Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Training Plans

Happy Tuesday Gang!  Nothing is going to put me in a bad mood this week because in 4 days I'm getting on a plane, flipping Old Man Winter the bird, and going somewhere HOT.  WHEEEE.   But first, it's time for this month's edition of Tri Talk Tuesday.  I'm linking up with my co-hosts Courtney and Cynthia to talk about Training Plans.  I don't know about you but I LOVE planning workouts.  After taking my NCCP triathlon coaching certification a few weeks ago, I've been inspired to come up with some new workouts both for myself and my current roster of athletes.  I really enjoy sitting down for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon and mapping out someones training plan and then fine tuning it.   One of the many things I enjoy about coaching for sure.

There are so many options when it comes to training plans and it can be very daunting when trying to pick something, unless of course you're hiring a coach.   There are a few things you need to consider when looking for a training plan.

1.  How much time can you realistically expect to devote to training?

2.  Your current level of fitness.  You have to be honest with yourself!

3.  Timing for your goal race.   How long do you have to prepare?

With the answers to these three questions, you are ready to start your search.

Now let's look at the pile of options.

Free Plans:

There are plenty of free plans on the interwebz that will get you to the finish line but they are generic.  They're not specifically tailored to you and your abilities.  Beginner Triathlete has several plans available online for free.   The big issue here is that they don't really take into account your schedule or current fitness level.  You'll have to figure out a lot of things on your own and if you're just starting out, that can be a little daunting.   Unless you're my husband who trained for his first Ironman using the Triathlete's Training Bible and a lot of guesswork.

Paid Pre-made Plans:

These are plans that may offer a bit more specificity in terms of your ability level and experience.  They are usually put together by a coach and offered up online for a one time fee.   Training Peaks and Garmin Connect both offer options like this as does Tri Fuel  They could be plans based on specific races or geared towards someone who is a strong runner but needs to work on their swimming and biking more.  These are a bit more custom than the free plans offered.  They still may not take into account your schedule so if you miss workouts, you may have to figure things out on your own unless you're able to email the coach to ask for direction.  With some of these plans, limited interaction may be available.

Custom Training Plans & Coaching:

This is the Rolls Royce of training plans.  Plans are created specifically for you by a coach.  They take into account your current fitness level, the amount of time you have available to train and they take the guesswork out of your workouts.  These plans usually involve initial testing sessions to determine where you're at fitness wise and then more testing along the way to see how you've progressed.  When I hired Ming last year, I did an FTP test a few weeks before we started my program.  He then tested me again 4 months later.   I'm sure had I been with him for the year, I would have had at least 2 more tests.  Your fitness level can change a lot over the course of a training cycle.  Having a coach also means that someone else is figuring out the hard stuff for you.  If you miss a few workouts, then you don't have to figure out which ones to do and which ones not to do.  Your coach will tell you. 

Of course, hiring a coach can be an expensive proposition.  There are tons of coaches and coaching services available with prices ranging anywhere from $100/month to $300/month depending on the coach.   Side note:  Both myself and my co-host Courtney are certified triathlon coaches.

How do you choose a training plan?  What are you training for this year?


Courtney@The TriGirl Chronicles said...

High five for being coaches, alright!

I've never actually used a stock training plan I've found online. They never fit my needs enough. Knowing how to write my own is such a blessing, haha.

Maybe someday I'll be able to afford a coach. Someday =P

Krysten Siba Bishop said...

Such great advice! especially about realistic about the time you can commit to training. I always over-estimate the time I have for this!