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Story from Davide Giardini – Season Planning with Challenge Family

Posted on: Wednesday 3rd May 2017

With triathlon events booming worldwide, one of the hardest tasks for athletes is deciding where & when to race during the year. In this article I will try to outline a few timing considerations to make in order to begin to outline a tentative racing season.

These tips are simply born from my own experience of racing on the professional triathlon circuit for the past 2.5 years. Of course everyone’s physiology and training adaptations are different, so consider these are general guidelines.

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Usually for a busy age-group athlete, life constraints generally dictate when one is able to race.

With that being said, I like to start the season with a half-distance rust-buster: an emotionally low-stress race to dust the winter cobwebs off, provide some winter motivation, ands gauge the early-season training. I am aiming at beginning my race season with Challenge Gran Canaria (April 22), which should provide a good launching pad for Challenge Rimini (May 7) 2 weeks later.

Your key half-distance race should fall after a period in which you know you can put in a focused 4-week block of training. Often that coincides with your summer vacations. If you have summer holidays during the month of August for example, you might consider – like I’ll be doing – Challenge Walchsee (September 3).

There are plenty of season-ending race options, which provide viable options to keep you motivated as the summer days get shorter and colder, and a good proving ground to unleash your summer fitness. For example, I will be ending my season at Challenge Mallorca (October 14) and following up with Challenge Forte Village (October 29).


With the general framework outlined, we can dive into the specifics of timing & spacing of the races.

Generally speaking, if you’re considering a full-distance race, I would advise against going in tired from racing a half-distance in the few weeks prior. With that said, doing a half-distance 4 weeks prior to your full-distance is certainly a viable option, to inject some speed in those legs and try out your race plan.

Before my full-distance debut at Challenge Venice (June 11) for example, I’ll be racing Challenge Rimini (May 7), with about 4 weeks of spacing between.

After your full-distance, your body and mind will need an extended recovery time. For example, my next race post the Challenge Venice full-distance (Junue 11) is not until 6 weeks after (at the inaugural Challenge Roma, July 23).

For half-distance races, you might find that you perform well on back-to-back weekends of racing, which is certainly a viable strategy, but only recommended if you have had a good training block in your legs. The key is to focus 100% on recovery and not try to “panic train” after your first of two races. For example, I am planning on doubling back Challenge Norway (August 27) with Challenge Walchsee (September 3) a week later.

A 2-week spacing between halves sounds more manageable than 1-week in between, but in reality it’s harder to manage with the 1 week recovery and 1 week taper. It’s hard to find that balance between recovering from your previous effort while keeping sharp for your upcoming race. I will have 2 weeks in between Challenge Gran Canaria (April 22) and Challenge Rimini (May 7), which should be a good opportunity to dial in the training/recovery/taper protocols before doing it all again at season’s end for Challenge Mallorca (October 14) and Challenge Forte Village (October 29).

I would avoid scheduling races 3 weeks apart, as it’s too short of a time to gain fitness between races, and too long of a time to “carry over” your fitness.

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Up next…

With Challenge Family offering over  middle and  long distance triathlons across Europe in the timespan of April thru October, there are considerations to be made regarding your geographic, climatic, and terrain preferences.

In my next article I will try to break down the Challenge Family race offerings by aspects such as hot & cold weather locations, open Ocean & artificial lakes swim venues, hilly & flat bike courses, solitary one-lap & spectator-friendly multi-lap run courses.

Coupled with race timing, these are all important aspects to consider when drafting up a race calendar!

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