It can be difficult for a first time triathlete to imagine training for 3 different sports. It can be difficult for an athlete thinking about training for an Ironman build the necessary volume to complete an Iron Distance Triathlon. Before you overwhelm yourself with the unknown, talk to an experienced coach to educate yourself with how training plans are structured and the time you can commit to your plan.
Ultimately frequency, duration and intensity varies from person to person and the necessary training for a sprint distance can be done in 2-4 hours /week and Ironman Training can done in 8-15 hours per week with the majority of your training on the weekends. However, in order to achieve the frequency for each sport it can require two workouts per day – one in the morning and one in the evening or two disciplines back to back.
A coach can help you look at the hours your have available and piece the puzzle together to determine what distance you can realistically train for. Do you consistently have up to 5 or 15 plus hours a week to train and how much do you want spend training. Training frequency, volume and intensity will change thought the training year. During the fall winters months I like a heavier emphasis on swimming and core training and getting the body ready to hit the pavement come springtime.
The frequency of training sessions can vary are are dependent on the availability and needs of each of the athlete and will change though out the duration of the training.
Duration and intensity are dependent on each other. Higher intensity workouts take less time, and lower intensity workouts can take more time. The key is to include both into your plan
Total Volume of Training
Total volume to training depends on the distance of the event you are training for. A beginner athlete should plan to 3-8 hours/week, intermediate athlete should plan 8-15 hours/week and advance Elite athlete 12-25 hours/week. Weekly volume is split about 15-20% in the pool, 50-55% on the bike and 20-35% own the run. An athlete that can commit to 10 hours a week of training time would spend 1.2-2 hours in the pool, 5-5.5 hours on the bike and 2-3.5 hours running. Often adjusting these percentages to spend a little more time on your weaker areas. The proper progression with regards to volume and intensity into your program, is to incorporate 10-20% every 1-2 weeks.
Every workout will consist of a warm up (WU), main set (MS) and cool down (CD). Intensity is based on heart rate on a zone 1-5 scale, rate of perceived effort (RPE), pace or power determined but your baseline fitness tests.
Warming up is generally 10-20 minute of easy, zone 1-2, RPE 1-3, effort easy allowing your muscles and joints to loosen up and be ready for the main work set. A variety of drills, should be performed in every warm-up. Slowly build the intensity of the warm up in order to prepare your body for the main set. The main set will have a specific purpose and composed of intervals of varying length and intensity. The cool down allows one’s body to gradually recover from the main set, and allow your heart rate to decrease before you move on with your activities of daily living.
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Author: Wendy Mader is the co-founder and owner of T2Coaching and has made a lifelong commitment to fitness, sports, coaching, and triathlon. From her youth as a competitive swimmer to her current career in the fitness industry, her dedication shines. Wendy is a former collegiate swimmer and has 25 years experience in triathlon including 15 Ironman’s. Wendy is also an Ironman University Certified Coach, an 8x Kona finisher and author of “Ironman Training Made Easy”. Wendy recently moved to Georgia with her husband and dogs after nearly two decades living in Colorado.