Going from two sports to three sports really changes your mentality. When you’re training with one or two it’s not hard to split it out evenly say over two weeks. When you add a third sport it’s trying to find a balance. In a given week you will almost always slack with one sport because ‘life happens’.
In an ideal world you are swimming 3-4 days a week, biking 4-5 days a week, & running 3-4 days a week. If you were to maximize this that’s 13 workouts in seven days. What about that appointment you have after work or those two days you are picking-up/dropping off your child. It’s so easy to miss workouts because ‘life happens’!
When I started triathlon training my mentality changed. I was always thinking when is my next workout! Every Sunday evening I would look at my week and figure how I could get my workouts in. I learned that Monday through Thursday tended to be the most hectic but I could still get in 5-6 workouts in those four days including a day-off. Wednesday was one day I had the most time. I worked from home so I could swim in the morning. In the afternoon I would do a five mile run then do either group bike ride or do a ride on my own.
Friday through Sunday like most triathletes we get a majority of our workouts in. We tend to recover or take days-off earlier in the week. I also learned once the weather got better that it didn’t make sense to swim on weekends unless it was outdoors. So normally I would swim Friday morning or in the evening and then not swim again until Monday. Friday afternoons were mostly bike rides with an occasional run. Saturday and Sunday consisted of a long bike ride and a long run as well broken out into separate days.
Full distance triathlon training programs tend to be 30+ weeks. That’s a long time for a structured training program. I feel doing 30+ weeks leads to burnout. I know it’s broken out and you get some rest weeks where you really cut it back. If you are doing an Ironman as a bucket list item and you’re one and done then I think this is fine but, most marathon training programs tend to be 18 weeks. Adding an extra 12 weeks of structured training is really difficult.
For you diehards and you’re committed to doing 1/2 or full distance races for several years then I think it’s all about building up to the distance. I was lucky where I found running for a few years transitioned into biking the added swimming. It’s helpful if you have a few marathons under your belt before taking up the 1/2 or full distances. After about mile 18-20 of a marathon it becomes very mental no matter how sore you are. You can’t teach this. You just need to experience it for yourself.
Biking becomes very mental as well after a certain distance. For me it’s after about mile 80. Joining a club gives you the opportunity to train with others and do several long distances a year. More on join a cycling club in a later topic. For a non-biker hearing that you bike say 40-60 miles sounds like a lot but in reality doing those miles is easier on the body and 5-7 mile run. Biking is about building up to these longer distances and realizing it’s about time and commitment.
Swimming is by far my weakest sport. This was the only sport of the three where I would watch video’s on how to improve in the water. If you are a novice I recommend doing this during the winter months and joining a masters group. For the first two months I would go to the pool 5 days a week just to work on my stroke. I was trying to improve my kick. To this day I don’t have it down. So after awhile I focused on improving my stroke and working on being comfortable in the pool.
Triathlon training is very time consuming but doing it the right way can seem like less of a burden on your family. There are many discussions about this on forums and how you can train for a 1/2 or a full distance triathlon without causing much stress to your family. Most triathlete with families tend to get up about 4 AM and doing some training before anyone is even awake. They will do an exercise at lunch while at work and then another workout in the evening after the kids are in bed. Weekends for families are much the same. They will get up before dawn and do either a long ride or a long run.
I started thinking about competing in triathlon’s in the spring of 2012. I knew at some point I wanted to complete an Ironman and after about four months of swim training in early 2013 I made the decision to commit to doing an Ironman. More details coming on Why Ironman? in my next topic.