First and most obvious task at hand in planning a season, contrary to popular belief, is deciding on a goal. If you are finding your commitment to a particular goal worthy of dedicating your season to, then the next step is get your loved ones on board to help you support that goal. Many relationships are broken because of the time required of triathlon. The long hours and unusual practices of early or late even workouts often become the norm for triathletes. To be realistic, first discuss or look into finances to see if you can financially afford what it takes to achieve those goals if it requires a lot of travel. Next, you will need to plan sometime up to a year in advance with your employer to request vacation time ensuring time off for travel. This is of course, assuming you will be traveling for your main goal. To begin the actual training part of planning a season, you can do this alone or with the help of an experienced coach.
A USAT certified triathlon coach has the experience and knowledge to guide you in planning your season so that you do not become over-raced/trained. Spacing out races is a major factor to optimize your results. Recovery will be needed, which varies from distance to distance for races. For example, if you plan on racing your first Ironman, plan on several months before having "normal" energy levels again. More experience Ironman competitors will take only 4 to 6 week at times to feel relatively fresh/able to resume normal training again. If you race sprint or Olympic races, one or two weeks between races may only be required if fitness levels are high. Keep in mind, too much racing too close together, can lead to plateauing. In worst case scenario, you can develop symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome from all the racing and training.
To keep the season interesting, try to challenge yourself with a mix of distances in your schedule. Novices may want to start with a sprint, then lead up to an Olympic distance race or two--finally, when fitness is gained throughout the season, you may want to attempt a late season half iron distance. Take into account the weather averages for whatever time of year at the location of the race that you will be participating. If you do not like hot conditions, stay away from races in those areas by checking into the Weather Channel or other weather service providers. Another great tip is to look at early season "A" race and a late season "A" race if you do not like hot temperatures. When picking how many to put on your schedule, pick:
1) 1-2 "A" races (these are your most important key races) 2) 2-4 "B" races (these are tune up races to try out things like nutrition, new race strategies, or those new zillion dollar carbon wheels in a race situation). Although never try new equipment for the first time in a race! 3) Any "C" races are really nothing more than a training day for you to pay some extra deniro, get in a fast training day, maybe get a neat t-shirt or performance wear clothing with your entry fee.
Lastly, use a periodized annual plan to map out all the training (from training, or testing, weights, races and off season). To consult with a USAT certified coach about setting your season up, we of course, have a great place to start...and you found us at Gemini Multisport!