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Preseason Triathlon Training: The Quality vs. Quantity Cardio Deilemma

There are arguments for both base building and working on speed during preseason. We will address them both and discuss why taking one step backwards in your cardio program may allow you to make bigger gains in 2013.

It’s no secret that you get faster by training faster. And its also no secret that as a coach I am a firm believer in focusing on speed and not hug volume training. Note that this assumes athlete has a strong existing fitness base.

One of the pros to high quality training during preseason is that you don’t have to train big volume in the winter. And for those of you in the Midwest and Northeast it’s actually quite monotonous. I’ve never had an athlete reach out to me in February and say, “You know, I’d really like to log 5 hour Saturdays in my basement on the trainer.”

The biggest con to this strategy is that speed work taxes some of the same systems in the body as strength training. So, if you are trying to focus on building strength and stability in the winter and build speed you have the potential to burn out before the snow even melts.

The real world application is somewhere in the middle. During peak training speed intervals are often buffered with longer rest intervals. If your typical speed workout contained 3 x 7:00 (:30) or 2 x 10:00 (1:00) or 25:00 straight Zone 4 during peak training, then the pre-season plan might be 5 x 4:00 with 3:00 rest or another similar variation. Again, the key is to still include speed work for maintenance while not going crazy with it.

Here are two other personal favorites of mine:
o Strength training followed by speed work back-to-back the same day.
o As a coach I will prescribe intervals as “fast” with no further description to let the athlete self-regulate. If you are sore, dial back. If you feel good, crush it.

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