I am a husband, a father, and a grad student. I am also an avid triathlete who likes to spend some time in the gym weight training. Sometimes it’s hard to find time for it all, but the following training plan for the busy triathlete has helped me. The schedule assumes that you have fairly good endurance and have competed in a few sprint and at least one olympic-distance triathlon. If you are not new to triathlon and extremely busy but want to improve enough to eventually compete in a full ironman triathlon, then the following training schedule is right for you.
A few important points
The following program assumes that your half ironman will be five months from when you begin training. The key to training on a busy schedule is giving yourself enough time to train and being flexible with your negotiable time (time that you have control over, such as weekends, evenings, and down time). You should also plan on competing in one olympic distance triathlon before your half ironman, preferably at the end of month 4. This will allow you to test your equipment and yourself before the big race. I have also tried to lay out the distances you will need to train each week in order to give you the flexibility to determine when you can fit training into your schedule. I would recommend putting the information in calendar form so as to provide enough off days for recovery.
Month 1-training month
· Running : You should run about 30-35 miles a week, every week during your first month of training. I have found a 6-8 mile leisurely run on M, W, and F, with the difference completed over the weekend a workable schedule.
· Cycling : Cycle 1-2 hours a week. My recommendation would be to cycle on days that you weight train.
· Swimming : Swim 2-3 times a week for an hour each. One could feasibly run and swim on the same day and weight train and cycle the following day.
Month 2-swimming month
· Swimming : This is the month you up your swimming training. Ideally you should swim 4 times a week, averaging between 2000 and 2500 yards total.
· Cycling : Cycling is still important, but should not take precedence over swimming this month. Again, couple your cycling training with weight training.
· Running : Run an 8 mile, a 9 mile, and 12 mile every week this month.
Month 3-running month
· Running : The goal this month is to increase your running endurance. You should aim for 4 running sessions a week. One long run, 16 miles, one fast run 6 miles and two relaxed runs, 10 miles each. Do not forget to stretch.
· Cycling : Cycling should still be part of your agenda but limit to one long cycle a week as far away as possible from you long run to aid recovery.
· Swimming : Swimming should take the back burner this month, but should still be an active part of your training. My recommendation is to limit weight training this month and replace that time with swimming for short fast periods (20 minutes) 3 times a week. You can also keep weight training your upper body and reduce the amount of time you spend in the water, just don’t stop swimming.
Month 4-cycling month
· Cycling : Hard cycling training begins this month. Because cycling tends to take more time than any other event, I emphasize tours of up to 60 miles on the weekends. We want to build endurance, so a 45 mile cycle on Friday followed by a 60 mile bike ride in Saturday should allow you to train and stay on top of your other responsibilities. During the last two weeks of the month you should try and cover 350 miles a week on your bike. This may mean training indoors, which is fine as long as you are logging the miles.
· Swimming : One continuous swim of 1.2 miles each week. In an Olympic size pool this comes to 40 lengths. The goal is endurance here, so just try and finish it without stopping and then work on your time later in the month.
· Running : Run 2-3 times a week for an hour. Don’t worry about distance, but go at medium pace. Weight train on the days you run.
Month 5-peak performance month
· Swimming/Cycling : Once a week practice a 1.2 mile swim followed by 56 mile bike ride. Don’t forget to time yourself.
· Cycling/Running : Once a week also practice the 56 mile bike ride followed by a half marathon. Don’t do any other training this month. And don’t forget to time yourself.
· Rest : Give yourself at least a week and a half before you compete in your first half ironman competition. Good Luck!