Triathlon Training Through Summer Vacations

BY Dave Schell

It’s midsummer, which means race season and summer vacations both happening at the same time. As your “A” race nears, how do you stay on track while you are on the road?

It’s midsummer, which means race season and summer vacations both happening at the same time. As your “A” race nears, how do you stay on track while you are on the road?

First and foremost it is important to sit down, either on your own or with your coach, and look at or discuss all of your planned time away so you can schedule accordingly. In an ideal world you will only be away for a few days at a time causing little, if any, disruption to the training schedule. In this case you (or your coach) can simply schedule a hard training block before or after what will then become some well-deserved downtime. However, the world is rarely “ideal” which means we often have to get creative.


With some planning, running is the ideal workout during a vacation. Running presents a great opportunity to explore new places and only requires a pair of shoes. If the location is not runner friendly (which begs the question, who would want to be there anyway???) then there is almost certainly a treadmill in the hotel. If you will only be away for 3-4 days you can easily front load the week with biking and swimming while making running the primary focus while you are away.


Vacationing with a bike presents a bigger challenge and probably is not an option unless you are driving to your destination. Again, riding a bike is a great chance to explore the area and discover places and activities you may not have found otherwise. However, due to the unfamiliar surroundings, it is best to keep bike workouts unstructured and fun, so focus on time in the saddle rather than lung-searing intervals. Not limiting yourself to the road can open up other possibilities such as trail riding and may also make the workouts more likely to happen. If you are not traveling with a bike the next best thing is a local spin class if there is one to be found. As a last resort there is the dreaded hotel bike, but with their large seats and poor ergonomics these contraptions should be avoided if at all possible. Do your research ahead of time on where and how you’ll get your rides in.


You never realize how few lap lanes there are in the world until you are desperately trying to find one! If you’re not able to find a pool on this list ( then some other alternatives include finding a safe open body of water to swim in while practicing open water skills, or doing some very short laps in the hotel pool while dodging cannonballing kids and runaway beach balls.

In summary

  • Talk to your coach if you have one and make time away part of your training plan.
  • Plan recovery weeks to coincide with vacations if possible.
  • Make running the primary focus while away and front load weeks accordingly.
  • Keep bike workouts fun and unstructured.

One last thing. Be realistic in your expectations. Remember that a vacation can be the time off needed for recovery as well as regenerating motivation after a long period of work, family obligations and diligent training. Trust in the training you’ve done so far (if you need to, look at all the work you’ve done in your TrainingPeaks account)! It takes ten days for VO2 max to begin to decline with zero training and 2-4 weeks for significant reductions to occur1. This is probably much longer than your planned vacation so if worse comes to worse and you can’t get your workouts in, don’t stress. If you do it right, you should come back from your vacation not only rested, but ready to hit it hard after your time off.


Neufer, P.D. (1989, November). The effect of detraining and reduced training on the physiological adaptations to aerobic exercise training. Retrieved from

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About Dave Schell

Dave Schell focuses on coaching mountain biking, gravel cycling, and running. A husband, father of two, and busy professional, Dave knows what it takes to maximize performance on limited time. Dave has a thorough knowledge of the TrainingPeaks platform, and a proven track record of success with first-timers, world cup qualifiers, elite and age group podiums, and weekend warriors.

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