Written by Jesse Vondracek, Professional Triathlete and TriSports Elite Team Member
In the sport of triathlon, we have information about training being hurled at us from every direction. We have the best minds in our sport, plus leaders in the individual sports of swimming, biking, and running all dispensing advice. They are telling us about our zones, both blue and red, and by numbers as well. We have our lactate threshold, V02 max, and metabolic rate numbers and we haven’t even gotten to the power meter yet. After reading the latest magazine articles, training bibles, and introduction to triathlon books, you must have a great handle on how to train…right? Or, you are more likely totally confused by articles that contradict each other on what to do and when to do it; I was confused too. It took me about twenty books and two years worth of magazine subscriptions to come up with the most basic and important principle of training: consistency.
Essential Training Principle
Consistency trumps everything. If you consistently train, you will get faster. It is that simple. Some periodization will help you increase the rate at which you improve, and help you to be fit at the correct times, but consistency alone will make you faster. I get hung up on my long training sessions. Triathletes gain much of their confidence from long swim, bikes, and runs; going into a race it’s nice to know you survived a few 5km swims. However, my best races have not resulted from any “magic” workouts. It has been the opposite, when I put in consistent, unexciting workouts for several months in a row, I achieve the most fitness.
What consistency means is very individualized based on time, goals, and durability. It also applies in two ways: how the week is structured and how the training block is set up. Consistency each week means that workouts are done almost every day, but none of these workouts absolutely kill you. Some are hard, some are easy, but you can always get out the door the next day. The training block is set up to ensure you can maintain your weekly hours each week for several weeks in a row. A simple way to look at what consistency means for you is to evaluate how much training you can easily manage in a week and still function. Whether that is eight hours or 28 hours, that will be your stating point when planning your training cycle.
Schedule Training Cycles
To get started, schedule a couple three to four week cycles with a few easy days, and an easier week between each cycle. Give yourself a reasonable window of hours to complete each week, and see what happens with two months of consistent training. It is important to balance both high intensity workouts with easier recovery sessions. This may seem counterintuitive to consistent training, but I assure you, it is not. Consistency is managing the quantity and duration of the training cycles.
Consistently Train with Purpose
The last and very important piece of consistency is the quality of each training session. Your sessions should be split into recovery workouts and workouts that are hard sessions. Without going into great detail on the many ways to structure sessions, the basic idea is that every single workout should have a purpose. Some sessions are planned to make you feel better for training the next day. Others are intended to stress your body so that your body will adapt to that stress…meaning you will get faster. Consistently define each training session’s purpose.
Consistency in the quantity and duration of workouts, coupled with a variety of hard and easy workouts will help you gain fitness and hopefully have a little fun!