Jasper Blake

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - GEAR -

B78 Coach­ing, Vic­to­ria

The best thing time-crunched ath­letes can do is to ap­ply stress at higher in­ten­si­ties for shorter du­ra­tions. In­ter­vals of one to five min­utes at, or above, your lac­tate thresh­old are some of the most valu­able ses­sions that a time-crunched ath­lete can do. These in­ter­vals are in­tense and re­quire ap­pro­pri­ate rest, but you only need 15 to 25 min­utes at that ef­fort to elicit a train­ing re­sponse. The trap most ath­letes fall into is not go­ing hard enough dur­ing these in­ter­vals. Two to four of these ses­sions (one or two swim, one bike, one run) ev­ery week will make a big dif­fer­ence.

Ide­ally, even if you are time crunched, you are hit­ting three or more ses­sions in each sport ev­ery week. This be­comes tricky with time-crunched ath­letes who may only have time for one ses­sion daily dur­ing the week. Brick, or tran­si­tion, work­outs can be a good way to hit two of the sports in one ses­sion when time is tight.

It’s more im­por­tant to fo­cus on time spent at spe­cific ef­forts than it is to fo­cus on over­all mileage ev­ery week given that mileage can be af­fected by ter­rain, weather con­di­tions and other fac­tors. I en­cour­age ath­letes not to get too hung up on mileage. The ex­cep­tion is if they are pre­par­ing for a long-dis­tance race where the dis­tances can be daunt­ing and the men­tal con­fi­dence gained by hit­ting cer­tain dis­tances is im­por­tant, es­pe­cially on the bike.

An ath­lete who has lots of time to train can en­gage in train­ing blocks that fo­cus more on vol­ume as the pri­mary stres­sor. But even time­crunched ath­letes need to be able to com­mit one or two days ev­ery week for eight to 12 weeks lead­ing into a full-dis­tance race where they can do four-hour (or more) rides and runs of two hours and longer. That said, the abil­ity to han­dle this type type of train­ing load can be de­vel­oped in other ways that don’t re­quire as much time: hill run­ning, for ex­am­ple, is a great way to de­velop this area with­out long mileage.

Time-crunched ath­letes al­ways need to be mind­ful of how they are ap­ply­ing stress to their bod­ies. Stress trig­gers a train­ing re­sponse and sub­se­quent adap­ta­tion to a new level of fit­ness. Time-crunched ath­letes need to home in on what those stress loads need to be and get rid of any “junk mileage.” They should also in­cor­po­rate strate­gies to max­i­mize their time in work­outs. A short, spe­cific core strength work­out can be in­cor­po­rated im­me­di­ately be­fore or after swim, bike or run ses­sions. Five- to 15-minute ses­sions are enough to ac­ti­vate spe­cific mus­cle groups and will make a dif­fer­ence. Brick, or tran­si­tion work­outs, al­low two of the three sports to be tar­geted in one ses­sion, too.

For time-crunched ath­letes the big­gest chal­lenge is to work hard enough for a long enough time pe­riod. A 45-minute ride at full-dis­tance race pace isn’t long enough to get a train­ing re­sponse, so you are prob­a­bly bet­ter off do­ing in­ter­vals at a higher in­ten­sity. But high-in­ten­sity in­ter­vals re­quire more rest, so you can’t sim­ply do those ev­ery day.

Fo­cus on be­ing as con­sis­tent as you can. Time-crunched ath­letes usu­ally do well with a set weekly rou­tine. Max­i­mize the time you can spend swim­ming, bik­ing and run­ning and don’t miss work­outs. Stop look­ing at other peo­ple’s data and fo­cus on ap­ply­ing spe­cific types of train­ing stress, with as much con­sis­tency and ap­pro­pri­ate re­cov­ery, as you can.

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