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5 easy steps to create your endurance training program

An introduction to TOT Endurance training philosophy, which helps you create your endurance training program in 5 easy steps.

Anyone who’s ever met an endurance athlete knows that they can be pretty single-minded – they love training and racing and tend to do it hard and often. However, we don’t necessarily believe that this is a fruitful approach. Yes, training is absolutely vital to success in swimrun and triathlon, but what about the quality of that training? 

Let’s face it, training can be pretty addictive, and most athletes enjoy the rush that they get from pushing themselves. However, like everything, this can become a negative, when done to excess. Unfortunately, we meet with too many athletes that assume that if they are not completely exhausted after each training session, then it was a waste of time. Add to this that it is all too common to train in a somewhat random fashion, without a clear race goal or training plan. 

These problems are often compounded when people are new to endurance sports – training for a big race can be a daunting task and if you don’t do it the right way, then you may find it difficult to achieve your goals or even worse, overtraining and getting injured. Note that the above is very common if an athlete trains without structure.

We believe that we can help – by enabling endurance athletes to add structure, shape, and purpose to their endurance training program. Simplifying the things that you need to do to succeed and then helping to design an individual training plan that will allow you to achieve what you want. Thus, we started TOT Endurance, with its sub-brands TOT Triathlon and TOT Swimrun – to help you to train smarter. 

This is the introduction to our article series on how to create your endurance training program and our philosophy about how we formulate our training plans.

Our training philosophy

We like to think about endurance training as a journey – not the kind of journey that you take to work, when all the matters is getting from point a to point b as quickly as possible, but the kind of journey that you take when you are backpacking, where the things that you do along the way are as enrichening as the destination itself.

Our training philosophy builds upon this insight, seeking to give structure, organization, and purpose to your training and racing season. So that you can be as motivated about the training, as you are about the big challenge at the end of it.

The journey is never easy, whether you plan to compete in triathlon or swimrun, whether the race is short, medium or long, whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned endurance athlete – you’re always going to face challenges along the way. However, those challenges become infinitely more daunting, if you approach your endurance training program in a chaotic manner.

Yet, it’s difficult and time-consuming to come up with a dedicated training plan. We all face real-world demands from family and work, not to mention all the other unexpected things that can spring up over the course of a season. Sprinkle endurance training on top and you have a serious balancing act on your hands. Professional athletes have teams of coaches and other specialists, so they can just focus on their training schedule, but that isn’t available to most people. 

We want to simplify and democratize endurance sports, opening them up to a far larger pool of people – because we passionately believe that with the right guidance anyone can achieve their endurance goals.

This is where our digital service comes in, acting like a digital coach that gives your endurance training purpose and helps you to achieve your goals. It designs an individual endurance training program based on your needs and allows you to take your training to the next level.

5 steps to successful training and racing

If you’re going to balance everyday life with the rigors of endurance training and racing, then you need a plan. This plan can be complicated or simple, but it needs to be realistic and well thought out. To help you discover this plan, we’ve developed five simple steps that will help you define your starting point, your goal, and your journey to get there. We’ll also help you answer how much, how often, and how hard you should workout. Then collate it all into a dedicated individual endurance training program.

In the following articles, we’ll walk you through – 

How to start endurance training – The best way to begin anything is with a realistic assessment of your own abilities – there’s no point in starting an astrophysics course without basic knowledge of maths. The same is true of endurance training, you need to have a realistic understanding of your physical and mental abilities, so you can make a good self-assessment and start at the right level.

Endurance training and racing – Most training seasons revolve around a main race. So, how do you identify it, and what are your training objectives? Do you have a specific time in mind or would completing it be an achievement in itself?

Training volume in endurance sports – You’ll need to slowly build up your capacity over the course of the season, via a series of training sessions. But how many hours do you need to train to achieve your goal – how much and how often do you need to work out?

Endurance training zones – The intensity of your training is vital. Whether you base your training on heart rate, pace or effect, your training zones are the foundation for all training and racing. How hard do you need to work out? How can you avoid overtraining?

Endurance training plan – Most things in life are about quality rather than quantity. Thus, you need to periodize your training. Training for training’s sake is much less helpful than targeted training with a specific purpose. This is why an individual training plan, with different phases, is so important. When do you train what?

Welcome to TOT Endurance

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Individual triathlon training plan

Our free individual triathlon training plan will structure your triathlon season. It will answer how much, how often, and how hard you should train.

Whether you are a beginner and ask yourself – how to start triathlon training? – or a seasoned triathlete or endurance athlete, we know that you want to make the most out of your training effort.

So, for your training to become relevant, motivating, and also to help prepare for an upcoming triathlon race, you are served by an individual triathlon training plan.

How to structure triathlon training?

We help you to structure your training and racing season. Our coaching is based on your experience in triathlon, your current physical capacity, and your goal. Out of this, we provide you with a periodized triathlon training plan.

Your individual training program will then guide you in how much, how often, and how hard you should train.

Sign up for your own triathlon training plan

If you want our help to structure your training, register your information in the form below. We will then send you a recommended structure for free.

  • Background

  • Training

  • Enter the date you think you are ready to start with structured training.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • A rule of thumb: Sprint (6-10h), Olympic (8-12h), Ironman 70.3 (8-14h), Ironman (10-14h)
  • Racing

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
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Training volume in endurance sports

We discuss how much and how often you need to train during your endurance training season, by focusing on the frequency and duration of your workouts.

We all have an unfortunate habit of assuming that more is always better – more knowledge is better than less knowledge, more money is better than less money, a faster car is better than a slower car. This problem is often more pronounced in successful people, who have spent their entire lives doing more and getting more out of the world. However, despite working in many situations, more isn’t always better. More has the potential to lead to a reduction in quality while doing things to excess can also lead to problems such as addiction.


This is the fourth in our series of articles on our training philosophy, check out the others here –

  1. Our philosophy
  2. How to start endurance training – define your baseline
  3. Endurance training and racing – finding your goal
  4. Training volume in endurance sports
  5. Endurance training zones – intensity in endurance racing
  6. Endurance training plan – how to periodize training

Endurance athletes are particularly prone to such thinking – planning to run for 26 miles, swim for 2.4 miles, and cycle for 112 miles, clearly shows that a person sees some value in the concept of more! This often extends to the volume of training an athlete does – it’s only natural to assume that 12 hours training is better than 11 hours training because 12 is more than 11. However, that fails to take a holistic approach to a training schedule – focussing on the quantity of training, rather than the quality of training.

Quantity vs quality

This debate between quantity and quality occurs in numerous other aspects of our lives. We usually come down on the side of quantity, because it’s much easier to identify quantity than it is quality. Imagine that you are working as a manager in a company and you have a choice between two prospective employees – one will do 40 hours of average work a week, while the other will do 2 hours of exceptional work each week and sit around doing nothing for the other 38 hours.

Every instinct in your body will probably tell you to hire, the worker who will do 40 hours each week because that is a greater quantity and thus, sounds better. However, in many cases, you may actually be better off getting the 2 hours of exceptional work, illustrating the difficulty that we have of selecting high-quality over, high quantity.

Volume vs intensity

The debate between quality and quantity in endurance sports can be simply expressed as – training volume (how much and how often) vs training intensity (how hard). Clearly, both are important, and you will never be able to complete an endurance race without some training volume. However, we believe that the intensity of your training is more important than how much you train. We think that you should judge success according to the quality of the training that you do, as opposed to the amount that you do.

So, instead of seeking to increase the amount that you train each week, we believe that you should seek to improve the quality of your training over time. This is why a periodized training plan is so vital, it allows you to improve the quality of your training in a coherent way and gives structure to your overall schedule. Endurance sports are all about doing the right things, doing them right, and doing them right consistently!

Enjoy the journey

This approach will save you time because you won’t have to keep adding volume to your training schedule each week; ensure that you don’t over-train; and allow you to stay motivated for your training each week. Endurance training is a journey, and you have to enjoy the journey because racing is a very small part of your overall commitment to endurance sports.

Every athlete has training they enjoy and training they do because they have to, and they don’t enjoy so much. Do the training you love, remind yourself why you do it and hopefully, it’ll all come good for you.

Alistair Brownlee, double Olympic champion in triathlon

In this article, we will explain the different parameters that you build your training plan around. Examining two of the following ideas in more detail –

  • How much should I train? – Training duration
  • How often should I train? – Training frequency
  • How hard should I train? – Training intensity

So, if we leave the last variable out for now (more about intensity here), and focus on duration and frequency…

Duration

Duration refers to how many hours you can commit to training. This is usually a highly personal decision, which is impacted by your friends, family and work commitments. Only you can know how many hours that you can commit, however, it’s important to be consistent – there’s no point in training 20 hours one week and 0 the next. 

As we saw in the article on goals, you generally need to commit the following numbers of hours a week to training to prepare for a race –

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  • 6-10 Supersprint/sprint
  • 8-12 Sprint/Olympic/Middle distance
  • 10-12 Middle and long distance
  • 10-14 Long distance

However, this needs to be divided over the sports. Typically, for a triathlon, you’ll need to do double the amount of cycling than the other sports – so, if you plan to train for 8 hours a week, then you need to commit 4 hours to cycling, 2 hours to running and 2 hours to swimming.

Frequency

As a general rule, it’s better to train for a short time and often, than for a long time and seldom. As we said earlier, endurance training is consistent work overtime. You have to gradually build your skills and fitness levels to do well in endurance sports.

Thus, your workouts should reflect this – even if you have scheduled your workouts a certain way that is not possible on a particular day – switch it to another day or shorten it so it can fit into your life.

Volume – the combination of frequency and duration

The training volume is what it is. If you have committed to training a certain number of hours on average, that is your base. Try to stick to this base as much as possible, to avoid the damage that can be done by overtraining or undertraining.  After that, you portion it out during your week to work out training frequency. Remember, when you are short on time, the recipe is to train more often (frequency) with a shorter duration, than to save everything until the weekend (less frequent with a high duration).

Finally, you have to take into account the intensity of the workout. Imagine that you are doing a really tough running session on Tuesday morning. Then, we do not recommend that you do another hard session in the evening. If you are doing two sessions close to each other, see to it that they match so that you can get as much out of it as possible. Training volume in endurance sports is very important. Regardless of if you are training for a sprint distance or a long distance, all endurance sports are built around training in higher volumes at a lower intensity.

Start training smarter

Our digital service will help develop a highly individualized training program. It seeks to understand you as an athlete and then help you find the right duration, frequency and intensity for your endurance training journey. If you’re interested in finding out more, then fill in the form below, or sign up and start training smarter.

  • Background

  • Training

  • Enter the date you think you are ready to start with structured training.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • A rule of thumb: Sprint (6-10h), Olympic (8-12h), Ironman 70.3 (8-14h), Ironman (10-14h)
  • Racing

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
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Endurance training zones – intensity in training

The fourth article in our series on endurance sports. We explain what a functional threshold is, how you can use this to measure how intense your workouts should be, and which training zones you should seek to train in.

Intensity levels of endurance training

Training intensity and how to measure it can often seem like an obscure concept that can only really be done by professional athletes and sports scientists. Questions such as “what is the lactic threshold” – appear to be unnecessarily complicated and not worth worrying about during your endurance training journey. However, they’re actually far simpler, than their complex names suggest and play a vital role in ensuring that you make the most out of your training plan.

In this article, we’re going to examine training zones in endurance sports – what they are, how you can measure them, and what they mean, before also looking at how you can implement your knowledge of them into your training schedule.  


This is the fifth in our series of articles on our training philosophy, check out the others here –

  1. Our philosophy
  2. How to start endurance training – define your baseline
  3. Endurance training and racing – finding your goal
  4. Training volume in endurance sports
  5. Endurance training zones – intensity in endurance racing
  6. Endurance training plan – how to periodize training

Functional threshold

The aim of endurance training is simple – to firstly discover your functional threshold, and then improve both the level of it and the period of time that you can operate at it.

So, what is functional threshold?

Your functional threshold is the maximum amount of hard exercise that you can sustain over a specific period of time (usually an hour). When Usain Bolt runs a 100m sprint he is operating significantly above his functional threshold, forcing his body to create energy anaerobically, which produces lactic acid, eventually meaning that he has to slow down. 

Sprint times are an excellent example of just how difficult it is to maintain hard exercise for long periods of time – the world record for 400m is 43.03 seconds, while the world record for 100m is 9.58 seconds. If you multiply the 100m time by four you get a value of 38.32, showing that even the best athletes in the world, can’t operate at maximum effort for around 40 seconds. 

To be an endurance athlete you have to be able to exercise for a lot longer than 40 seconds – meaning that you should forget any notions of going all out, all the time. Instead, you need to discover your personal functional threshold – the intensity of exercise that you can maintain, without having to stop.

How to measure intensity

Training intensity can be measured in the following ways –

  • Perceived effort – A relative measure that can be used for all sports.
  • Tempo – A measure that is usually used for swimming and running.
  • Power – A measure that is used with cycling.
  • Heart rate – A measure that is traditionally used with cycling and running.

Perceived effort

Perceived effort is often measured by the Borg-scale and can be hard to define. It’s a relative measure that allows you to apply a number between 6-20, to the amount of effort it takes you to do a particular activity. The lowest, which would have a rating of 6 would be something like reading a book, whilst the highest, which would have a rating of 20, would be something like the final kick in a sprint race that you really can only maintain for a couple of seconds.

However, there are obviously flaws to this, because our perceptions of how difficult something is can often be incorrect. For example, if you are training with a group, it is easier to get dragged into the “group psychosis” and go with the flow of the group. But, if you don’t have a heart rate monitor, tempo or power meter, then this is your best option.

Tempo

The tempo is measured via the value of speed over a distance. It can be minutes per kilometer in running, time over 100 meters in swimming or kilometers per hour in cycling. This can be a good way of keeping track of your training, but it doesn’t take into account your form on a specific day. 

Imagine that you usually run a 10k in 45 minutes, which gives you a kilometer pace of 4:30 per kilometer. However, on some days, that tempo will be as tough as your usual time splits over a 3k run. You are not suddenly out of shape, but your body is trying to tell you something. Perhaps you have had a bad night’s sleep, are getting sick, or simply have something on your mind that prevents you from focusing? 

We use tempo to measure swim training zones, because it is the most reliable way – heart rate monitors are unreliable in water. This is most commonly expressed as T-pace, which is the amount of time it takes you to swim 100m.

Power

Measuring power is mostly associated with cycling. Though we are seeing a rise of power meters for running, and power meters for swimming exist, but are rare. Your power is measured in watts. Watts is energy over time, fun fact: 1 horsepower is 735 watts. Power helps you to understand the number of calories that you are burning and by measuring the amount of power you produce; you will also gain an insight into how well your cardiovascular system is functioning.

Your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is the maximum amount of power that your muscles can produce, while still being able to remove lactic acid from them. Your aim is to train at this level for a long period of time, which will eventually increase your FTP, allowing you to operate at it for longer.

Heart rate

Heart rate is commonly used to measure your functional threshold for running and cycling. Your aim should be to discover your functional threshold heart rate, which is the maximum heart rate that your body can maintain, while still being able to remove lactic acid from your muscles.

Much like FTP with cycling, you then seek to train at (or below) this level for a long period of time, allowing you to travel at faster speeds over longer periods. Remember, you’re aiming to be an endurance athlete, not Usain Bolt, meaning that your functional threshold will be significantly lower, than your maximum all-out speed.

Using tests zones

To understand where your threshold is, you can do tests. And in our training programs, we regularly do tests in all sports. This is because your functional threshold is specific to each sport, so you might have a higher one for running, then you do for cycling. 

We take test values from –

  • Swimming – Time/100 meter
  • Cycling – Heart rate or power
  • Running – Heart rate or tempo

There is no magical test that will define your functional threshold for all sports. In swimming, you will not be able to get the same puls as in running or biking. And your power on the bike does not apply to your running. That is why you need to do sports specific tests. 

When you have your test scores, it is time to look at what intensity you should train at.

Endurance training zones

Once we have discovered your functional threshold, we will help you break your training down into 5 zones, in each sport, which are defined according to your functional threshold in that sport. We will examine the zones in more detail in a later article, however, as an example for running –

  • Zone 1 – less than 85% of LHTR
  • Zone 2 – 85-89% of LHTR
  • Zone 3 – 90% to 94% of LTHR
  • Zone 4 – 95% to 99% of LTHR   
  • Zone 5 – more than 100% of LTHR

(LTHR – Lactate Threshold Heart Rate)

Training intensity

Most people assume that athletes spend most of their time training in Zone 5 – putting in maximal training effort and reaping huge benefits from it. However, this is totally incorrect – most people should spend little to no time in zone 5, as training in zone 5 for too long, would inevitably lead to burn out or injury. 

You will train in zone 2 for the majority of your training volume, with most athletes spending up to 80% of their training in zone 2. With the remainder divided between zones 3-5. Zone 5 being around 5 – 15 percent depending on where you’re at in your season and your race distance. 

Training in lower zones will give you effect over the whole spectrum. Training in zone 2 and zone 3 will push your functional threshold upwards. This is because of the work done in the lower zones, will widen your range of those zones, and that will help to push your zone 4 upwards. Remember it’s impossible to train in Zone 5 for very long, meaning that the aim of most training programs is to make your scope to go into zone 5 less.  

When doing your training plan, you need to focus on these numbers. If you are unsure about anything in the top end of the zones. We recommend that you focus on zone 2 and zone 4. That will be the most beneficial.

To conclude, your training zones are individual, and not applicable to others. Therefore, you need to keep track of your own progress. Following other people’s training zones, no matter how good they seem, will never help, because your training zones are individual to you.

Do the right thing

We will help you to discover how intense your endurance training should be, allowing you to train smarter. Sign up, today, for an individualized plan that will allow you to add structure and purpose to your training program.

  • Background

  • Training

  • Enter the date you think you are ready to start with structured training.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • A rule of thumb: Sprint (6-10h), Olympic (8-12h), Ironman 70.3 (8-14h), Ironman (10-14h)
  • Racing

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
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Triathlon race day checklist – All your essential gear

Packing list for triathlon

Doing a triathlon race, there is a lot of gear that you need to bring. Combining three sports into one is great, but logistics-wise? Well, it leaves you with something to think about. That is why we created this Triathlon race day checklist for all to download.

You have been training structured and disciplined for months coming up to this event. This is the culmination and reward of all that training! It would be a shame if you find yourself at the race having forgotten something that is essential for your racing. 

Take the chance to win a training program with us, joining our Race time prediction challenge. Where you try to estimate your finish time, the closest person to his/hers guess wins!

There is a lot to think about pre-race. So let us help you take your mind of some of it, helping out with this checklist for packing. Just follow our list, and you will have all the gear you need! 

Examples of things that can be easy to forget. Probably not the bike, but a bicycle pump is really easy to miss in packing. Same with a towel. 

We suggest printing this list and ticking off the boxes while packing. That way, when you arrive at your race, you can focus on your race. Not where you put that body glide.

This packing list is also perfect as inspiration for the beginner triathlete who os thinking about what gear you will need in your adventures in endurance sports.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Alexander Graham Bell

Download our Triathlon race day checklist, and start packing!

Register below for your checklist and minimize your stress when it comes to race day.

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • Choose how many hours you plan to train on an average per week. When you define your training volume, our rule of thumb is, Sprint distance (6-10 hours), Olympic distance (8-12 hours), Ironman 70.3 distance (8-14 hours), Ironman distance (10-14 hours).

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Predict race time challenge – win triathlon coaching

Predict race time challenge

We challenge you to predict race time in your upcoming triathlon competition.

You can’t help but wonder what your finish time will be in your next big event. It is in your DNA as an endurance athlete. Whether your ambition is to accomplish, to make a personal best, or to stand on the podium.

Since all sorts of competitions are great fun, we challenge you to predict race time in your upcoming triathlon competition.

The two of you who are the closest between guessing and your actual finish time in each race, based on the official results, will win a Keep Up Triathlon BASE or a Keep Up Triathlon BUILD.

Everything is possible

What we believe is extra fun with our challenge is that everyone, regardless of qualifications or ambition, can participate and win. The ability to guess your end time right is more tied to the knowledge and insight about your actual capacity than to how fast you are as a triathlete.

The triathlon competitions included in the list below (we update the list on a regular basis) are part of our challenge. It is an ongoing challenge where there are winners after each triathlon competition.

So place your bet!

Rules

If you DNF your triathlon competition, you are not considered in our challenge (for that particular race).

You can submit your predicted finish time to all the triathlon competitions that you participate in.

If you register more than once per triathlon competition, the last record will be recognized.

You submit your guess via the form below, no later than the day before the actual triathlon competition.

The day after the triathlon competition, we send out a link so that you can report your official end time. Make sure to do so within two days.

Predict race time

Take part in our race time challenge via the form below.

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Endurance training plan – how to periodize training

How to plan your season and training

We like to think about endurance training as a journey – and all good journeys have some kind of plan, otherwise, you will never reach your final destination. To complete this journey, you’ll need to structure it over periods, so you get sustained improvement in performance over time. Starting slowly, and gradually building your fitness, in preparation for your main race.


This is the sixth in our series of articles on our training philosophy, check out the others here –

  1. Our philosophy
  2. How to start endurance training – define your baseline
  3. Endurance training and racing – finding your goal
  4. Training volume in endurance sports
  5. Endurance training zones – intensity in endurance racing
  6. Endurance training plan – how to periodize training

When to start training

Training begins in relation to your main race, counting back from race day in your calendar. The first couple of weeks is not race-specific and is all about holistically building your fitness levels. Then, as your main race approaches, we crank it up and start to get sport and race focussed. We’ll set sub-goals throughout these periods, giving focus and structure to your training plan throughout. One such sub-goal might even be to get into structured training, which we often find is especially useful for people who are new to endurance training.

You must begin your training slowly and gradually build into more intense workouts. You have to give your body time to ease into the workload, or you put yourself at risk of overtraining, injury or burnout.

How to periodize training

You need to divide your season into different training blocks, which each serve different purposes, and all help you build towards your main race goal. Each training block is defined by their intensity and volume.  It’s important to remember that it’s impossible to maintain peak fitness throughout the season, thus your aim should be to reach peak fitness at the right time.

Base training, your pre-season

All athletes need a pre-season that is defined by volume rather than intensity. It’s all about building a solid base of endurance, which will allow you to train more intensely later in the season. Just the same as footballers or basketball players need to gradually build their fitness ahead of the real season so too do endurance athletes. If you don’t go through this stage and head straight into intense training, then you run the risk of burnout or injury.

Build training, getting into race season

After the initial period of workouts focusing on your endurance, the second training block focusses on building muscular endurance. This means that you will work out at a higher intensity, and if we add intensity to the training, then we need to take the volume back a bit. Your body won’t be able to go all out during every session.

Race season

Your last training block will be race-specific – seeking to help you get into race shape and be able to do each sport at a race-specific speed. The final weeks before the race will focus on form and race prep.

After racing

Many people fail to recognize the importance of what happens after a race. You cannot keep your body in peak condition throughout the year, meaning that you have to take a step back and allow yourself to ‘become slow’ again. The aim of your training plan is to peak at your main race. Then, you need to let your body relax and start building your base fitness level, which will allow you to get better.

How we periodize our training plans

Our individualized endurance training plans (be it for triathlon, swimrun or any other endurance sport) are 12 weeks per macrocycle. They are available online and seek to increase volume or intensity, week by week.

Pre-season

Our pre-season training plan follows cycles of 3 weeks of ramping up (volume and intensity), followed by a recovery week. Many endurance athletes underestimate the value of pre-season, mistakenly assuming that they will somehow magically be prepared to go all out from the start. We don’t fall into that trap, incorporating a dedicated pre-season schedule into all our training programs, which ensures that you’re in tip-top shape at the right time.


Examples of pre-season training programs –


Race-specific programs

Our race-specific programs build volume over three weeks and then have a recovery week. The final two weeks have less volume but are very race-specific. This race program brings together insights about duration, frequency, volume and intensity to help you achieve the goal that you set at the beginning of the season.


Examples of race-specific training programs –


Recovery weeks

Our recovery weeks keep you active while allowing your body to recover in a structured way. Recovery is not about doing nothing! It’s about consolidating the fitness gains that you have made over the course of a season.

Test weeks

We also build test weeks into our training plans. The main reason that we do this is – that it allows us to calibrate your training levels continuously, so you always train with purpose and the right intensity. For more information on this, why not take a look at our article on training intensity. Test weeks also allow you to track your progress, keeping you motivated during the long endurance season. Finally, tests put pressure on you, which is the best way to replicate the feeling that you get on race day.

B/C races

You can also swap one of the test weeks for a B- or C-race, offering another way to test your progress.

Do it right with a training plan

We passionately believe that our digital service will allow you to structure your race season better, and train smarter. Endurance training is all about doing the right things, doing them the right way, and doing them right consistently, and it’s impossible to do that without a plan. Our periodized training plans utilize the best available training practises to enable you to achieve your dreams.

So, don’t delay, sign up or fill in our assessment form today and add purpose to your endurance training program!

  • Background

  • Training

  • Enter the date you think you are ready to start with structured training.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • A rule of thumb: Sprint (6-10h), Olympic (8-12h), Ironman 70.3 (8-14h), Ironman (10-14h)
  • Racing

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
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Endurance training and racing – finding your goal

The second part on how to plan your endurance training. It shows you how to target races and set goals for your endurance training and racing season.

Goals are fundamental to success in everything – but are especially important to difficult things such as endurance training. They inspire us to be better and the thrill of achieving them will help you during the inevitable moments when you want to give up. We like to think of endurance training and racing as a journey, and a journey without a goal is unstructured and chaotic – possibly the worst way to approach endurance sports.


This is the third in our series of articles on our training philosophy, check out the others here –

  1. Our philosophy
  2. How to start endurance training – define your baseline
  3. Endurance training and racing – finding your goal
  4. Training volume in endurance sports
  5. Endurance training zones – intensity in endurance racing
  6. Endurance training plan – how to periodize training

Most endurance athletes like to structure their season around a specific end of season race, and then use the rest of the season to prepare for that main race. You don’t necessarily need to want to win that race or aim for a specific time, and for many, the fact that they are competing at a particular level is enough of a goal in itself. Success is relative – changing from season to season and athlete to athlete, just the same as you need an individualized training program to achieve your goals, you also need an individualized aim that is specific to you as an athlete.

Define your main race

In our previous article, we examined how to get to know yourself better as an athlete. Now, we’re going to look at how you set realistic goals for your endurance training and racing. The goal will be your main race, often called your A-race. So, let’s start by defining that. If you don’t know which competition you will have as your main race, then use the information in this article to find a competition that motivates you.

Just be patient. Let the game come to you. Don’t rush. Be quick, but don’t hurry.

Earl Monroe

How to work out how much you need to train for a race

If you want to be an endurance athlete, then you must be willing to commit a certain amount of time to training each week. Figure out how much time you can spend training each week and use that to inform the goal that you choose. 

We think that the following values function as a benchmark for your commitment to endurance training each week:

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  • 6-10 Supersprint/sprint
  • 8-12 Sprint/Olympic/Middle distance
  • 10-12 Middle and long distance
  • 10-14 Long distance

Use these numbers as a rough guide – some people may need to train more, others less. It also depends on what you want to achieve in your particular race and how much endurance training you have done before.

Make your goal tangible

Then, you need to make your racing goal specific and quantifiable – honestly consider whether you simply want to participate in the race (try it out and finish the course), perform (perform a personal best), or compete (win your age group). 

For example –

  • Participate – To complete an Ironman distance triathlon race.
  • Perform – Complete an Olympic distance triathlon in 2 hours, 40 minutes.
  • Compete – Win the 45-49 age group in a Sprint distance triathlon.

How to develop specific training goals

The next stage of the process is to develop specific training goals, which will allow you to achieve your main race goal. 

So, for example, if you want to complete an Olympic distance triathlon in 2 hours, 40 minutes, you might develop the following training goals –

  • Milestone I want to be able to swim 1 kilometer in under 20:00 two months before the race, and for that, I need to improve my swimming skills.

Secondary race goals

In addition to the season’s regular testing, it can be a good idea to sign up for some preparatory competitions (B-races and C-races). The main purpose of these is to test your sub-goals, but they also allow you to practice putting all of the disciplines together. Competing in a race normally does wonders for performance and will allow you to really understand where you are on your endurance racing journey. 

The three levels of going into a competition, as written above, participating, performing and competing, can also function as a build-up to your main goal. We often find that it’s useful to plan over several years. Your long-term (3 year) goal might be to participate and perform in an Ironman 70.3 (half Ironman distance). While your mid-term goal (2 years) might be to finish the same distance (A-race) and run several sprints (B-races) to fine tune. While your short-term (season/1 year) goal might be to begin a structured training program and to complete an Olympic distance race.

You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.

Michael Phelps

Bring order to your training

Our digital service is designed to help you achieve your dreams, by bringing order and structure and to your endurance training program. Setting goals is a vital part of this process, allowing us to create an individualized training program that will enable you to achieve your racing aims. If you’re ready to get started straight away, then sign up! Or check out the form below to begin the journey to make your endurance racing dreams come true!

  • Background

  • Training

  • Enter the date you think you are ready to start with structured training.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • A rule of thumb: Sprint (6-10h), Olympic (8-12h), Ironman 70.3 (8-14h), Ironman (10-14h)
  • Racing

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • Other

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How to start endurance training – define your baseline

Post one of five in our guide to start endurance training. We help you to start your journey, by showing you how to assess your physical and mental fitness.

We like to think of endurance training as a journey, which is as enrichening and beneficial to you as the final destination. Like any journey, if you do not know where you are, then it’s going to be much more difficult, or even impossible, to reach your end goal. It’s crucial that you discover the right starting point for your endurance training journey, or you risk failure. 


This is the second in our series of articles on our training philosophy, check out the others here –

  1. Our philosophy
  2. How to start endurance training – define your baseline
  3. Endurance training and racing – finding your goal
  4. Training volume in endurance sports
  5. Endurance training zones – intensity in endurance racing
  6. Endurance training plan – how to periodize training

It’s analogous to starting school – if a child is placed in a class with students that are five years older than them, then they’re probably not going to be able to do the work and will quickly become discouraged. While, if the same child is placed with younger students, then they will probably find the work too easy and get bored. In both situations the school has failed to define the right baseline for the child, leading to problems.

The same is true when you start endurance racing if you pick a training program that is too easy, then you’re likely to get bored and probably won’t be where you need to be for the big race at the end. While, if you select a training program that is too difficult, then you might become discouraged and give up.

The essence of endurance training

To begin with, you need to understand a little bit about the essence of endurance training – namely, consecutive, hard work, over a long period of time. There is no secret sauce, shortcut, or quick fix, the only way to achieve the things you want and be successful in your race is via commitment. If you’re new to endurance sports and want to do a long-distance race, then your training may stretch over several years. But you can also train for a couple of months and do a sprint distance.

Ways to define success

Many people have a limited idea of success in sport – believing that winning is the only thing that matters. However, we believe that this approach is fundamentally flawed, when it comes to endurance sports and like to think about success in three levels. The first, accomplish, means that you finish a race, the second, Personal Best, means that you perform better than you ever have before, and the third, Podium, means that you compete and try to win the race.

You are unique

We’re all unique, with different bodies, minds, and prerequisites, meaning that a one size fits all training plan will never work. Your training plan needs to be highly individualized, if you’re going to succeed, giving shape, structure, and purpose to your endurance training schedule.

How to define your endurance training baseline

To define your baseline, we will look at the following aspects –

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  • Your mental makeup – Endurance training is as much mental as it is physical. No matter how fit you are, there are going to be moments when every fiber of your being tells you to stop moving. To be a successful endurance athlete, you must be able to overcome these mental obstacles. 
  • Your physical makeup – Some people are natural endurance athletes and others have to work hard to become one. Whichever is this case for you, your physical makeup will have a profound effect on how you start endurance training.
  • Your abilities – Your abilities define, which skills you need to train. For example, if you’re an excellent cyclist but an average swimmer, then you may need to work harder on your swimming skills to complete a triathlon.

Mental Makeup

Regardless of your starting point and your goal, endurance training is all about commitment. You have to be willing to spend hours doing repetitive exercises over a long period of time – it’s impossible to avoid! For that to work, you need to have a balanced and positive mindset in combination with the right ambitions for you as an athlete.

Here are three questions that you need to think through before you start training.

  • Why endurance sport, and not something else? – An old saying states “A dog is for life and not just for Christmas” – trying to teach prospective pet owners that the amount of care and commitment that goes into owning a dog extends far beyond the period when it’s a cute puppy. The same is true of endurance sports, they don’t work as a one-month new year’s resolution that you can stop and then pick-up again. They take immense commitment and effort, which is why you really have to do some soul-searching and decide whether they’re right for you. 
  • Am I willing to put the hours into training that is required? – If you’re not willing to put in the work, then you’ll fail.
  • Do I have the necessary support from friends and family? – Endurance training is hard; you’ll need plenty of emotional support from your friends and family to succeed. You need to have their support, or you will feel guilty when you train and end up working out in secret. Thus, we encourage truth and honesty from the start, because it may save you many problems further down the line.

Gain approval

Our goal is for you to succeed, and for you to succeed, you need to prepare yourself and your loved ones. Your capacity to reach your goals is dependent on support from those around you. As Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge puts it: “100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the entire team”.

100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the entire team

Eliud Kipchoge

Physical aspects of endurance training

Again, endurance training is repetitive. Sometimes you do the same thing over and over for hours on end. Your body’s capability to cope with the workload will increase over time during the unbroken sequence of workouts. 

At the start of the season, we recommend that you do an initial test of functional strength and mobility. We do that because we believe that finding possible imbalances, or weaker spots at the beginning of the season can help you put together a strength routine that will help reduce the risk of injury.

Here are three questions that you need to think through before you start training.

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  • Do I have any previous (sports)injuries that need treatment? If you do, then that could derail your season, or you may need an individualized training program that puts less stress on the previously injured part of your body. 
  • Which, if any of my physical prerequisites can limit me? Understanding your physical limits are vital to success, obviously, you want to challenge them, but you need to do this in a structured way that avoids the dangers of injury and overtraining.
  • Do I need any special gear? Special running shoes or a bikefit? You need the right equipment if you’re going to be successful, it’s best to think about that as early as possible.

For you to reach your goal, it is important that your physical and mental abilities correspond with your ambition.

Personal abilities

To better understand who you are as an endurance athlete, the next thing to do is to map out your background as an athlete. To start, try to fill out the form below.

Fill out the form in comparison to others you can compete with.

SPORTSLOWSOMEWHAT SLOWSOMEWHAT SLOWFAST
Swimming
Cycling
Running

This should give you a rough idea of what you need to improve on, early on. It’s important to be realistic about your abilities, because if you overestimate or underestimate, then you may find it difficult to correct your training further down the line. 

In a continuous effort to better understand your athletic profile, let us pose some statements regarding endurance, power, and mobility.

How well do the following statements fit you?

  • I am stronger at the end of a workout compared to my friends. I prefer longer races. (Endurance)
  • I have more muscle mass than others my age. I prefer to bike on a heavier gear with low cadence. (Power)
  • I am better at shorter intervals. I run with a high stride count, 180 strides per minute or above. (Mobility)

With this knowledge, it is much easier to calibrate your training based on your athletic profile. Say that you score high in endurance, but when it comes to biking or running uphill, you get tired. That would mean that you maybe need to focus on your power, training more muscular stamina (if that is your goal of course). As you define your goals and choose where you want to compete you should consider what your strengths are.

Next step

Now that you have some idea of where your baseline is, it’s time to examine “endurance training and racing” – most endurance seasons lead up to a big race and we want to help you to identify yours. Make sure that you check out the form below, which will help us to develop a plan that will help you to train smarter during your endurance training season.

  • Background

  • Training

  • Enter the date you think you are ready to start with structured training.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • A rule of thumb: Sprint (6-10h), Olympic (8-12h), Ironman 70.3 (8-14h), Ironman (10-14h)
  • Racing

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • Other