I remember when I was a few years younger watching The Endless Summer 2 - a modern version of the surfing movie The Endless Summer. I hadn't watched the original and back in those days it was hard to get a copy of the original. Eventually I did and what I saw was mind blowing. Two young Americans travelling to hard to reach (in those days) places such as Tahiti, Senegal, Nigeria and South Africa. Their goal was to surf new spots and introduce locals to the sport. It was fascinating. Imagine two strange men turning up at a fishing beach with long table like boards and paddling in to the water only to then come back in on a wave before repeating the exercise. The locals seemed smitten by it and the sequel - filmed nearly 30 years later - revisits some of those places to find either a thriving surf culture or over development and big cultural changes.

In some ways triathlon has gone through a bit of a surfing journey. 30 years ago a handful of people knew about the sport and it was a bit of an underground activity done in your spare time without making a song or dance about it. Nowadays nearly everyone has heard of the sport and it's superstars. It has a BBC page and races are regularly shown on prime time TV. 

Triathlon - whether you just dabble or are a fully committed disciple - has many benefits. It gets you fit, it allows you to buy shiny kit, meet new people and nowadays there are races in most countries throughout the whole year. This last fact means that you could, if you wanted to, race the whole year round. Tempting......and for a lot of people that temptation is too great and they go from one race prep phase to another. 

Done wisely and a well periodized race schedule can lead you to great race performances. Done badly and you can ruin your recovery from one season and leave you ill for a considerable amount of time.

So what is the answer? 

Well my view is that if you want to progress from year to year then you should break your year down. These 3rds may not be exactly the same duration and it is often the case that people use one (shorter) race to build towards another (longer) race. So you could do a training block of 4 months leading to an Olympic distance race in late June before taking a week or so break and then going through another training block of 9-10 weeks leading to a 70.3 race at the end of September. 

The question then is what do you do? You have a few options I guess. 
  • Either sign up for another 70.3 in the next few weeks and use the fitness gained to carry you through. I would say this has a few short term risks (such as injury due to not allowing the body full time to recovery properly. Or more likely the risk of not having enough time to recover and consequently get fitter to perform better than the previous race) 
  • Take a full winter break. Do all the things you may have neglected during the race season like lie in past 6, stay out late, eat and drink (in moderation) the foods you have missed. Then come back to training but with a different focus - such as improve your weak sport train your strong sport in areas that you are weak at (sprint intervals for athletes that have just done an Ironman). Or do an early season marathon for those who aren't confident in their running (This is a potential contentious point and I will go into my views of this in another post). The key thing for this option is to do something different and let the body realign.
  • The final option is to take a mini rest and sign up for another race in a far way location promising great weather and an early opportunity to qualify for a World Championship slot. The advantage of this is if you qualify then you can recover and rebuild from the ground up (see above). The risk is that you don't qualify. Then all you have done is extended your season, cut your recovery time out and now you are panicking about getting to another early season race to get that qualification slot. Which is a dangerous cycle and quite often spirals out of control and next thing you know is that it is late July, you have finally qualified but you are mentally and physically exhausted because you have gone from peak phase to peak phase without any longer than 3 consecutive rest and that was because your best friend had a wedding!
So while I love the fact that you can visit Bahrain in December, Dubai in February, South Africa in April, and all of Europe between May and September before packing your bags to go to Kona in October -  I would suggest that you take a look at having a good amount of time off at some point and really work on giving your body the best chance to smash your goals by picking 2 of those countries to visit and letting other people chase the Endless Summer. There will always be next year to tick those off - assuming you aren't too tired!