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Should triathletes race back-to-back weekends?

Wondering if you can or should race back-to-back triathlons this summer? With so many races on the calendar, it can be hard to pick just one in any given month. Back-to-back racing can certainly be done and is a great way to test yourself physically and mentally. I did this a few times in my career and with the right attitude, tools and planning you can race well and achieve what you were set out to do. Here are some tips and strategies I’ve used when racing an olympic event back-to-back with a half distance the following weekend.

Choose wisely

  • Short before long:  race the shorter event first. You’ll be able to get recover faster and have a solid build up and recovery week leading toyour next race.
  • Location: find two races where travel is at a minimum and the type of environment is similar.
  • Familiarity: look at races you may have done before to keep the added stress of finding your bearings and keeping logistics easy.

What to do after the first race

  • Post-race fuel window: Ingest a good recovery drink ASAP. Make sure your drink of choice includes carbohydrates and protein. Eat more than you normally would, as this is the time to ingest as many carbohydrates with protein as possible to ensure a solid recovery.
  • Take advantage of the post-race massage at the event
  • Flush your legs: Jump back on your bike for a super easy spin two to four hours after the first event
  • Rehydrate: For these next 24 to 48 hours it’s crucial to drink and replenish your electrolytes. Keep a water bottle at hand and drink at least three bottles right after the race. A good rule of thumb is continue drinking until your urine is clear.

Recovery: What you do immediately after the race will be crucial for the following days and overall recovery

  • Sleep: Take naps, get at least eight hours of sleep a night and try to put your legs up as much as possible during the week when not training.
  • Nutrition: Keep the treats at bay and focus on high quality nutrients to help repair your muscles and body. Eat a salad and lots of vegetables daily and continue replenishing on your hydration.
  • Tools: Any tools that may aid in recovery are great to use.  I use self-massage balls and foam rollers. If you can, get a massage during the week too.

Train to recover

You won’t make any gains to your fitness for the next six days, so all training should be thought of as recovery workouts. Below, I’ve provided a sample week for in between back-to-back races. Take a day off  mid-week rather than right after the race. This allows for more active recovery in the earlier part of the week and gives you a complete mental break. Use this rest day off pure recovery and stay off your feet as much as possible.  I recommend keeping workouts short but frequent.

Sample Week
Sunday: First race; recovery bike 30 – 45 minutes (high cadence, low heart-rate)
Monday:  Easy 2,000 m swim, recovery bike 1 hour, optional easy 10 minute jog
Tuesday: Jog (up to 30 minutes easy); easy bike or swim (up to 1 hour swim;  1.5 hour bike)
Wednesday:  DAY OFF
Thursday: 2 hour aerobic bike with some race pace efforts (3 x 5 minutes at race pace); jog (up to 30 minutes)
Friday: 30 – 45 minute swim with some sharpening, fast 25s/50s, jog 20 – 30 minutes with a few race pickups up to 2 – 3minutes
Saturday: easy 30-minute bike with some race pickups, easy 10-minute jog with race pickups, easy 15 minute swim with race pickups.
Sunday:  Second race!

Extra considerations if you’re packing for destination back-to-back races

  • Pack another pair run shoes in case you have blisters from the first race and need a different style or pair
  • An indoor trainer can be easy to travel with and useful for recovery spins
  • Bring extra race fuel
  • Pack two of items that are easily lost (ie. goggles, race fuel, water bottles)

Lastly, racing back-to-back is mentally and physically tough but can be very rewarding and exciting. In all my races that I’ve done within seven days of each other, I had great experiences. However, I’d only recommend doing this once a year because of the impact it has on your longevity in the sport. Find two races you’re excited about this year and go for it!

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Comments

great! loved this article
by Rebecca Varney - 2 years ago - 01/28/2017, 23:24
This is great! I scheduled a couple this summer and was hoping I wouldn't overdo it. I was keeping the mindset as the 1st one was preparation for the 2nd weekend. Thank you!!
by Kristin Chronic-Wetzel - 2 years ago - 03/06/2017, 08:40

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