Far too many triathletes attack the sport with the passion of a six-year-old on Christmas morning, doing all they can do get in as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. While this philosophy may seem good at the outset, in the long term this approach will fail miserably, with your body breaking down and your confidence transitioning from optimistic to nonexistent.
Understanding an athlete’s desire to become fit and competitive as quickly as possible, one can easily see how this simple mistake is made. Yet, a triathlete cannot stress enough the importance of slow, moderate work to build a strong, reliable base upon which he can continue to build for the remainder of the competitive season. Whether you are training for your first and only race or working to peak for late season distances, the base you construct early on will dictate how well you fare.
So, leave your ego on the couch, strap on a heart monitor , and get to work. First, you must train aerobically, which means to be active in lower heart rate zones so you can burn fat. Knowing that this phase should take about 12 weeks, you need to exhibit tremendous patience, as training at higher heart rate levels (anaerobic) will force you to burn carbohydrates, which is a different, more limited training type that actually does not work well in competition with aerobic training. If your aerobic base is healthy and complete, you can begin anaerobic training in a more efficient, positive manner, resulting in a far better race day performance.
Because of the low intensity of the aerobic workouts, you may feel as if you are accomplishing next to nothing. However, the base you build within this 12 week portion will pay huge dividends down the line, as your ability to increase training intensity for speed and endurance jumps dramatically, allowing you to see great strides. Select a program that fits your current fitness level and believe in the need for a strong base. If you commit to it, you will find that your season is one that contains little injury and plenty of satisfaction.