It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

May 01, 2013

A Typical Triathlon Training Week

Sometimes I don’t blog for weeks and sometimes my blogs are all over the place.  I post about races and what’s going on in my life, but sometimes I forget to actually post about training. 

I do train – A LOT.  I workout many more hours than most of my friends who are all faster than me.  Sometimes, it’s hard, because I feel like I’m one of the most dedicated people I know when it comes to training, but it doesn’t always translate into results.  I typically train 8 to 10 hours per week.  I know I need to focus on more quality workouts vs quantity, but I often find this difficult, especially with triathlon training.  This is where I really wish I was wealthy and could afford a coach (yes my husband offers to coach me all the time and yes, I turn him down every time – we can’t be married and him be my coach plus what does he know about triathlon lol).  I can plan an interval or speed workout, but many mornings I’m just to tired or sore from the previous days workout(s) to make that happen.  I end up putting in plenty of miles, but not necessarily plenty of miles at the best effort.

Pic of me coming out of the water at the Racine 70.3

My typical/ideal training week looks like this:

Mon am – Strength Train
Mon pm – Bike (approx. 1 hour)
Tues am – Run (3 to 4 miles)
Tues pm – Swim (1 – 1.5 miles)
Wed am – Strength Train
Wed pm Bike (1 hour)
Thurs am – Run (3 – 4 miles)
Thurs pm – Swim (1 – 1.5 miles)
Fri – OFF
Sat – Long Run (8 to 12 miles)
Sun – Long Bike & Long Swim (Bike 2 hours + and swim 1.5 miles +)
With triathlon it’s recommended that you get in 3 workouts of each discipline each week.  I have added strength training, which I would love to do 3 times a week to get stronger and reduce injury.  I would love to do yoga once or twice a week, but just don’t know how to fit that in.  My general rule of thumb is to have one “easy” workout in each discipline each week, one endurance focused workout, and one speed or tempo type workout.  Many times though, the speed or tempo workouts turn in to “easy” workouts because I just don’t have the energy for much more. It’s a difficult balance, I have truly yet to figure out after 3 years. 

This summer, I am adding in Track Workouts to the mix.  My tri group offers free track workouts on Wed night (so that schedule above will need to change).  I went to my first one last Wed.  It was extremely intimidating because the majority of people there were former college runner and they are all freaking FAST!  I was embarrassingly slow.  We did several 400s (1 time around the track) and the majority of them were done before I rounded the first corner.  There were a few slower runners, but no one even close to me.  Out of a group of about 15 people, I was by far and away the slowest. It is really hard to stick something like that out.  It’s hard to be the slowest.  And not just a little slower, but super slow – like clap for you as you finish each lap slow.  I appreciate them being encouraging, but it was actually kind of demeaning although I know that wasn’t the intention. Anyway, I’ve decided to stick with it.  It’s free coaching!  It pushes me outside of my comfort zone, and hopefully will genuinely help me get faster, and maybe someday I won’t be the slowest person out there.  I am also incorporating Masters Swims back into my swim training….trying for at least once a week.

I just wish I was fast or at least average at one sport – just one.  It’s difficult to know where to focus – (which sport to focus on) when you are back of the pack in all three.  I know running will probably benefit me the most.  If I can get faster at running, than it would probably improve my triathlon times overall.  So for now, I’m going to try to figure out how to get in all 3 disciplines, but focus on the run.  The track workouts are a start.
Anyone have any great training ideas or tips to share?


  1. What I find gets me faster is more miles and speedwork. You need to run some uncomfortably fast miles too so you get used to the speed. I'm sure Jim has already mentioned that. I can understand the whole husband/coach thing but it wouldn't hurt to have him put together a training plan for you. Go through it all without talking about it each week and then talk about it after your key race. This way it won't be annoying week after week.

  2. Tir training is sooo different than marathon training. I would suggest doing more bricks. You have to get used to running on heavy tired legs(at least for a half IM you do) You are doing great!!!!!!

  3. How did you like Racine? I'm signed up for it this year. Where did you stay?

  4. Training with faster people will make you faster in the long run, make it a game, each week, try to close the gap just a little more than the previous week, before you know it, you will be running with them

  5. I can't offer up anything different from what the others have said but I love ya no matter how fast or slow you are :)

  6. Ouch, I would feel awkward at a workout like that, too.

    The things that I believe have made me a faster runner are just the obvious things: tempo runs and track workouts. Good for you for sticking with the faster people, though. They'll help you in the end!

  7. But you know what, Michael? You are out there anyway even if you are slow. That takes a lot of courage. I really admire you for that. I would like to try a sprint tri, but all I do is keeping saying it. (Although I would have to learn to swim first!)

    As a side note, I joined a running group at the first of the year to get faster. These members are also former or current college track stars so I was very intimidated. I kinda lost interest in going because I didn't know anyone so I stopped. I encourage you to stick with the running group as it will make you stronger and faster!

  8. Last year I was in a training group and was always last, unless one other woman was there who ran at my speed (loved her!) I saw another runner at a race last fall and said, "Hey Amanda, do you remember me?" She said, "Oh yes! You and your friend were so funny." I realized that either I had I made a joke of myself as a slow runner - probably because I was embarrassed. Sympathy for you in that situation! I'm like you - just striving to be run at an average pace!

  9. I don't know how you do so many sessions per week. And I'm not surprised that sometimes your speed sessions turn into easy ones. I nearly always have a rest day after speed because it knocks me around. I can't imagine having to back up again on the same afternoon to do another workout.

  10. I would've felt the same way if they were clapping for me. They probably don't know it can be a little insensitive. Either way, you are AMAZING and will keep getting better. YOU DID A FREAKING 1/2 IRONMAN!! who cares how fast other people are. You rock period. Keep at it, keep focused, and everything will fall into place. I just did my first triathlon and only hope I will be brave enough to do longer distances in the future like you.

  11. Swim with me. You'll feel great. The people I swim with - whom I work with and know - are all literally twice as fast as I am. I am getting out - after usually starting earlier - and they are all done showers and on their way to work. I have no clue how to get faster. Running is okay although I have slowed down a lot since my sprained ankle. Biking - again - what are they doing to be so fast. I feel your pain!
    I liked reading your schedule. I have no clue - again - what I am doing with training. I have chosen to swim twice, bike 3 and run 4. That seems to work for me. I have already done 3 doubles this week. It's hard to fit it in. Shouldn't we win something for getting out there and doing it? Keep it up. You always inspire me - truly!!

  12. Michael-

    I don't have any great training trips or ideas. I just want to take this moment to say when I read your blog I'm both inspired and sometimes it hits so close to home that I want to cry or rejoice because I know how you feel.

    I haven't made the leap to tri's yet but I assure you they are on the list and mostly because you give me hope that I can do it and everyday I feel like I'm getting just that much closer to it.

    Reading this post reminds me of the first time I went to my run group. I showed up in non-run attire because frankly I didn't know it really existed, really couldn't afford it or seen the value and how can pants that skinny really keep me warm in the winter (I have discovered surprinsingly that insulated run tights do keep me warm, who would have thought that?!) and with the self-deprecating attitude of 'I'm slow, I'll be in the back'. I was.
    That first run I stayed up with the group for less than a 1/2 mile. I kept them in hearing distance for another 1/2 mile and then only in my eyesight for about an half mile. After 1 1/2 miles I made a turn and headed back because I had no clue where I was at and going further would have gotten me lost.

    The next week I was embarassed to go. Dreaded it. I laid in bed in my workout clothes that I slept in and my husband finally said, 'Your alarm went off. Aren't you suppose to be leaving?'. He drove me to the next session and I remember the gut feeling I had in my stomach and wanting to cry. I even think at one point I told him to turn around I wasn't going. But I did and he forced me out of the car (I remember some not so good thoughts about him at that moment).

    But the second run wasn't so bad. I was still slow but there was someone that wasn't lightning speed faster than me and I could keep her in my vision and finished it. I went again and that time there were two people that wanted to do more miles at a slower pace and finally I had company. Now I'm faster, still not half the group's speed but I have others that I can run with and my time keeps getting better little by little. More importantly the group looks forward to seeing me. I have friends there. They inspire me. We run together outside of the group and thoroughly enjoy their company. I think it's one of the things that has helped this sport stick this time.

    This year I've joined the trail run group and I'm starting a bike group and I hope my expereiences are the same or better with them. I am confident that you will get better and faster and stronger. Why? Because you have an amazing drive. It's hard to compete with the faster crowd but when you are there, you ARE part of it. You may be the slower end but who cares? Soon you will be kicking ass there too. Hang in there sister. Keep inspiring. Keep training. Keep blogging. You rock!!

    Oh, I do yoga once a week and it's huge!! If you can find the time and the right teacher, do it!! Your mind, body, muscles and your spirit will thank you. Promise. If you ever make it to my neck of the woods (clinton, MI) I will take you for a session at my studio and you will see. Namaste!!

  13. Hello Michael, I am new to your blog but having read this post, I felt compelled to comment. First of all, YOU ROCK. Period. You are doing what a very few people can and dedicate a large portion of your free time to it, that takes commitment and a very strong character, so kudos to you.
    As to your program, it looks almost identical than mine (I average 10-12h of training per week). What I found that makes a huge difference is to train with other people. Not only I do most of it with my husband, who is faster than me, but I also became part of a local tri club last year for about $25 a year. I also hired a coach from the club, who I pay $80/month, so it's really not that expensive. I see him every week at the swim classes and sometimes they have biking clinics and speed work on the track. But most important, he knows how to make those biking and running workouts count.
    So I'm going to share with you a few tips. Try to run at least once a week with a negative split (second half faster). On your long runs, do something like this: 1.5mile slow, 3 miles at 1/2 mar pace, 3 miles at 10k pace, 1.5 miles easy. Do some hill work, 4-5 repeats of sprinting up the hill, with the same w/u and c/d as before. You will eventually see improvement. When you combine those with easy/hard/hilly bike workouts, your overall speed is going to increase. I've only started to see results recently, but they have helped increase my confidence and not be afraid of pushing my limits. Good luck and don't hesitate to email me for more tips or advice. Best of luck!

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  15. Ha! We should run together! When I did a 1500 race at an open meet my son wanted to race at, I lost to race walkers....badly.

    Concentrate on the bike or run, because I can tell you that the only event I'm ever decent in is the swim....and it makes zero difference. I hear 'on your left' for the entire bike and run. Sigh.

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