January 22, 2018

Short or Long?

Ron Saetermoe

For those of us that work for a living, finding time to train can be one of the biggest challenges you face to reaching your triathlon goals. There simply don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done.

The debate still rages on regarding how much training is the right amount. Naturally, you’ll need to train longer if you’re doing 70.3 and Ironman stuff, but how much is enough?

The legend Mark Allen seems to subscribe to the “more is better” school of triathlon training. If you’re training for an Ironman you’d better be prepared to put in 20+ hours of training per week. That’s a part-time job on top of your full-time job!

On the other hand, you’ve got Russ Jones from the “less is best” school of triathlon training. Granted, Russ specializes in shorter triathlon distances but his basic philosophy is shorter sessions but with more intensity.

So who’s right?

Here’s my take on it: they’re both right.

Let me just say that I’m a huge believer in the benefits of cycling with a trainer and running on the treadmill. Can you still become a great triathlete without these tools? Probably, but it will take more time.

Essentially the trainer and treadmill allow you to pack a huge amount of quality training into a tiny chunk of time. Generally my CompuTrainer and treadmill sessions are 60 minutes each. In order to get the same quality of training on the road I might have to do double that, or even more.

And it doesn’t stop there. Your trainer and treadmill sessions should be intense, not easy. You need to rev up the speed, watts and incline to get a real quality session. If you do, you’ll feel quite wasted afterwards but will find that it really helps improve your fitness. When I get off my CompuTrainer at the end of a tough session I can barely stand.

The benefits of the long stuff can’t be overstated either. It’s easier for me to do my long sessions on Saturday and Sunday because I rarely work an entire day during the weekends.

These sessions are more about endurance and pacing than building strength. The other benefit they have is confidence building. If you do a 100-mile bike ride in practice, that 56-mile ride for your 70.3 won’t be as intimidating.

You also benefit by incorporating the long stuff into your workouts by validating your nutrition plan. Less important for sprint distance races but your nutrition plan becomes more important as your races get longer.

So to really maximize the benefits of you limited training time the answer is short AND long.

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