An annual training plan is a tool we use with all our athletes to provide a road map for the individual athlete’s training season.  It doesn’t have to start in January and it can be 3, 6, 8, 12 or 24 months long depending on your short term and long term goals.

It is a visible overview of your year or 2 years and it is not set in stone. It is meant to be flexible as unexpected events occur like family or work trips, illness etc.

The ATP is the next step after we have created our DUMB goals – (read about that HERE!)

Having the goal is one thing but creating the methods and routines to be able to achieve that goal is imperative. You can’t just write out the goal and hope it happens!  Especially in a physical sport like triathlon.  We must take action.

SO to set up your ATP  we pick A, B and C races to fill in with dates on the calendar.

A race = the BIG KAHUNA! the race you want to be in your best shape ever, the dream race where everything comes together and you have a PR- Personal Record. You can pick 1-3 A races but I don’t recommend more than that because its hard to peak more than 3 times in a year. Experienced athletes can peak more often.  Sometimes athletes race just to cross the finish line and others have a goal time or to get on the podium, qualify for a national or world championships.

Depending on the length of the race and your current fitness level you need a certain amount of time to achieve the physical fitness to achieve the goal of an A race.

Sprint and 5k, 10k races obviously require less time to get fit, and Ironman more time.

B races = 3-8 races you still want to do well in. These are races you can test your progress and see what you need to work on.

C races = unlimited- but be careful, you can over do it. These are training races or single sport events like super sprint triathlons, Swim Miami, 40K time trials, 5k’s and 10k’s running races. Entering 5k ,10k and 13.1mi running races is a great way to test your fitness and perform fresh (without running off the bike) leading up to your goal triathlon. Similarly, swim events and bike time trials or century rides can all improve fitness while still getting you used to the feeling of race day competition without the pressure to have your BEST performance. So peppering several B and C training events is really important. It helps you pinpoint where you need to work based on the performance during the B or C race. Sometimes I will have athletes even do a race with no tapering or recovery leading up to the race just to over reach and see how the body responds. Other times it will be a true test race doing everything we will do on the A race day and see where the fitness level is and if the athlete is ready or needs more skill, strength, experience etc for the BIG A RACE.


Be sure to also include regular testing in Swim, Bike and Run to see where you are starting from and then every 6-8 weeks to see if the training you are doing is working well and you are in fact improving. Learn about the tests I use in the webinar link at the bottom. To measure is to know, if you are not assessing you are guessing!- video and performance tests, lab work or field testing all need to be included in the ATP.

Include strength training – prevent injury build strength, move in different directions other than just forward.


Periodize the ATP – as you get closer to the race the more similar your training will be to race day, but this is where the art and science of coaching come in.  There are lots of different ways to do this. These are terms that I use, but others do exist.Base


Taper/ Rejuvinate

The coach you work with will create a system they believe works best, but a general rule is to have some sort of base before you go out and do speed work so you don’t get injured, but after that there has been tons of research that a linear or stair step progression is not the only way to achieve success.  I don’t subscribe to volume in the speed phase and base and build phases will include speed and anaerobic capacity.  I also wait to build volume until much later in the season to keep athletes strong, fast and injury free as opposed to burnt out from too much volume, overuse and over training.

Daily, weekly, monthly volume needs to be added into the plan based on available training hours, age and experience and how fast you recover; everyone is different and you need to discover for yourself what works best. Most of my athletes have families and jobs that are a priority.

Alternating stress and recovery to avoid over training, the higher your goals the more this is important.  The more experienced you are, the more you can train at race specific intensity, the less experienced, the more we focus on skill and strength.

We also want to include real life commitments and by having them on the ATP ahead of time we can maintain fitness despite travel and family events. By planning easy recovery days around these everyone stays happy.

Along the same line, scheduling regular rest days or weeks, months and even years- can help prevent injury and sickness rather than just training and training until the body forces you to rest by getting sick.

Here are 3 great resources to learn  more about creating an  ATP. I use with all my athletes and here is a video on how to create one: HERE

And this is Joe Friel himself talking about the ways he creates and ATP: HERE.

And lastly, this link ATP Webinar is my Full Circle Coaching Webinar on how to create an ATP. Enjoy!

Wishing you well!

Coach Erinne


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