Train Triathlon smarter - with Coach Phil

Train Triathlon smarter - with Coach Phil

With greater knowledge and experience it becomes much more difficult to answer even the simplest of questions with a simple answer:

  • Should I add an extra run in to my training week?
  • Should I ride longer at the weekend?
  • Should I move my swimming more to the open water than the pool?
  • Should I add more strength training to my training plan?


My answer to these and many other questions commonly starts with “it depends….”. The answer I arrive at needs to be both specific to the individual, their abilities, facilities, time availability, goal, time of year and training cycle etc….


However, I do have a set of core principles that I provide my clients with at the start of our coaching relationship. This helps them to understand my reasoning that underpins their training plan and my feedback to them. I will share a few of them with you now…


  • Identify the KEY sessions and prioritise – time of day / 1st session of the day / go easier and fuel well the day of and day before
  • VOLUME trumps intensity for the majority of people the majority of the time – to a certain point MORE (aerobic training) IS BETTER.
  • Easy is EASY! Save your mental and physical energy for the key sessions.
  • Set training zones accurately and realistically. There is a difference between a personal best and a new threshold number!
  • YOU ARE NOT A MACHINE – you are affected by day to day variation (motivation, stress, health, energy, tolerance of discomfort). Your perceived effort will be much more trustworthy than your sports watch, sleep tracker or HRV score. Listen to your body and train within broad regions not to specific numbers.
  • Triangulate – use external and internal data to understand your body, your effort level and make good decisions in training and racing. Us the combination of pace, power, RPE and HR; each has strengths and flaws but together they give a great overview.
  • Swim 1st wherever possible – it is heavily technique dependent and needs physical and mental freshness to improve it. Place it earlier in the day and before other training sessions as often as possible.
  • Separate resistance from aerobic training where possible (>5hrs). Maximise the adptations / cellular signalling from both forms of exercise.
  • Do not worry if you can’t incorporate all of these principles – we aim for progress not perfection!


This is an abbreviated sample with others principles being more specific advice on swim, bike, run and strength training.


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