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How Do I Train for 3 Sports a Week?

September 7, 2016 Triathlon Comments Off on How Do I Train for 3 Sports a Week?
how do i train 3 sports a week

It’s a question every aspiring triathlete asks when faced with the daunting prospect of training for multiple disciplines at once. Here’s the simple answer.

Start by Determining How Many Training Sessions You Have to Work With.

There are a finite number of hours in any given week—168 to be exact. Combine this with the seemingly infinite number of professional, social, and family obligations we all face, and it doesn’t leave much time for training—or does it? Even the busiest of us can carve out some quality training time from our weekly schedules.

At a minimum, you need three sessions per week to train, one for each sport. The duration and intensity will vary, depending on your goals and race distance, but you CAN get across the finish line of a sprint, olympic, or even 70.3 triathlon on just three high-quality training sessions per week.

If you’re like most triathletes, you can probably find time for at least 6 weekly training sessions, especially if you have weekends/days off to work with. This lets you train each sport more than once per week, creates opportunities to vary the intensity of your sessions, and leaves at least 1 full rest day in your training schedule.

If you can fit more than 6 training sessions in your weekly schedule, great! Add some strength training and increase the number/frequency of low-intensity workouts. Just be disciplined about limiting the volume of your high-intensity work and pay close attention to how your body feels. Keep at least 1 rest day (no training) in your weekly schedule and don’t hesitate to add an extra rest day if fatigue starts affecting the quality of your workouts.

Write out a basic training plan.

Putting a plan on paper makes it easier to budget time and stick to your training schedule. Don’t feel you have to map out all your training at once. Just start with a week or a month and build a basic framework. You can use the three examples below as a guide. You will have to determine the duration (use time instead of distance) of each session based on your available time, the race distance you are training for, and your current level of fitness. (Even if you have the time, resist the urge to go from zero training to 10+ sessions per week. That is a recipe for injury.)

3-Session Example

  • Day 1: Swim — Warm up, build intensity, include intervals, cool down.
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Bike — Warm up, build intensity, include intervals, finish with short run off the bike whenever possible.
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Run — Warm up, build intensity, include intervals, cool down.
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Rest

Notes: Because you are incorporating some high-intensity work into every session, try to separate all sessions with a rest day. Also, switch the order up from week to week.

6-Session Example

  • Day 1: Rest
  • Day 2: Bike — Warm up, build intensity, include intervals, finish with short run off the bike.
  • Day 3: Swim — Warm up, build intensity, include intervals, cool down.
  • Day 4: Run — Warm up, build intensity, include intervals, cool down.
  • Day 5: Swim — Warm up, drills, mix up intensity and duration, cool down.
  • Day 6: Long Bike — Warm up, maintain lower-intensity throughout, finish with short runs off the bike as your race approaches.
  • Day 7: Long Run — Warm up, maintain lower-intensity throughout, cool down.

Notes: To avoid getting stuck in a rut, mix up your interval lengths, swimming drills, and long bike/run routes from week to week.

9-Session Example

  • Day 1: Rest
  • Day 2: Swim — Warm up, drills, mix up intensity and duration, cool down.
  • Day 2: Bike — Warm up, build intensity, include intervals, finish with short run off the bike.
  • Day 3: Run — Warm up, build intensity, include intervals, cool down.
  • Day 4: Bike — Warm up, low-to-moderate intensity, cool down.
  • Day 4: Strength — Full body, including core.
  • Day 5: Swim — Warm up, drills, mix up intensity and duration, cool down.
  • Day 5: Run — Warm up, low-to-moderate intensity, cool down.
  • Day 6: Long Bike — Warm up, maintain lower-intensity throughout, finish with short runs off the bike as your race approaches.
  • Day 7: Long Run — Warm up, maintain lower-intensity throughout, cool down.

Notes: This example includes 3 double-session days that can be switched around as your schedule requires. If you have time for additional sessions, you could add a 3rd swim session and/or 2nd strength session. Resist the urge to eliminate the rest day in order to get in the extra sessions. Proper recovery is critical to any training plan.

Now get out there and give it a try.

What looks good on paper, may not always be the best fit for you. Listen to what your body tells you and fine-tune your training as necessary to avoid burnout and injury.



About the Author -

Richard Hostler is a competitive runner and Ironman triathlete living in southern New Hampshire. He shares his passion for endurance sports by helping both novice and experienced athletes improve their performance and achieve their goals.

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