December 11, 2017 - Last week we talked about simplifying your life, but now let's talk about simplifying your training. There are so many factors that go into training efficiently and effectively. The question remains, how do organize and execute it all? In a perfect world we could train all day without worrying about anything else. That is not the case in real life, so we need to be adaptable.
Plain and simple, if we all had the time, training for triathlon could take up your entire day. Between getting ready for workouts, doing the workouts, eating, napping, stretching/rolling, more workouts and more eating, training could easily be our full time jobs AND full time hobbies. But we don't have that time so we need to really focus on how we can be efficient with our training.
1) EASE OF TRAINING - meaning logistically how easy is it for you to get your training in
-Consider where you swim or which gym you use? Is it out of your way? Are your hours of use restricted? Is there another option that cuts down on commuting time? Is the gym or pool too busy at the hours you need to use it?
- Consider where and when you ride or run. Would it be more time efficient to ride the trainer year round? Can you safely run from your doorstep? If not, maybe investing in a treadmill is a good idea.
- Circling back to cycling: cycling is the most time consuming sport that we do. It takes at least 30 minutes to get ready to ride, there are stoplights and stop signs, gear that needs to be maintained, etc. For those reasons, I am a big advocate for weekday riding on the trainer. Training inside is much easier these days with the invention of smart trainers and Zwift. Training inside is MORE challenging because of the constant resistance. You can stay in the aerobars without fear of missing something on the road like a car turning out in front of you. And you can start your workout in a few minutes... don't have to worry about putting all the gear on, checking tire pressure (especially if you have a trainer like Wahoo Kickr), packing nutrition etc. I like to keep my bike on the trainer all week and have everything set up ready to go. Nutrition is already laid out, computer is set up for Zwift, etc...
2) DOUBLING UP ON SESSIONS
- There is definitely a time and place to keep workouts separated. For example: if you have a hard bike and hard run in the same day or If you are doing a double run day. Typically it's best to give yourself some rest between those sessions and do one in the morning and one in the evening (4 hours apart is typically the minimum rest required).
- Outside of that it may be much more time efficient to double up your sessions. For example, bring your running gear to the pool and run from there after the swim. Run off the bike, even if it isn't a planned transition run. Plan to do strength right after your swim or maybe right after your run. Of course, you should consult your coach about when it's okay to do this, but more often that not, it can be beneficial to train this way for most age group triathletes.
3) Strength, Flexibility, Mobility (all at home)
- How many of you skip strength or flexibility sessions on a regular basis? Why is that?
- Unless you can squeeze this all in after your swim while you are already at the gym, it is very inconvenient to make a separate trip to the gym to do this stuff.
- We need to make it so that this type of training can be done at home or on the road. You all will learn more about this on Sunday during our strength and mobility clinic.
- Cheap tools that can help: knock off suspension trainer (TRX), kettle bell, foam roller or PVC pipe from Home Depot, mini band, theraband or power band.
4) Splitting Workouts in Half
- Let's say you have a 2 hour ride on the schedule and strength, but you work till 6pm. You could ride 7-9pm and then do strength until 10pm. But you know that doing that will affect sleep and therefore be hard to properly recover from.
- An alternate idea is to split the ride in half. Do 1 hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. Physically the workout will have a similar impact. I wouldn't recommend this for every single ride, but it can definitely be helpful.
- We can do the same with runs as well. For example, you have a 75min run with 2 x 15min tempo. Do a 30min wake up run, and then do the workout in the evening with less warm up and cool down. If you feel the need to warm up or cool down longer, try to keep that days total volume similar to the original plan. I'd say no more than 10min of extra running...
5) Skipping workouts / Moving Workouts
- It's realistic that your planned schedule isn't going to go as planned. So how do you know which workouts to skip or move?
- As a coach, I can say that weeks are designed to have maximum impact, but daily life may dictate otherwise. That perfect plan that the coach created can become a very bad plan given the person’s daily schedule. Communication is most important. Make sure your coach knows what your daily schedule is like. If you are super busy every Wednesday, there is no need to plan for 3 hours of training on that day. If your plans change, let your coach know.
- It's ideal to let your coach figure out how to move workouts around. Sometimes it can be a simple switch, but something it isn't. Your coach should be there for that type of stuff. Now sometimes, there is no way to move a workout around and you just need to simply skip some workouts. If it's time related, it's best to skip the recovery workouts first and aerobic workouts second. If you have intervals, it's probably best to do those sessions. Every athlete is different though, so this is something you can ask your coach. If I think an athletes biggest limiter is there durability and they are preparing for an Ironman, I would rather they nailed a 3 hour aerobic ride, than the 90min ride with some 30sec intervals. Vice versa, if an athlete has great durability but poor speed, I would probably rather they missed or shortened the longer aerobic workouts and made sure to nail all the intense interval sessions.
Quick Tip: its better to cut a workout shorter than to skip it completely. Don't be an all or nothing athlete when it comes to consistency of training. If you have to shorten a workout, cut down on the warm up and cool down. Don't shorten the intervals.
6) THE KEY IS COMMUNICATION.
The more your coach knows about your daily life and schedule, the better. I wrote the best programs for athletes that I know the best! I know them the best because they communicate with me better than the others. This doesn't mean they communicate with me the most, it means that they share the most important information. For example, some athletes that I coach, I can tell you the days and hours they work, their family commitments, their hobbies outside triathlon, where and when they train, etc.
- Share enough with your coach so that they could write a schedule for you like they are writing it for themselves.
Everything we just talked about was how to make triathlon a bigger priority in your life. But that isn't always the best thing to do...Remember, our goal with training is do to consistent hard work over long periods of time. If you simplify your life too much and you start to get burned out, you may end up taking a week off training, or a month, or maybe a year! You would have been better off never crossing that line in the first place.
The most common thing I see is athletes simplifying too much and taking things too seriously, and then missing huge chunks of training during the year. It's so common for athletes to get busy and miss a week here and a week there, but it really adds up.
- Know your limits. If taking a day off per week keeps you from taking a week off per month, do that!!!
- Really consider the amount of training you are doing and if it is too much or too little. If you are consistently sore, tired, stressed, beat up, unhappy... then you are probably trying to train too much.
- Take time off. Like REALLY TAKE some freaking time off!!!! I take 2-4 weeks 100% off training each year. I love it. I don't even think about triathlon. It's because I take this time off that I can really focus during the majority of the year. I would say most age group triathletes need 1-2 weeks 100% off during the off season and then another 1-3 weeks building into things casually. The more an athlete trains, the more off time they need. Use that off time to create more balance
- Don't be too serious about training during the first 8 weeks back. I see this every year with almost everyone... Athletes finish their season, they are highly motivated (usually because they want to do better than they just did) and they are way too serious during the time when they should be the least serious. When athletes are too motivated in their off season or during the first 8 weeks back, I know they are going to have trouble with their training when it really counts. Always best to be a little reserved at first so that you are still motivated when the real training and racing comes.