These are a selection of notes applicable to beginners and the plans drawn out for amateurs. They cover topics that I commonly receive queries about.
In order to create the plans I have done lots of research on various web resources and books and information gathered from other experienced athletes. They are most infuenced by Joe Friel’s Triathletes Training Bible and Your Best Triathlon. A great youtube resource regarding cycling is the channel GCN.
Exercise zones in terms of rate of perceived exertion or RPE. I always suggest a HRM for more subjective measurement but many people ask about this regardless. Beginners can treat Zone 5a, b, and c, as one zone (The red zone). And it can be one to stay away from
Z1 – Recovery
Very easy slow jog. Can even be walking. You can easily catch your breath and feel your heart rate coming down.
Z2 – Easy
This is your long and easy run pace. Easy to hold a conversation and talk in full sentences. Not much of a burn in the muscles but you should feel like you are exercising.
Z3 – Tempo
Here you can sustain the pace for medium duration 3-5 hours, but you start to feel a burning sensation in your muscles. Talking in full sentences is not easy and you tend to cut your sentences short to catch your breath. Needs some focus to maintain.
Z4 – Hard
Here you can only give one word answers and you feel a distinct burn in your muscles. Heavy breathing. Have to concentrate hard to maintain this effort.
No talking here and you can maintain this for 20 min to an hour max. Tough and taxing on the body. Need to recover after a workout at this level.
3 to 5 mins max effort level. Referred to as VO2 max. Breathing as hard as you can this level is known to be associated to the maximum amount of oxygen your muscles can use during an extremely hard effort. Only at an advanced level of training (after 3 months consistent training for athletes with a year of running experience at least) should athletes attempt intervals here.
Absolute max effort used for sprinting. Can only hold it for a few seconds. Think about a 100m sprinter. Or final sprints in cycle races.
Technique drills are things a swimming instructor or a friend can show you more of, but a few examples which you can YouTube are
- Fist drills (swimming with a closed fist)
- One arm freestyle swimming
- Spear drills
- Breathing on both sides
- Catchup drills
Typical examples are 5 sets of 50 meters of fist (5×50 fist) Or 3×50 catchup Some very important drills for beginners to open water swimming are:
- Penguin Drill
- Slapping Drill
- Belly to Wall Drill
- Windmill Drill
- Sighting Drills
Do them in that order, master one before moving to the next. Speed Drills are simply sprint type drills where one tries to incorporate the techniques learnt and swim as fast as possible. An example of a speed drill is: 5×25 with 30seconds rest.
A brick workout is a workout that immediately follows another workout. Typically a run following a bike. I also have bikes following swims.
Z2 LSD: Long Slow Day in your heart rate or power zone 2.
Z2 base is short but at the same intensity described above. It is a base building run which minimises the risk of injury and simply gets the body joints and muscles conditioned or re-conditioned for running or cycling.
Boring but necessary especially for beginners.
Recovery, & Nutrition
The plans are never set in stone.
BUT REMEMBER IF ONE THING IS SET IN STONE, NEVER DO MORE THAN THE PLAN SUGGESTS. Rather do less.
DO NOT FEEL A COMPULSIVE URGE TO ADD MORE HIGH INTENSITY WORKOUTS IN.
Resist the urge to race in group rides or runs. If one thing can be said to destroy a season, it is doing too much (whether it is too much time or too much intensity, too much is too much). Resist your ego, resist the temptation to be the one to log the most hours on Strava, or capture the most segments or whatever else it is that causes you to do too much.
LESS IS MORE. You will benefit from extra rest and recovery.
Recovery usually means an easy workout to stimulate the body to adapt to a previous harder workout. Some say there is no such a thing as a recovery run. Running is the hardest of the three disciplines on the body and only well adapted athletes can do recovery runs. For most athletes rest is necessary after hard blocks. Usually a day or two of doing absolutely nothing. Except perhaps baking. Unless baking is stressful. Just relax. Maybe watch a movie. These two concepts, rest and recovery are essential for the body to rebuild, to gain strength from the training loads. Do not let the warnings of fatigue plague you. Try to keep off your legs as much as possible and only use them for your workouts. “Don’t stand if you can lean, don’t lean if you can sit, don’t sit if you can lie down. Sleep as much as possible. 8+ hours per night is ideal. An afternoon nap is also ideal. There is no such a thing as “catching up sleep”. Pro athletes take more than one nap a day. Naps are for legends. Babies take naps because they are adapting and growing all the time. Is this not what we want to do, adapt, grow, strengthen? TV and phones also increase the time it takes to fall asleep. Just leave them out about an hour before bed. This means if your last workout finishes an hour before bed, no TV. Have your recovery meal/shake, shower, maybe a warm cup of chamomile tea, brush your teeth, and go to bed.
The most neglected part of recovery is nutrition.
Great and talented athletes neglect this one aspect and they will probably never reach their true potential because of simple lack of discipline. The food we eat is what we are using to rebuild the muscles we break down during training. It is as simple as that. The basic rules are a quick recovery meal/shake with carbs and protein (chocolate milk is an easy example of this, however, you could eat a banana with some peanuts, or have a juice and have an almond butter sandwich) within the first 20 mins after the workout, and a proper balanced meal with slow release carbs (like brown rice or brown pasta with some protein and healthy fats) within 2 hours after this. People spend time researching the best drinks for the bike leg, the best energy bars, but they neglect this aspect of eating on time pre- and post- workout and also their general diet. This only means they arent getting the most out of their training. Your body will repair on junk food, but not optimally. If you want to train optimally, then eat optimally. Risk of injury, illness, and fatigue are all also very closely related to diet and there is no supplement in the world that will be able to replace a balanced, healthy, and smart diet. We need carbs, fats, and proteins, we need vitamins and minerals. It is the way we were designed. A good diet translates to a good state of mind and well being. We feel bloated on junk food. A cliche example is a high performance car needs high octane fuel. Are you a high performance car? Convenience in supplements isnt the same as the productivity achieved in eating real healthy food. Experiment whether a high carb or high fat diet is better for you, for most athletes, a high carb diet is chosen because it is easy to maintain and proven to work. Recently, high fat diets are gaining popularity. Every person is different, and different things work for different people; the main point is to stay away from processed foods, junk foods, and eat on time. Pre workout, find what works for you. I have a bowl of oats, easy to prepare and come by anywhere I go. Experiment with how well you recover after hard workouts with different foods. Experiment with how well your workout goes with different foods pre workout. Before bed it is beneficial to have protein so that the muscles have what they need to rebuild and it has been shown to enhance sleep. Replace fluids, electrolyte mixes are readily available. When we exercise we perspire and need to replace the lost fluids. This is important during exercise, afterwards we usually feel thirsty and will automatically drink to refill. Other recovery aids are secondary when considering how important sleep and food are. Compression, foam rolling, elevating legs, massage, all are shown to aid recovery, but their benefits are small when compared to the two big ones.
Usually we do 3 sets of 10 of each exercise in a workout with about 1 min recovery between each set, however, it is also recommended to do one exercise immediately followed by the next exercise and rest after the muscle groups are all worked in a circuit form of training. Using this method (which is a bit more advanced), we do 3 circuits for a challenging workout. These are not the only exercises and are just a few useful ones. You can also add plyometric work to the exercises (eg. jumping squats or lunges or push-ups). If any of these exercises make no sense, YouTube them or ask a friend to show you in the gym. Many people use the Fitness Blender and Darebees Channels on YouTube for circuit type training workouts.
On the chest, back, and arms day:
- Bench press or pushups (many variations are possible)
- Lat Pull Downs or Pull Ups
- Weighted Rows (Machine or Free Weights)
- Bicep Curls or Chin Ups
- Tricep Dips (Bodyweight or Free Weights)
On the legs and core day:
- Squats (Body weight or Free weights or One Leg)
- Lunges (Can use weights)
- Glute Bridge
- Plank (many variatons to make it challenging)
- Russian Twists
- Hanging Leg Raises
- Side Bridges and Planks
Full Body Exercises:
- Burpees (with the pushups)
- Lunge with added bicep curl
- Dead-lift to Power Clean