The transition phase of training, but what is it? Time to take a break? A rest period? The off season? Personally, I don’t like any of these names because “break”, “rest” and “off” all suggest stopping training, subconsciously telling the body to stop, which is exactly what will happen and exactly what we do not want to happen. What we actually want to happen is to let ourselves recover physically and mentally from a hard training block, whilst still training towards specific targets.
The majority of triathletes out there will use the transition phase of training to build their endurance through long swims, bikes and runs at a low heart rate. But why can’t I continue to go hard? The simple answer would be chronic fatigue/ burnout. It’s possible to go hard for a season or two or three, but it’s also likely they those seasons will be filled with injuries/ illness and you will push yourself to the point of exhaustion, both physically and mentally. Can I go hard sometimes during the transition period? Doing short durations of hard efforts is still important to maintain your speed and power. So it is a good idea to include some hard training within your training plan in order to stimulate the body, but the vast majority should aim to be at a lower intensity.
The other key part of your transition phase would be your to work on any weaknesses you may have but haven’t had time to focus on during your main training blocks. This could range from strength training in the gym to swimming technique focus in the pools to descending skills in the run.
When is the transition phase? Ultimately, the transition phase of training comes between two blocks of training whether it’s between two training blocks in the middle of your season or between your final training block at the end of your season and the first training block at the start of your season. They can range in length from a week to a couple of months. For example you may have races back to back in the middle of the season and you need to give yourself a period of recovery between the two. Or you may be at the end of a long season and don’t have any races planned for several months, so you can afford to give yourself a 2 month transition phase and really work on some of your key weaknesses while letting your body recover.
My final tip that I could give you would be to go out and enjoy your training. Sometimes we get too bogged down needing to hit a certain amount of distance that week or hitting specific power numbers on the bike, that we forget why we actually got into the sport. We do triathlon (or swim or bike or run) because we love it. So on certain days, weeks (if you can), take away the structure, take away the plan, leave the watch at home and just go out there and enjoy your training!
Train smart, enjoy your training and come back feeling refreshed for the next block!