Striking a training balance is the key to continued improvement, says Tim George
Athletes who want to increase their performance will often be given this tip: swim with swimmers, cycle with cyclists
and run with runners. With that in mind, I often coach athletes who see every session as a chance to push themselves and enjoy the challenge of going hard each time.
The problem, though, is that after a couple of months these athletes are tired, and their initial improvements have plateaued.
As a triathlete trying to juggle three disciplines, it is important to keep a healthy balance of intensity across all of them.
One way of doing this is to split the club sessions you can attend and alternate them each week.
For example, in week one you could attend the track run and threshold swim, week two would see you at the club turbo and tempo run sessions, while week three would be the threshold swim and club ride.
This approach allows you to maximise the benefits of group training sessions by being fully recovered and rested for them. With all the other demands on your time, sometimes less (with greater quality) is more.
An alternative is to have different blocks, where you focus on one of the three sports. For example you could cut back your bike and run volume but attend all the club swim sessions for a month, then switch focus to another discipline.
So in month one you would attend all the club swim sessions, in month two it would be the bike sessions and in month three, the run sessions.
If you try this approach, make sure that overall you keep a balance of intensity across the week to allow you to train consistently.
This is the best way to see guaranteed results. To avoid boredom, you could halve the cycles into fortnights instead of months, or perhaps slot in a gentle session of the other disciplines into each cycle.
The benefits of rotating are both physical and psychological, including more time for recovery and adaptation, and less risk of injury. Rotating also ensures there are no boring weekly routines as your body is continually adapting to changing demands.
You’ll also find there’s a clearer indication of progress, improved resilience to the unexpected and mental freshness.
Maximise your specialism
Clapham Chasers started as a running club, which means that at our track sessions you’ll find no shortage of people to encourage you to work hard.
There is no doubt this is excellent training but it is important to make sure you keep an eye on how it fits into your individual training. As an example, for the top Clapham Chasers runners, ‘Tuesday Track’ will be their highest intensity session of the week.
They will probably run another five times but at much lower intensity to ensure recovery and adaptation.