We asked Phoebe Lebrecht, Vice-Chair of Brighton Tri Club and organiser of Got To Tri triathlon camps, to give us her top tips on how to forward plan race season and her picks for 2017.
When it comes to the triathlon racing season, it is easy to be pulled and stretched in all directions by the choice of races, recommendations of friends and new challenges. We can end up signing up for a number of events without much thought as to whether the format, race length or rest period between events is the best option for us.
To prevent an ad-hoc racing calendar that can result in injury, it is a good idea to take some time to plan your season.
What do you want to achieve in 2017?
Let's start with setting some goals. Whether you are a novice or an experienced triathlete, having some aspirational yet attainable goals can help structure your season and also drive the momentum through to your last race.
Your goals might be to:
Complete your first Triathlon
Place in your Club Championship
Qualify for your Age Group
Hit your Sprint/Olympic/Middle/Long PB
Although you might have a few goals for your season, it is helpful to have one overarching one that is your golden egg. For example, if my #1 goal was to complete my first Triathlon, this would be the primary focus for my season. However, in the mean time I might also tick off my secondary goals; to set a PB at parkrun or complete my first cycling sportive.
Pick your A race
Once you have your #1 goal, you need to choose your ‘A’ race. This will be the main event in your racing calendar. Deciding on this race will help shape the rest of your season.
Here are some things to consider when picking your A race:
When is the race?
Triathlons are typically between May & September. Although you will have been training through the off-season, choosing an early season A race can mean limited outdoor training (unless you live in warmer climates or choose to train abroad in Feb/March). This is compared to a later race — whereby you will have had more time out on the bike, swimming in open water and even squeezed in some racing! Also with an earlier season race, you are more likely to face lower temperatures in and out of the water.
Triathlons usually have early starts, therefore you might prefer a local race that is easy to get to. This would also mean a good nights sleep in your own bed the night before! Or if you decide to go further afield, are there places to stay / camp? Can you transport your bike, kit etc.
Swim & Course
When it comes to the swim, if it’s your first triathlon, you might opt for a pool swim. A great option for novices, swimming in a pool can reduce race anxiety whilst still giving you the opportunity to string your disciplines together.
Want your A race to be in open water but slightly anxious? Make sure to enter a pool swim triathlon as a practice.
If you decide to tackle a race with an open water swim, be sure to check whether it is a lake, sea or river swim — as each body of water comes with different factors to consider.
The bike and run courses will also differ. Some will be closed road, some will be flat, some will have off-road runs and others with laps. Knowing what to expect will not only help with your training in preparation but also with your kit choice (road bike versus TT bike / road runners versus trail shoes).
Larger races are great fun, with huge amounts of energy and buzz but can mean a busy mass start which may not be in your favour as a newer athlete. Local races usually have less participants but still lots of energy — but you might spend a lot of the race out on your own compared to a larger race which will have plenty of support and lots of people to race with.
Friends / Club Triathletes
It’s always fun to race with your friends! Whether you are part of a Tri Club or there’s a few of you with similar goals, choosing the same event can make the whole experience much more enjoyable. Plus a healthy dose of competition can really help on race day!
How much will it cost you to race — including travel and potentially accommodation? Hopefully this won’t hold you back from your dream race but it is an important factor to account for.
Fill in the rest of your calendar
Once you’ve chosen your A race, you can start to plan the rest of your season. On top of training, getting in some racing ahead of your A race is a great way to prepare for your #1 goal.
To ensure you have a train/race/recover balance it is advised to create an annual training plan. With Triathlons running throughout the Summer, it’s a good idea to create a calendar that accounts for your training as well as other commitments (weddings, family events, social engagements). From this, you can work races into your free weekends, making sure to also budget for enough rest!
Spacing enough time between races for recovery is crucial. The longer the race, the more time suggested before the next one.
Throw in some fun!
We might be triathletes, but if you break that down we’re swimmers, cyclists and runners too. A good way to practice those individual disciplines is to throw yourself in to some other races. Whether you choose to enter a 10k run, complete a GoTri series, or you fancy getting out on your mountain bike to sharpen your handling skills, all of these activities will bring even more skill to your triathlon remit. Plus, its good to turn down the heat and race with friends purely for fun sometimes too!
Step back and see the bigger picture
So you’ve chosen your races and planned your season, now it’s time to cross the starting line. As you throw yourself head first into 2017, for your best season yet, don’t forget to come back to your plan.
Stick to it. Respect it. And remember your #1 goal.
Which races would I choose?
Brighton & Hove Triathlon
32Gi Eastbourne Triathlon
Arundel River Triathlon
Throwing in some fun?
Brighton GoTri Series
Tuff Fitty’s Frosty
Brighton's Big Dog