Listen to Rich Strauss and Patrick McCrann discuss this topic in more detail on a podcast.
As an adult living and working in the real world, you know that time is your most precious commodity. You can make more money, you can buy more stuff, but there is only so much of your time to go around. Once you spend it, it's gone forever. From this simple fact we draw three time investment principles to help guide your training.
Time Investment Principle #1: Any discussion of how to train must begin with a discussion of how much time you have available to train.
Triathletes are predisposed to frame most training discussions around volume: how much, how far, how long should I train? We also tend to look to two primary sources for training advice: the former pro turned coach, or the local fast guy. But before you listen to the advice of either, ask yourself one question: "Does this person's lifestyle and available training time, closely resemble my own?"
The Former Pro: His job was to train, eat, and sleep...nothing more, which gave him the ability to train 30 or more hours per week. If that former pro can't step back from his or her perspective, and frame the training discussion around your constraints--busy age grouper with a fixed and limited amount of time to devote to training--we advise you to significantly discount or ignore their training advice. Quite simply, your life conditions are very different so your training solution must be different.
The Local Fast Guy: Again, ask yourself if their life conditions resemble yours. If yes, they may be a valuable learning resource for you. But if they are single, self-employed, don't have kids, enjoy limitless time to train, and they are not able to frame their advice with your training constraints in mind, you should discount their advice as well.
Time Investment Principle #2: What is your return on investment (ROI) on race day for every training session (and dollar) invested?
Your time is limited and we've told you to discount much of the advice you hear, so what are you left with? The same principle you likely use to make a lot of decisions in your real life: Compare your ROI for each choice and make good investments.
Before you ride six hours on a Sunday, invest two hours of training in a masters swim session or weight room visit, or drop big money on a carbon aero widget, just ask yourself: "What is this time or money investment going to get me on race day?"
Good Investments Vs. Bad Investments
- 45-90 minutes of hard interval training per week on the bike
- Well-planned tempo running intervals
- Running frequency
- 1-on-1 swim lessons, especially with underwater video
- Training with pace (ie, purchasing a GPS or training on a measured run course)
- Aero helmet
- Training with power
- Bike fit