In this entry I will detail what I think are the staples that make up a successful triathlon training program. This year I am currently working with 4 athletes and they will recognize what they see on this page.
Swimming- Train for efficiency. I am yet to consider myself an efficient swimmer. This comes easier for some than others. Through lots of drill work efficiency can be developed. The gains made from improvements in swim efficiency far outweigh the gains from endlessly swimming more yards. Small improvements in efficiency will lead to big improvements in time. This is why I believe investing a little money in someone knowledgeable about swimming technique may be worth it. If you choose not to hire someone to help with efficiency there are lots of youtube videos on swim drills and efficiency that you can find at no cost. I enjoy learning from a website at www.swimsmooth.com
Biking- Early in the season I try to get a big base of mileage. Not much of the mileage is done at a high level of intensity. Once each week early in the season I do a bike interval session. The intervals may be something like 5x3 minutes hard following each with 2 minutes easy or my favorite staple workout is 5x5 minutes hard following each with 5 minutes easy. These are done at an incredibly high level where I have to be fresh or I won't be able to hit my desired power output. I have a Cycleops Powerbeam Pro trainer that allows me to control the power output that I pedal at. If I can't pedal at the desired power output I just won't be able to pedal or I'll be forced to reduce the desired output. As the season progresses and I round into shape with a good base I cut my number of days a week riding back from 6-7 early in the season to 4-5. When I get to where I'm only riding 4-5 days a week 2 of them are HARD interval workouts and 1 of the rides is a long ride. The term "long" is relative for training and racing goals. Being that I choose to race Ironman distance a "long" ride for me is typically 90-120 miles. Before an Ironman distance race from 8 weeks out down to 2 weeks out I like to get a minimum of 5 100+ mile rides in. I do one of them every week.
Running- I am a big believer in two weekly hard sessions and a weekly long run. The hard sessions consist of 1 hard interval workout. That may be something like 6x 3 minutes hard following each with 90 seconds easy jogging or 3x 1 mile @ (5:25 early season or 5:10 later) following each with 2-3 minutes of rest. The other hard session I believe is key each week is a tempo session. I do tempo runs about every week. When I first begin my tempo is 1x2 miles at 6:00 pace. My tempo pace is about the same as my 1/2 marathon pace. The next week I do 2x1.5 miles at tempo for a total distance of 3. Then I do 1x2.5 the following week...2x2 the week after...and I build up to where I'm doing 8 miles at tempo pace and as I get into good shape that pace drops to about 5:45-5:50/mile pace. In addition to those 2 key hard workouts each week I believe in a weekly long run that is at a comfortable pace. This year I started my long run at 60 minutes. The term "long" is relative just like on the bike. I have built up to 80 minutes by the end of week 4. If I recovery extremely well I add 5-10 minutes the following week. If the long run was a stretch and left me at all sore or tight I stick with it for another week before adding time. For an Ironman I like to get 6 weeks in a row (from 8 weeks out down to 2 weeks out) running 18-22 miles for the long run. I typically do that the day after the long ride but sometimes I pick the day with nicer weather to ride long and run on the day that isn't quite as nice since the time spent in the elements is a bit less than half.
Those staple workouts are in addition to the easy recovery runs, rides, and strength training I do at Barre563. I attend Barre563 3x a week until mid-April which is when I will begin swimming. At that time I switch to twice a week at Barre563 hoping to have already gained a good amount of strength from my first 2 months of training. Good luck and DREAM BIG!!