motivated and hungry to dive back into hard training.

By allowing for a mid-season refresh program of 2-3 weeks as described, you’ll realize a newly found sense of excitement and energy as you prepare for a strong season-ending “A” race. Give it a whirl this season, and see the difference it can make!

A former pro triathlete and coach since 1992, Troy Jacobson is the creator of Spinervals Cycling and the Sr. National Director of Endurance Sports Training for Life Time Fitness. Learn more at www.lifetimeendurance.com.