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Training for a Triathlon with the Spinning® Program–Part 2

Triathlon is a wonderful sport and although we race outdoors, it is possible to prepare for the bike portion of the race indoors with the Spinning® program. The key is to be well informed and ensure that you apply the training focus of your outside bike sessions to your Spinning rides.

In Part 1, I discussed how we use the periodization phases to assist in preparing for a triathlon and applied them to the Spinning Energy Zone™ rides. In this article, we will review how these particular sessions would look for a personalized weekly plan and what each session could consist of with the inclusion of heart rate parameters.

In order to improve your fitness, you must create your annual training plan (ATP). In order to do this, you can work backwards from your race date so you can figure out when your training periods fall. There are a number of ways that you can figure these periods out. One way is to take the weeks per block and count backwards. If you wanted to get super technical, you can use the ATP table from the Training Bible Coaching website. This can be a little tricky, as you have to enter everything manually and it can be confusing if you are not well informed with all the terminology required.

If you want to go a step further, you can join Training Peaks. You pay an annual subscription and you can simply enter all of your personal information, including your strengths, weaknesses, race dates, etc., and it will produce an ATP for you with the periods already built in. I highly recommend Training Peaks for any self-coached athlete.

Once you have your ATP and you know exactly when your blocks are and the duration of each one, you can then assign weeks and months. With a clear overview of what phase you are in for each week, you will understand what types of Spinning Energy Zone™ classes would be suitable for you for that cycle.

Riding indoors is a very viable tool to improve cycling performance for racing when riding outdoors isn’t feasible. This is especially the case in the Base period and early stages of the Build period. But remember, as you get closer to race day, more of your training should be on the road and should be as specific to your race conditions as possible.

Athletes that are training need to spend a longer amount of time on the Spinner® bike than the typical 45 minute to 1-hour Spinning class to mimic the race. Take advantage of the wonderful energy of your favorite Spinning class for the first half of your ride, then stay for the next class or continue to ride on your own. Let your instructor(s) know you are training to race and have specific heart rate parameters and your own profile to stick to. Sit somewhere close to the back where you are not too visible to the other riders, so that you don’t cause a distraction by not doing the exact same movements as everybody else.

I always encourage my riders to put their own goals first and tell them that it is absolutely fine to ride in a different position for whatever reason. Ultimately, it is their ride and their choice. I’m especially happy if a student comes in with their own training parameters, knows exactly what they need and take the initiative to do it. That is ultimately why we train– for our own results.

I also suggest speaking to your instructor(s) and asking them if they could do a specific Energy Zone ride in the future weeks that matches up to your schedule. There is no harm in asking and most instructors are more than happy to accommodate the requests of their participants. If your instructor(s) know what you are training for and what block you are in, they can even give you parameters and ride positions to suit your cycle. They could do this for the entire class or they may even just give you modifications during a ride so it suits your training.

Below I have given an example of a triathlete’s weekly schedule. The first table is for the early stages of the Base period. This is assuming the athlete is training 10-14 hours per week with multiple sessions per day, perhaps training for a 70.3 or even an Ironman® distance.  Please note this is simply an example and in order to create a weekly schedule, you would need to make modifications due to personal factors to ensure that it is correct for you, your training level, fitness ability and time allowance.

Sample Weekly Schedule:

MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN
AM Ride   Long Swim Ride Swim Squad Long Ride Brick Ride/Run
             
PM Swim Squad  Long Run   Run Squad      

Rides per Week:

Day Session Duration
Type
HR
Spinning® Energy Zone™
MON Ride 1 hour Easy ride: Goal is to recover from the weekend training. 50-65%

Recovery/Endurance: Light resistance and higher cadences. Should feel easy.

THU Ride 1–1.5 hours Hills: Building strength at aerobic heart rates. Long steady climbs with sustained effort. 70-80% Strength: Keeping HR <80%.
SAT Ride 1.5–2 hours Long ride: Focus on steady state aerobic efficiency for longer durations. This is the session that will build in length, depending on your race and is the key session of the week. 65-80% Endurance: Pick a number within HR range and stay as close as possible to that throughout session. Mostly seated but stand if required for short periods.

SUN Brick Ride/Run 1.5–2 hours Brick. Efforts on the bike within aerobic ranges, combined with running off the bike. 65-80% Endurance/Interval: Aerobic intervals are longer (at least 5-10 mins) with focus on maintaining constant effort throughout. Recover at 65% MHR.


You can reach your peak condition for your race by using the Spinning® program for your training rides with the following simple steps:

1. Identify when your race is.
2. Indentify your training periods using the ATP.
3. Plan your weekly sessions to suit your work and lifestyle.
4. Choose the Spinning classes on the days that you want to substitute an outdoor ride for an indoor session.
5. Be clear at the start of your Spinning class what your ride focus is, tell your instructor and stick to your plan.
6. Finally, enjoy the best race of your life!

Please note that the above is an overview and a generalized example to give you an idea of how your favorite Spinning classes can be included in your training plan. I would, however, always recommend reading as much as possible on the topic of training for triathlon and even consider hiring a reputable coach. It takes the guess work out of your training and helps you relax and have some fun with the training.

Next month will be the last in this 3-part series and the focus is functional strength training suitable for both Spinning® enthusiasts and triathletes.


Glossary:
Run squad/swim squad: Training sessions done with a group. Squad refers to a triathlon club with a coach that leads the session.

Brick: A session that is a combination of a ride and run done back to back.

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