The Starting Line

Warm, sunny days might seem years away, but it’s never too early to start thinking about summer races. Triathlon? Road race? Trail run? A late spring or summer race is great motivation for cold-weather training, and you don’t need to be a seasoned athlete to get started.

Depending on your goal and current level of fitness, you want a training plan that gets you to the starting line and across the finish line strong and injury-free.

Know What You Want
First, decide if your goal is to compete or complete—this plays a big part in the type of plan you follow. Regardless, the general idea is to start slowly and build up each week, avoiding big jumps in your training volume.

Know What You Can Get Away With
A typical training plan will follow the 10% rule: only add 10% to your training time or distance per week. For a 5k to 10k running race, you can usually get away with limited training. A few workouts a week following the 10% rule should allow you to complete the race comfortably. A sprint-distance triathlon also requires only a few workouts per week, alternating between each discipline. As distances grow longer, however, you need to build your endurance and get your body used to the wear and tear of mileage. There are many good books and online resources that provide specific training plans based on the type of event, distance, and duration of training plan.

Don't Just Run, Swim, and Bike
Core strength and flexibility are also important fitness components regardless of the sport. Trail running and cross-training are great ways to increase your mileage and power. Skiing, hiking, weight-training, and yoga diversify your fitness portfolio and yield many physical benefits. When running, avoid concrete and asphalt, and pay attention to your form. As always, if you have any physical concerns, you should talk to your doctor and a professional trainer before jumping in.

Don't Underestimate the Power of Group Dynamics
Working out with others helps keep you motivated and increases the quality of your workout. Luckily, southwest Montana is loaded with groups to help you with your training and racing goals. Check these out:
Bozeman Tritons Triathlon Club (
Big Sky Wind Drinkers (
Bozeman Master Swim Club (
Gallatin Valley Bike Club (

Now get out there and have fun!

Laurie Thatcher is a psychoanalyst by trade and coach of the Bozeman Triathlon Club. She placed second at the 2007 Ironman Coeur d’Alene in the women’s 40-44 age group, qualifying her to race the Ironman World Championship in Kona that year. Tony Thatcher is a GIS programmer/analyst by trade, and active with the Bozeman Triathlon Club as an athlete, assistant coach, and ride leader.