How fit can I get in 4 weeks?

I have an x terra triathlon in 4 weeks. I’ve been training for it since February, however it’s been very disjointed for many reasons, ski holiday =knee injury, had my dog put down which wiped me out for a week and now I’m sick.
I’ve years of training in me but I honestly feel the most unfit in years. I did an ironman last year but everything has gone down hill since then.
So I’ve adjusted my expectations for the xterra to just enjoying it now.
So how fit can you get in 4 weeks (hopefully) when this illness goes away?

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I think the best and most sensible expectation you should have in 4 weeks, is that you will be used to race effort by having done a mini block of training and being used to sustained high effort.

It’s foolish to cram sessions in, pick a sensible build of sessions over the 3 weeks and 1 week to taper and be fresh.

Personally I’d head for some sustained sweetspot style training and try to prep for race readiness rather than necessarily boost fitness massively by overdoing the volume


If you’ve put the work in beforehand you won’t have lost too much endurance energy and losses will be limited to the top end stuff only, but you are right to adjust your expectations but also you might surprise yourself. Good luck :four_leaf_clover:

Condolences about your dog brother. It is tough to lose a good dog.


Hmmm…maybe two reasonable options…first would be an ‘aerobic impulse’ 4 weeks out and then taper down to the event. I’m not a big fan of the training impulse approach but you’d probably get something out of it for maybe outsized injury risk. Second option is just get back to regular training but increase your focus on VO2max work. Because, for sure, you can get a VO2max response in just a few weeks. Just from blood volume expansion. A third option would be go to your calendar & create the event. Let’s see what TR recommends. (I honestly don’t know what they’ll say) Give it a try!

And, finally, this is my real advice. If it were me, I would set the goal to mak this the most enjoyable race of my career. Because you, my friend, deserve to have some enjoyment in your life. Some goals that I would set for myself…make this swim my ‘most drafted ever’ swim. See if you can swim in somebody’s wake 80% of the time or more…find at least two spots on the bike that might have the best view and make it your goal to take a few seconds to enjoy the view…tell at least two volunteers they are doing a great job…just enjoy the race. Without regard to your performance.


Do you have a link? Google searches don’t bring up anything conclusive.

This was going to be my answer.

Personally, I tried a VO2 block after working on extensive threshold. I think I lost fitness. The VO2 workouts were so fatiguing that I couldn’t maintain my threshold fitness. I’d be inclined to focus on extensive TTE with just a few weeks of training.


With 4 weeks of training available, and the fact that this is not (no longer?) an “A” event, I would not bother with a 1 week taper…I’d just train right through the event with an easy day or two right before the race. You will arguably benefit more from additional training than a week of rest…in this case. (emphasis added)

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You are reaching for the legendary Reverse Taper!

You’ve done little/no training so train more and more until race day. I can’t say it’s recommended but it sure is popular :sweat_smile:

Joking aside, the smart move is to can the race. It’s no biggie. Book another race three months down the line. Do this one at Ironman effort/pace maybe, a training session.

You won’t get significantly fitter in four weeks but you can get significantly injured.


Well, first of all, don’t make me the advocate for training impulses since I’m generally not a fan. Just saying, here is one possibility if you want to go for it.

Specifically thinking about growing more mitochondria in that timeframe.

Contractile activity-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle
Transient changes to metabolic homeostasis initiate mitochondrial adaptation to endurance exercise

Of course blood volume changes can happen in days & transporter up/down regulation can happen in hours (see my posts on this forum fiddling around with Green’s MCT protocol) but that type of thing isn’t likely for an already trained athlete and plus VO2max (the other suggestion) work captures that.

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Joe Friel recommends ramp rate of 5-8 points/week.

Bit of an update on my situation. It seems I have whooping cough :slightly_frowning_face: so I’ve not done any exercise apart from walking for 2 weeks now.
I’ve pretty much written off the x terra now.
I’m not sure when to start gentle training yet as in general I don’t feel too bad but when I get a coughing fit it always ends up with me vomiting. So I don’t want exercise to kick things off.
Any else had whooping cough?

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Well that sucks @davidsparkinson ! Get well soon!

I’ve never had whooping cough since I’ve been vaxed. Maybe some others on this forum will be able to help you. I’ve been told it can be debilitating but hang in there…you’ll be back better than ever.

No afraid not, until recently I thought it was a childhood illness. Look after yourself.

Yes, I had it in 2015 and remember it like it was yesterday. It took me out of any meaningful fitness for six weeks but once I got back to training, I was back to full fitness in a further six weeks. Once I was back training, it was just really residual wheeziness and some latent fatigue that was the issue. Get well soon!

Nope, one of the standard vaccinations in childhood.

Yeah I was vaccinated for it as a kid, but apparently it only lasts 10 years. I’ve been to see a doctor, he didn’t think it was whooping cough. Chest infection and I’ve since tested positive for covid for the 4th time.