A Week of Triathlon Training

I haven’t written much about my triathlon training lately… Not because I haven’t been doing any but mainly because I haven’t had time to fit much blogging in. What with my new job in the Sports and Exercise Department at the University (something else I need to blog about), some painting and decorating jobs that I’m doing, running my website design business and doing all the work associated with that, AND being a house-husband, there’s barely been enough time to play at being a full-time triathlete too, let alone to write about it here.

So to put matters straight, it’s a rest day today for me training-wise so here’s a quick recap of my training over the past week.

Strength, Endurance and Speed Phases

With race season approaching I’m now out of the winter Base Training phase and into a Strength and Endurance Phase. Changing emphasis is one of the nicer aspects of a periodised plan as it allows for a bit of a refresh. Not just physically but mentally too. Gone are the long, easy rides and runs and in comes some slightly harder efforts. The change is subtle as I don’t want to shock my body too much and risk injury but it is time to gradually increase the number of higher intensity workouts and build some strength ready for the rigours of speed work and racing later in the year.

Talking of speed work, I’ve been trying something a little different this year within the meso-scale cycles of my plan. The big picture over the year of ‘Base‘ training, followed by ‘Strength and Endurance‘ and then more ‘Race Specific‘ training and ‘Speed Work‘ has remained the same.

The weekly meso-scale cycles within this of recovery, medium, and high volume weeks has changed a little though as I’ve been mixing it up to hopefully help maintain a little bit of an edge and prevent injury due to sudden changes in intensity. During the base phase I was adding in a week between the medium and high volume weeks with a little more emphasis on strength. I’d therefore do:

  • Week 1: Recovery Base Training Week
  • Week 2: Medium Base Training Week
  • Week 3: Strength Week
  • Week 4: High Base Training Week

The base training would consist of a staple of steady runs, rides and swims just to keep my basic aerobic fitness and endurance going throughout the winter. I ramped these up a little towards the end of the Base Phase so that there was a general progression and increase in volume. The Strength Weeks included a few hill reps on the run and bike, and some fixed gear efforts, plus some work with paddles and tied feet in the pool. The idea was to prepare myself better for the next phase of training so that there wasn’t a sudden change from Base building through to Strength and Endurance work.

I’m not sure if it has worked and I’m not sure if positioning that week between the medium and high weeks was ideal, but time will tell.

Now that I’m in the Strength and Endurance phase I’m doing something similar by interspersing a week with a slight speed emphasis as week three in the meso-scale cycle. e.g.

  • Week 1: Recovery Strength & Endurance Training Week
  • Week 2: Medium Strength & Endurance Training Week
  • Week 3: Speed Week
  • Week 4: High Strength & Endurance Training Week

This past week was just such a speed week.


Sunday was actually the end of my Medium Strength and Endurance week but I thought I’d mention it here as it was a good day of training. It started early as usual with a 7:30am run in Machynlleth. The plan was 5x 3 minute hill reps and I had my eye on a particular hill and more importantly a Course Record on a Strava Segment. I started off with a  15 minute warm up along the main road out of Machynlleth and then headed to Caer Gybi, a steep little hill just outside of town.

I wasn’t sure exactly where the Strava Segment started and finished so I planned to make sure I went just over at each end. It’s about time someone made a GPS watch which allows you to add Strava Segments to it for just such a purpose. A friend of mine Dylan held the Course Record with a time of 3:09, another friend Owain was just behind with a time of 3:13 and I was currently a further 4 seconds down with a time of 3:17. I’d set my time on the segment last week whilst running the whole length of the climb in around 6 minutes so thought I should be able to get closer to 3 minutes if only doing the bottom half. So, not only was the hill climb a perfect opportunity to aim for a Strava Course Record but with a target of 3 minutes it was just the right length for my prescribed workout of 5x 3 minute hill reps.

I started off on the climb. It’s a fairly shallow gradient for the first 100 metres but then it crosses a cattle grid, rounds the bend and kicks up, resulting in a 194 foot climb in 0.3 miles with an average gradient of 11%, but is much steeper than that in places. I pushed fairly hard on the first effort but was saving myself a little for the next one. I hoped to overshoot the end point of the segment a little and pressed the lap button as I did. The time read 3:24. I wasn’t sure if that would be enough, but thought that with the overshoot it might be. I turned around and jogged back down the hill ready for another go.

This second effort was the one that I was really planning on beating the Course Record with, but I wouldn’t know until I uploaded the data. My time with the overshoot was 3:06 – surely enough if I was indeed extending the hill beyond the segment a little? My third rep was a little slower in a time of 3:12 but I did overshoot a bit more just in case! The fourth one didn’t include such an overshoot as I was pretty much spent by now so was only a 3:02 effort. For the fifth rep I had decided to continue on to the top of the hill for a full 6 minute climb in order to finish off the run with an extra 25 minute steady loop. It wasn’t until I got home that I could check the actual segment times and I was pleased to see that I had overshot by quite a way on the segment and had therefore smashed Dylan’s Course Record of 3:09 on all four of my hard efforts. The times I recorded were:

  • Rep 1: 3:04
  • Rep 2: 2:51
  • Rep 3: 2:52
  • Rep 4: 2:57

The fifth rep was quite a bit slower but that was because I knew I had to climb all the way to the top. Not a bad way to start the day.

Next it was off to the pool for a swim session consisting of 5x 600m intervals with the last 200m of each at above race pace. I wanted to do these with a negative split as well so started off fairly conservatively. I actually ended up going pretty much flat out by the last one though with times as follows:

  • 1st 600m: 10:00
  • 2nd 600m: 9:33
  • 3rd 600m: 9:09
  • 4th 600m: 8:59
  • 5th 600m: 8:39

A nice negative split as aimed for and a pretty good time on the last two for me. That was Sunday’s training done and a good day it was too.


Monday’s schedule was a bike session with 8x 3 minute hard efforts. This was the first of my weeks with an emphasis on speed so my first session with any sort of speed work. I decided to stick to the flat roads in and out of Ynyslas, so after a warm up started some 3 minute hard efforts along the Golf Course Straight and the Straights towards Tre Ddol.

I put in a good effort on the intervals, but wasn’t very fast. I still need to do quite a bit of work on the bike I think as I just don’t seem to have any speed on it yet this year.


Tuesday saw my usual schedule of an evening Circuit Training workout followed by a swim session with the INTRtri Club.

Circuits felt quite tough and I was lacking in ‘oomph’, but I still put in a good showing as usual. The swim session was OK too, but nothing special.


Today was the first proper brick session of the season. Prescribed was a 60 minute cycle with a 30 minute Time Trial effort followed by a 25 minute steady run.

I love brick sessions and they often bring out the best in me. The bike started OK with an easy spin out towards Machynlleth. I had planned to take it easy out the Mach and then Time Trial back, but partway there decided to do a Time Trial effort on the Glan Dyfi 10 Time Trial Course instead. I therefore started picking up the speed as I approached Glandyfi and put in a proper effort all the way to Mach and back to Glandyfi. I then kept up a steady pace back home.

I’m obviously not used to pushing hard on the bike at the moment as my heart rate wasn’t quite as high as it should be for a time trial effort. You can at least see that I was trying harder for the Time Trial effort than the rest of the ride though – There should however be some oranges and reds in there to show that I was trying!

Glan Dyfi 10 Heart Rate

Glan Dyfi 10 Heart Rate

I did manage my 2nd best time of 28:07 over the Glan Dyfi 10 Time Trial Course, so it wasn’t too bad, even if it was almost 1 minute off my best time of 27:46

Next up was the run, so after a quick change – not quite a proper transition as it’s still cold so I’m wearing quite a bit more clothing than I would in a race – I was off for a circuit of the Boat Yard Loop. As is often the case in a brick session I went off fast. I don’t quite know why, but I’m always faster running off the bike than I am when I do just a run so I was up and going and going well. In fact I was putting in quite a hard effort, I did think about easing off after the first mile, but decided that I may as well keep going just to see what would happen. It was getting hard now, but this was supposed to be a speed week, so why not. It was about time I started making some sessions hurt anyway.

In the end I completed the Boat Yard Loop in a time of 16:52. Nowhere near my record of 16:18, but still the 2nd fastest I’d ever done. I finished the run off with an easy cool down pleased with the fact that Wednesday had therefore been another good day of training.


A hectic day thanks to work commitments so training started in the pool at 7:15am with a warm up, some drills and then a 400m time trial. The Uni pool is a strange length so it was actually a 414m Time Trial in a not very impressive 6:12. Never mind, ever onwards into 2x 1,000m pull and I finished off the 4,000m swim set with some better 100m efforts and a cool down.

After a day at work I then headed to the gym for a quick weights session before collecting Morgan from Urdd. Once at home I then did an hour of running drills and plyometrics in what was now a very cold damp evening.

Nothing too spectacular today, but I’d managed to squeeze in 3 hours of training of one sort or another.


Today’s session was supposed to be two circuits of the Borth loop on my bike, with a negative split. I started early so as to avoid the rain so headed out into the sunshine and strong winds on my bike, wrapped up warm against the elements. It was pretty cold out there, the roads were damp and my legs were feeling the effects of Wednesday’s hard sessions and yesterdays weights. The first loop was therefore fairly conservative in a time of 45 minutes. Actually, ‘slow’ would be a better word than ‘conservative’ but I had the additional excuse of it being quite windy too.

I did pick things up for the next loop though so competed my negative split aim coming in with a time of 40 minutes.

I then decided to go around again, simply because I think I need to spend a bit more time on the bike. Actually, while I was at it, why not do another two laps? My mind was made up, if it didn’t start raining I was going to do another two laps, and why not make a negative split out of these as well. That’s exactly what I did, lap three was done in a time of 44 minutes and lap 4 in 43 minutes. Both slow, but I’d done 54 miles in under 3 hours so it was now time for breakfast.

Today is Saturday and a well earned rest day and tomorrow will be back to an early morning run and swim session, followed by the Sport Relief Mile with the Scouts. All in all a pretty good weeks training and the slight emphasis towards speed works does seem to have livened me up a little. Next week it’s back to Strength and Endurance work, but with it being a high volume week I’m sure I’ll be looking forward to a bit of rest by the end of it.

2 Responses

  1. mum says:

    Phew! all I managed was getting up in the mornings, eating and then back to bed 😉

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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