Big Training Days also known as BTDs

Thursday, February 12, 2015 by Coach Jeff

BTDs otherwise known as Big Training Days are my favorite sessions and take place during a 12-16 week training block. I typically do two thirds of the race distance about 4-6 weeks before race day.

Whether you’re training for a half marathon or Ironman, BTDs can be very beneficial and serve as a confidence booster. I use them to minimize the unknowns of how I will physically and mentally react on race day. I do this regardless of how many times I’ve raced at that distance. When used the right way, BTDs can answer a lot of questions and remove a lot of doubt.

It’s important to stay in a low heart rate zone. The intention is to go long and keep the same pace, but there is so much more that you can apply.

I treat that training day and the days leading up to it as a dress rehearsal for race week. You should dial in on your nutrition, hydration, controlling your stress levels and most important, sleep.
I recommend that you pick a familiar location for BTDs. It allows you to use imagery to “put yourself in that place” and take the unknowns out of planning for the day. I always make the final decisions on gear, bike setup, race nutrition and contingency plans when going into and right after the BTD.

If you are training for a triathlon, I recommend practice changing a flat when you’re halfway through the bike leg of this day. Use this day to practice adversity that you may encounter during a race. It will prepare you for the situation we all dread. While you’re changing the flat, be mindful of how you’re going about it. Do not get in too big of a hurry. Stay calm and keep your thoughts on the task . One of my favorite sayings is from the former UCLA Basketball Coach, John Wooden, who told his players “be quick but don’t hurry”.

BTDs for 70.3 and Ironman distance triathlons can be fun but long. Plan a day when you can do all three disciplines. Start your day early enough for an open water or pool swim. Pick a location that allows you to drive as little as possible between each discipline.

It’s okay to take up to an hour to transition between each leg. One of the biggest keys to BTDs is staying mentally and physically engaged all the way through what could be a 6-12 hour training day. The effort used to stay on task for that amount of time will serve you well during the race.

If you want to have a training partner make sure you agree to the plan and that you’re both committed to the time and distance. It’s always safer and a little more fun to train with someone on long days.

Hopefully you’ll be able to apply the experience of the Big Training Day to the race when the distance will be longer and you’re pushing yourself to the limits. Have as much fun as possible and finish the race feeling strong knowing that you’ve prepared for all the things that you can control.

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