Whether you’re a runner who likes to dabble in triathlon, a pure triathlete looking to up your running game, or someone who likes to switch things up every once in a while,

Coach Sage Canaday is going to explore how many hard training days an athlete can have per week between cycling and running.

As for the swimming part… well, we won’t really worry about that today 😂

This is a fun question for me to tackle. First disclaimer here, I am obviously not a triathlete. I have done a sprint triathlon in high school, but I’m not very good at swimming!

Considering it from a scientific, muscular, and stress-related perspective, and drawing from insights into the training routines of professional triathletes, I’d suggest one of the primary factors to first consider is whether you’re preparing for an Olympic distance triathlon or something longer like a half Ironman or Ironman distance triathlon.

The balance between high-intensity workouts and longer, endurance-focused sessions, such as extended bike rides and runs, may vary slightly depending on the distance you’re training for. The duration of your training period for a specific race type—whether it’s Olympic distance or sprint distance—might also influence the intensity of your training regimen.

Certainly, numerous factors come into play, including your pace, background, and personal experiences. Whether you began as a runner and ventured into cycling and swimming or vice versa, you’re juggling multiple disciplines—swimming, cycling, and running. It’s a complex balancing act, influenced by the time you can allocate for training and the resources at your disposal.

As your events approach, it’s essential to adapt your training blocks to address any weaknesses. For instance, early in the season, prioritize biking if it’s an area that needs improvement. When focusing on running, incorporate high-intensity sessions to make the most of your training efforts. Remember, endurance events demand superb aerobic fitness and proper hydration, so emphasize improving heart and lung efficiency while ensuring you stay well-hydrated.

Including tempo runs or longer intervals, like 2×3 miles or 2x5k at threshold pace, can prove beneficial. However, it’s crucial to be cautious when combining intense biking with running. The strain from biking, particularly during uphill climbs, can fatigue muscle fibers, potentially affecting subsequent running workouts, especially speed sessions. Thus, finding the right balance between biking and running intensity is vital for optimizing your training regimen.

While training intensely all the time isn’t enjoyable (or recommended), the low-impact nature of cycling and swimming allows for higher volume and more frequent training compared to running.

Often, when scheduling long runs or long bike rides, there’s some aspect of pace changes, vertical gain, or pushing yourself when you’re really tired. But, as I said, it’s not set in stone every week. Some weeks will require more recovery, lower volume, and maybe no hard workouts. Other weeks, you might be able to hit it with three quality workouts spread out over the week.

So, there are numerous variables to consider when training for a triathlon, including discipline balance, intensity, and recovery, and the ultimate goal is to optimize performance while minimizing the risk of burnout or injury. Tailoring your training plan to fit your individual needs, incorporating a mix of high-intensity sessions and longer endurance efforts, and allowing for adequate recovery time are key components of a successful triathlon preparation. By understanding your own limits, listening to your body, and remaining adaptable to changes in your training schedule, you can work towards achieving your endurance goals effectively. Remember, consistency, patience, and a balanced approach are paramount for success.

Happy running! (or cycling!)

  • Coach Sage Canaday