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Tips for A More Efficient Triathlon Training

by Aug 25, 2020Training0 comments

Triathletes face a never-ending time crunch. Besides juggling three sports, they have to perform at work, make it to their child’s soccer game, and stay married. People who do triathlons are often high-achieving individuals, so compromising performance or any one of the areas mentioned above is not an option. However, this can result in imbalance.

But it is possible to streamline your triathlon training to allow you to achieve your performance potential while still living up to your other responsibilities. The key is efficiency. Below are six principles that will help you get the most out of your limited time and energy.

1. Choose frequency and consistency over occasional big days.

Short workouts encourage consistency, are useful, and can be squeezed into a busy schedule. Keep in mind that your fitness is not directly proportional to the number of hours you train. A 60-minute versus a 30-minute doesn’t give you significantly different results. However, you will get more of the results you want when you run consistently over weeks, months, and years.

For instance, if you are on a business trip and have a window of about 45 minutes before meeting clients, avoid lying around just watching TV. Instead, squeeze in a short workout. While it may not be worth the same as more extended sessions, it is still useful for boosting fitness, is easy to recover from, and can be quickly scheduled.

Many athletes end up trying to cram in much of their training during the weekends in long sessions. But while occasional big days are also essential, they should only be a welcome addition to shorter, consistent workout routines. Your body makes adaptations that encourage fitness through long-term and frequent stimuli, so strive for frequency when training for all three disciplines.

2. Aim for balance, not for volume.

Many triathletes focus on maximizing the number of hours they train each week, which often results in a chaotic training cycle that neglects high-benefit workouts with specific purposes. Remember, what counts is what you do, and not how long you do it.

In ensuring a balanced and effective plan, the key is identifying which sessions are non-negotiable. These should include high intensity and key endurance sessions that are most beneficial for improving your fitness. Schedule these workouts for times that you are sure will not come in conflict with your other responsibilities. Aim to go focused and fresh into these workouts by getting good sleep and nutrition prior.

Doing your priority workouts well will increase your essential fitness metrics, like your threshold and aerobic capacity. These workouts also stimulate the toughness that your mind needs to persevere during the race.

Aim for balance, not for volume.

3. Choose intensity zones according to your goals.

If boosting your performance is your goal when training for short periods, much of your training should be in the upper-intensity zones, or above zone two. Most triathletes allocate the most intensity to the bike because of all three sports in triathlon, cycling is less traumatic on the tendons and joints and offers lower recovery cost.

Cycling also depends much on muscular power than running, which relies on cardiorespiratory fitness. Cycling on an indoor trainer is more efficient than outdoor cycling because it allows you to execute workouts at precise intensities without dealing with traffic, stoplights, the weather, or other outdoor obstacles. If you want to improve your speed, riding indoors and riding hard is essential.

On the other hand, your run fitness will improve most on volume and frequency rather than intensity. Most triathletes would benefit from increasing their number of running hours to more than 25 miles a week before incorporating hard intervals and tempo runs.

These workouts require durability to endure the trauma they cause to the body and should be accomplished by increasing volume to a reasonable level rather than increasing volume and intensity simultaneously. It is often more productive for triathletes like you to practice easy and frequent running rather than performing occasional high-load run sessions, which often lead to injury and prevent you from executing key workouts within the other disciplines.

4. Allocate time according to your goals.

If your goal is to finish the race as fast as possible, you should not give each discipline equal time. Be strategic with your time distribution, and make sure to consider the upside of each discipline. For example, the swim is likely around ten percent of total race time compared with the bike, which will be about 40 to 50 percent of your total race time.

This means your training should also give more focus on improving your bike strength. However, for other races like the draft-legal triathlon, the swim comprises a more significant portion of the race, which means you need to spend more training time on this, especially if you are a weak swimmer.

For most triathletes who are strapped with time, striving for proficiency in the water should be a top goal. You don’t need to swim much to maintain a level of swimming fitness. Once you achieve your desired ability, you can perform two to three targeted swim sessions quite well each week.

5. Establish your intensity zones and track your fitness metrics

If you want to train efficiently, you need to do your workouts with appropriate intensities. Spending time in certain intensity zones helps your body adapt uniquely to that zone.

However, performing workouts with precision requires knowing your zones and tracking your intensity in real-time. To track your fitness, do regular field tests to develop your unique training zones and gather the data that will allow you to measure your effort in real-time, either through heart rate, pace, or power.

Every minute of your training must have a purpose. Find out what this purpose is, and understand how it fits into each respective workout.

Establish your intensity zones and track your fitness metrics

6. Recover intelligently

The importance of recovery is rarely considered in the low-volume training approach. But a more significant percentage of an efficient training plan involves intensity, so recovery is even more essential to relieving the fatigue that these workouts cause.

Resting is when your body gets stronger, not when exercising. Going hard every day can harm your endocrine system, mess with your mood, and sabotage your performance. Avoid burn out by taking recovery seriously. Prioritize rest, nutrition, and safety, and have the courage to back down on the intensity when needed. This will allow you to perform challenging key sessions and progress more efficiently.

Triathlon is notably time-consuming. But while performing well at three sports requires substantial sacrifice, an intelligent approach to training can help you achieve remarkable gains without risking other areas of your life.

If you want to further maximize your performance without spending all your time swimming, biking, and running, we recommend hiring a triathlon training coach. At Team Enduro, we offer customized training plans that aim to provide you with the structure, analysis, and 1:1 mentorship that will help you reach your triathlon goals. Call us today at + 303-456-6969 or send us an email at to benefit from our efficient training plans!