Time between Tri’s

So I’ve signed up for my first Tri, Olympic Distance in May. I’ve been cycling for about 5 years and running frequently recently, and a competent if not regular swimmer (something I’ll try and fix).
My question is, I have a couple of friends who will be entering an Olympic Tri 3 weeks later. Given I have been using TR and running since about September, with my plans all in place up until May, would three weeks be enough for me to recover and put in a decent effort for the second race? I’m hoping two weeks of maintenance with a one week like the end of a plan will be ok?

Yeah three weeks should be more than enough time to recover. You’ll need to decide which of the two races you’re wanting to target as your “A” race though. If it’s the second race, it’s probably not worth tapering too much for the first and simply using the first race as a tune-up race.

If you’ve never done a tri before I’d even recommend doing a sprint race in Apr if possible. Getting some swim race practice before doing the Olympic distance 1500m swim would be well worth it.

Good luck anyway, let us know how you get on :+1:

Cool, thanks.
Yeah I’ll probably put more effort into the second one, although another race in April could be out of he question as the original idea was to just have a couple of targets rather than continously racing crits all summer and keeping the family happy!
I have already managed 1k swim in a pool in half hour ish so with a bit more practice should be fine for it.
No doubt have lore questions along the way

Definitely get at least one open water swim in before the tri. Even if you’re swimming well in the pool, open water is a whole different beast!


Three weeks is plenty of time to recover between Olys. You’ll have a different recovery timeline after a triathlon than a bike race because of the physical toll of running off the bike. I’d probably take the two days after the race either off or very easy spin or swim. Then you can progress back into a 12-14 day maintenance period where you sharpen back up before backing off the 4-5 days prior to the second race. Your goal during that work period shouldn’t be to build fitness so much as maintain it, so you’re looking at efforts that resemble your race closely, but with adequate recovery both during and after workouts, stuff like Antelope (maybe a (-) version) and a reduced version of one of your Build or Specialty VO2max workouts would probably be good key workouts on the bike. Race-pace intervals on the run and swim with adequate recovery. I like 9’ on-2’ walk intervals on the run and 300s on 20-30s rest for the swim during Peak/Race time.

So some ideas for that first week would be:
Antelope (-) followed by a 15 min race pace run
20-30 min easy spin followed by 3 or 4x9 min run/2min walk intervals
VO2Max workout on bike
Tempo run
Easy bike
Easy run

Second week you could do something similar but reduce the interval durations or number of intervals further. Third week should be short, race-intensity stuff.

The key in that period is not to build volume, but to make sure you’re doing race intensity stuff once or twice a week per sport.


Amazing thanks

I completed my first tri (sprint) 2 weeks ago. The open water swim is highly recommended. It was easy for me to stay on track in the pool due to the lane markings and each time you make it to the wall it was a slight rest. Open water doesn’t allow for that turn around “rest” and sighting is very important. All things I’m sure you’re very aware of. Even though it was a sprint and not olympic, I feel that I could be ready for another in a week and have an even better idea of how I could improve.

Good luck with the race


I would advice you to taper properly for the first race, even if the 2nd you want to do better. I am almost always better on race day the 2nd or 3rd race of the season. i can’t think of one in which I haven’t been better. There’s usually a fitness boost from the first race, and then you have more experience for your pacing.

My race season type of schedule consists of: 2 days completely off after the race, then work in the easy stuff the next half of the week. The next weekend you should be at least able to do a decent outdoor ride, but don’t hammer it. Fill the next week in as if it was the last hard week of your specialty plan, then do a 1 week taper for the next race. That one hard week will keep everything super sharp and you might find you can do things better than prior to the race.

As JustInTime mentioned, there’s some differences with open water swimming. I would always suggest getting used to flip turning. When I did open turns, I remember myself being used to grabbing on to something every 25 yards or so, it really helps to get used to continuous swimming. I feel that open water swimming is easier than in the pool with the flip turns since you don’t have to hold your breath every 25/50 yards/meters and you can just get in to a rhythm. Practice your sight breathing in the last week or two before your races, it is different and in an open water swim you might sight every 4-8 strokes.

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Good advice here. Flip turns are not terribly hard to learn, but take a while to perfect. There is a training benefit to them. That little bit of anaerobic time every length pays dividends, and you learn to push through those times when your body is a bit oxygen depleted. That helps particularly in ocean swims, where you may miss a breath or two periodically due to surf or chop. I agree that physically, open water feels easier to me than my hard pool workouts because of the completely steady-state nature of the open water, plus the added buoyancy of a wetsuit (and salt water).

Definitely practice open water, and particularly if you are able, practice with a buddy so you can learn how to draft, follow and sight with other people around. You will learn a lot about how balanced your stroke is in open water; most people pull one direction or the other and aren’t aware of it until they get in open water. My first tris long ago, I pulled to the left pretty hard and didn’t know it. I sighted about every 12 strokes, so I ended up swimming a lot farther than my competition, which cost me time. I cut my sighting down to every 4th stroke until I was able to better balance my stroke. Now, I can swim for a long time without sighting and be pretty straight, but I still sight every 6-8 strokes in lakes, more frequently in ocean with current.

You might want to do a whole lot more swimming if you’re only managing 1km for half an hour.

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I personally wouldn’t recommend practising flip turning to a newcomer to the sport. Flip turning is more of an advanced skill. If he hasn’t got much time for swimming he’d be way better off spending his time working on the stroke fundamentals.

To quote Gerry Rodrigues from Tower 26:

  • We need to look at the demands of this specific sport, and extract from competitive swimming what can add value, but take away the things that don’t have an application in triathlon.
    • E.g. flip turns. It adds no value to swimming a half Ironman or Ironman race.
      • Some coaches would debate that it does, but in a time budgeted triathlete’s swim training schedule (often just 2 hours a week), spending time learning to do flip turns should be a very low priority.

IMO if you’re a more advanced swimmer who spends quite a bit of time in the pool then there’s definitely merit in practising flip turning, but not someone who’s working towards their first tri.


I respectfully disagree. I was giving my experience and mentioning the value it added to my comfort in the water during an open water swim. I will also say that @kurt.braeckel’s experiences were similar to mine.

I was given the same advice about how you don’t flip turn in a lake or open water… but you do swim continuously… or at least that is the goal. I feel that when I started doing flip turns it was a game changer to how I felt in the water. Regular open water swims like Gerry can do in California is just not feasible for many people. I have only done maybe 2 or 3 open water swims outside of triathlon swims.

Yeah you should be okay.

Light taper to the first race, recovery week (3 light bikes) after, a week of training normally, then a slight taper to the second event. Just remember your races are your hard sessions, you don’t want any others.

And run easy.


Making the lake swim a weekly occurrence for the six weeks before race day transforms my performance.


I love the Tower26 philosophy, and I understand Gerry’s point and have even heard him say it, but I largely disagree with him for a “career” triathlete based on my personal experience and discussion with other coaches. I’ve found value in flip turns, and frankly I didn’t find them hard to learn, nor did I have to dedicate specific time training them. I agree that you don’t need to refine your turn technique with drill sessions or specific focus on them while wasting valuable pool time, but the simple fact is about 30 minutes of practice in an unstructured offseason session and then a commitment to doing flip turns over the course of time is good enough for even the least comfortable in the water. That won’t make you proficient enough to win your Masters category, but it’ll do the trick for the training advantage that I (and many others) perceive.

As I said, a “career” triathlete needs to commit to flip turns during an offseason IMO. For someone dabbling in the sport for a single race or single season, I agree with Gerry that it should not be a priority over building basic swim fitness.

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I should probably add both events are open water, one in a marine lake the other in a standard lake, so wetsuit and no flip turns I’d imagine

Rare is the triathlon that would involve flip turns. It just seems your question spawned a branch thread of its own about the training benefits of flip turns. :slight_smile: