When consulting with potential athletes, we get a lot of questions regarding future training. Most often we don’t have straight forward answers for the individual and rather have to give the response, “It depends.” While people want concrete, solid answers, the trajectory of a season will look different for everyone. Though we all want simple, cut and dry solutions that help solve the mystery of triathlon training, at the end of the day, the potential athlete will have way more questions than we have answers.
Below are the three main questions we get and why the answer to every single one of them is, “It depends.”
How many hours do I need to train?
While we all want an answer of direct hours trained, quite frankly, we will not know the amount of training an athlete will do until the hours are completed. When identifying training volume, we take into account how much time the athlete can train, their goals, professional and career obligations, family, past injuries and what type of training will result in the most positive adaptations. Some athletes perform well with lower volume and higher intensities, while others respond well to higher volume with lower intensities. Every athlete is different; having different adaptation rates due to life stress, genetics and current fitness levels. No simple answer, formula, or algorithm can figure this information out.
What will a week of training look like?
While we have general models we follow, the layout of a week varies drastically from athlete to athlete. First, we need to find a training stress load that works for the athlete. This will factor in current fitness and background in sport. Some athletes may have 1 workout a day and a rest day or two, while more fit clients may have double workouts 7 days a week. In addition to fitness, we also take into consideration life commitments. If the athlete works a demanding, full time job and has a family it is likely this individual will have fewer weekday sessions. On the other hand, a recent graduate who ran collegiately, living on their own may not have many limitations on their schedule. This leads to different periodizations of the training schedule.
How much faster can I go?
While we like to think we can make just about anyone faster, there are a lot of elements to think about. Is the athlete recently coming back from a serious injury? If so, the goal for a season may be to get back to competing. We must also look at the athlete’s background and what their past training has looked like. If an athlete has never had a formal set plan, they can improve dramatically and quickly as there may be a lot of speed potential. However, if an athlete has 10 years of solid training under their belt, improvements may be slower though eliciting a new training stimulus will likely yield positive results.