Following on from looking at how to plan your next triathlon season from start to finish, we will now look into how to successfully integrate your plan into your day to day life in order to achieve those goals!
We are strong believers in integrating your training in your day to day life, rather than the other way around, or balancing it / fitting it in where you can.
From our experience, this doesn't work, and is why we think unmonitored / inflexible training plans don't work. Life is unpredictable.
This being said, you can use the above principles to help you get the most out of your limited time and energy as a time crunched athlete!
Triathletes have to juggle three sports, maintain a relationship, perform at work, socialise? and look after children... It can be overwhelming. Due to a triathletes personality type... they are usually high-achieving individuals who don't like to compromise performance in any area, and therefore sacrificing in any of these areas isn't an option.
This can land them in a pickle... as it can result in a lack of balance and something ends up giving in. You don't want it to be the wrong thing and come to regret it later.
With a few principles of efficiency, and good guidance, it's possible to streamline training and integrate it into day to day life to allow a high performance in all areas. Follow these six principles and execute them deliberately to fully integrate a successful training plan into your life.
1. Emphasise frequency and consistency over occasional big days
One of the biggest things we try and achieve as professionals but also, coaches, is frequency. This doesn't matter if it's a short workout. Short workouts foster consistency, are beneficial and can be added to a busy schedule.
The focus here is to create a week that you can churn out week after week. If you have occasional big days, then it may cause too much stress on the body and cause injury or illness which will then set you back on your consistency.
Think reps over maximum lifts (if we are thinking in gym terms) ... After all, a triathlon isn't a short sharp race, lift or game... It's not explosive... reps will be your friend in training and the amount of workouts you do.
Again. it's not about squeezing in a session. It's about having a carefully planned routine that integrates these short sessions into your day to day. So if you've got an hour for lunch and you want to exercise, then you might choose to fit in a 30 minute run rather than an hour cycle etc.
2. Stop obsessing over volume and instead work on executing a balanced plan
Of course. Triathletes often consider more to be more. And this could be considered the case, but squeezing the maximum numbers of hours of training into a week isn't always the best way of doing it, and often results in a haphazard training cycle.
To ensure the plan is balanced and effective, identify the key sessions that are not negotiable. This will depend on what you need as an athlete (talking to a coach or someone with some more training knowledge specific to you can help).
For example, an explosive athlete may need to prioritise longer or tempo workouts, where as a slow twitch athlete may need the high intensity workouts.
Ideally schedule these sessions at times that will not be threatened by other responsibilities. I often recommend first thing in the morning prior to work, as then you're not tired at the end of the day or have unforeseen work that requires you to stay longer than expected!
3. Allocate intensity relative to your goals
Are you training for a shorter race, such as sprint or olympic, or 70.3+... these will dictate how much of certain intensities will be required, as you'll want to train more at race pace as this is the specific system that you'll be using!
That being said, as previously mentioned, it also depends on the type of athlete and physiology that you currently have, as after all, you need to train specifically for that!
For sprint and olympic triathlons, you may want to be focusing on threshold work as this is the intensity that they are raced at (not FTP!)
For 70.3, you want to focus more on tempo workouts.
And full distance, you want to focus on your top end zone 2 efforts.
4. Allocate time relative to your goals—especially for the swim
Work out what you need to focus on! What are your strengths and weaknesses, and allocate time accordingly.
Not only that, you need to work out the demands of the race.
What is going to allow you to achieve your goal. Can you already ride for 4-6 hours? if so you may not need to train as much on a bike, but if you can't, then the reverse. At the same time, the bike is the largest proportion of the race and therefore the area it's easiest to recover, save time or put time into your rivals.
Is swimming your weakness and you need to focus more on technique?
Prioritise your sessions accordingly and integrate them into your week. Don't just do the stuff that you enjoy, if it were easy everyone would do it. Have a good mix of both enjoyable and tough sessions, as at the end of the day, you won't do it if you don't enjoy the process.
5. Know your intensity zones and meticulously track fitness metrics
Knowing your zones can be fundamental to training properly, reducing fatigue, and staying healthy.
If you're training with the right balance of intensity, then there should be no reason that you're not able to go about your day full of beans. Of course, you'll be tired from time to time, but aren't we all.
Get your zones tested, and analysed by someone with knowledge, and applied to your training plan. This is important. The problem a lot of people encounter is that they think their zones are correct, and they might not be... don't take the 220- your age to work out your maximum HR... it's not right for everyone!
Conduct lactic testing or do a series of sessions under the watchful eye of your coach and you'll have a good basis for working intelligently.
6. Recover intelligently
Sleep and fuelling is essential both before and after training. All of your improvement is done during recovery as the body tries to adapt to the training you've given it. If you're not recovering properly, then you're not being efficient with the gains your body could be making from the training you're doing.
Don't neglect fuel. It's a common miss-conception that being small will make you faster. It's an easy mistake to make when you see everyone on a world championship startline absolutely shredded at 4% body fat... These are professionals doing it under guidance and will only be like that for certain periods throughout the year.
Eat well and fuel before and after training.
Being able to prioritise is essential in any aspect of life, but especially when you're trying to be a triathlete as you have so many things to juggle, and you can't always do them all. Something may have to give, or you'll have to make time for things no matter what.
How much time would you like to give to training... do you have the time for that? Start off slow and ease your way in with consistency over volume to begin with. See how that works and then you can dial it up or down slowly as appropriate.
If you think you can commit 12 hours to a week of training, then start off with 8 and see how that goes. Then you can steadily work up to 12 over time.
Be smart about it. Seek help if needed.
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