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How to plan training when you have limited time – Trainiask 038

On this episode of the Trainiask podcast, Shannon says she only has seven hours a week to spend on training.  She wants to know how to best distribute it over the three disciplines, swimming, biking, and running.


Triathlon Taren: Hey, what’s up [trainiacs 00:00:07], Triathlon Taren here with another addition of the Triathlon Trainiask Podcast. Where I sit on the couch with my two dogs as I am right now. Right Gracie? Can you sniff the mic? Excellent sniff, Grace. And answer your triathlon questions five days a week. Today’s question comes from Shannon.

Shannon: Hey Taren, Shannon here. I’m a new trainiac and a new triathloner. I’ve got seven hours a week to spend on training and I’m trying to figure out how to distribute it best. The swimming podcasts tell me I should swim every day. The running podcast say I should run four times a week and the biking podcasts say bike, bike, bike. And I just don’t know how to spend my seven hours. What do you suggest?

Triathlon Taren: Shannon, yes that is I think, kind of the nature of coaching. That if all you have is hammers, everything looks like a nail. So, every coach of every single event is going to say, “Yeah, do more of that. It’s the most important.” I’ll try to be impartial and I’m going to have to make some assumptions that would apply to the most amount of new triathletes who have a lack of time throughout the week.
So, as you say you’re a new trainiac. Awesome, thank you. You’re also a new triathloner. Awesome, congrats good choice. And most triathletes have a little bit of difficulty, probably the most difficulty in all the three sports with the swimming. So, what we’re looking to do with the seven hours that you’ve got is to basically, I would say, get you to a race. Get a beginner triathlete to a race confidant and fit. And I would say confidence is the number one issue.
So, I’m going to assume that you are like most triathletes but you have to work on your swim. And what we’re going to do is take the swims that you do and we’re going for the absolute best bang for your buck time that you can spend in the water. And to do that it’s not by going and swimming and swimming and swimming and swimming and swimming. When you first start into triathlon you may have me heard this many times before, you need to get comfortable breathing in the water. Having your face in the water. Being horizontal. Being comfortable with people around you.
So, a few things that I would recommend are going to and before you go into the water and even start doing a lap, you want to make sure you can go through all of those drills easily, comfortably, not feel out of breath. And then what’s going to happen is because they’re drills and you’re working on technique and not fitness, you’re going to save a fair bit of time in the water and a half hour to forty minutes focusing on one drill alone is going to be a ton of time.
Then you move on to the next drill. So, you’re using your time efficiently in the water. Go through those drills. Get comfortable in the water. And then, ideally if you can find a swim group where you can practice some of the in-pool open water swim techniques that I’ve recommended. Basically just go to You Tube and search open water swimming in a pool, Triathlon Taren. Something like that. And there are going to be some drills that you can do in a pool that is going to save you time from having to find a lake. Drive to open water and find that. And that’s going to get you ready for the swim aspect.
Now, when it comes down to time spend biking or time spent running, I would focus on two things. Number one with your run, focus on the same sort of thing. Focus on technique as opposed to logging miles. And what I would Google for that is You Tube search Triathlon Taren Chi running, and start getting in the habit of being able to run efficiently. Leaning forward, bouncing off the ground, spending not much time on the ground contact time and not slogging through the run. And for that you don’t need a ton of time. Again, 20, 30 minutes, something like that is enough to start getting your body used to doing that running motion.
And then, when it comes to the bike, yes. I would log miles and miles and miles and miles and do a ton of biking and follow up most bikes with at least a 10 minute run off the bike. So what is going to end up happening is basically I would say the best bang for your buck with time that you put in resulting in speed and endurance coming out on the other end, biking is hands down the best. Swimming you can swim for years and not get faster. Running you can run for years and not get faster. But, biking has a huge benefit to spending more time in the saddle.
So what’s going to happen is your swim workouts are going to be fairly short. Your running workouts are going to be fairly short. You’re biking workouts are going to be a little bit longer and then because you’re adding that brick workout, you’re going to be getting your body ready to reroute the blood flow really quickly as soon as you hop off the bike. And I would say that all of that put together is going to be the most efficient use of seven hours and it’s going to get you to the race maybe not absolute peak performance qualifying for the Olympics, but it’s going to overcome some of the biggest obstacles that new triathletes have. Especially in a time crunch situation.
So, Shannon I hope that that gets you going. Other triathletes, I hope that this has been helpful to you. And if you want to get your question answered here on the trainiask podcast, go to ask a question there. Feel free to give anyone you like a shutout. And while you’re there, odds are really good that you will like what we’ve got if you click up at the top at free resources. That swim drill program that I’ve got is there. A running warm up program is there. An off season strength training program, a figure out your race nutrition program, just take your pick there and we’re updating that quite often. You can just put your email in and get all those freebies. And last thing, if you’re digging these trainiask podcasts, go to I Tunes and give us a review. Helps future and aspiring trainiacs find us there. Thanks, hope you enjoy this and I will see you in the next episode.