When I think about triathlon and how it fits into my life and how I want to train and race, I consider the military planning as an efficient and effective way of looking at it. Great military thinkers have been around since the dawn of time, so it is a proven way of looking at things.

To understand my premise you have to understand the basics of military planning and execution. There are three levels of military planning and execution: strategic, operational, and tactical. Additionally, sometimes a Campaign is used to combine several operations to meet strategic
objectives. At the most basic level of execution is Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) that are how and what people actually do, like running form, bicycle cadence and such.

Everything you do must somehow support the level above it and somehow be connected to the level below it in order to be useful. If something does not support higher and subordinate levels of scope, you should seriously question why you do it. In terms of triathlon that you are doing as a hobby, you might simply add to your objectives so that it has a place to fit.

Below is a table that puts different triathlon activities next to an equivalent military activity, and an explanation of the basic level of activity or thought.

Triathlon Scope

Military Scope

Level of Activity

Lifestyle / Philosophy

Why Do I Tri?


This is the highest level of planning and execution. It encompasses every aspect of the activity. All activities should meet strategic goals. This is ongoing at all times with reviews every few years. Changes are infrequent.

A few seasons in a row or a level of competitiveness


A series of operations that interact to meet a strategic objective. This is normally a few months at a minimum and up to a few months long in time.

A single season of training and racing


A large scale event with several objectives and/or phases, all which interact to meet a campaign or strategic goal.

A single race


A single, smaller goal with specific tasks and objectives that meet operational goals.

Swim Stroke, Bicycle cadence, Running form, Specific gear

Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

Very detailed items or issues that relate to specific ways of doing things.