Low ROI Investments:
- Weight training
- Swimming year round
- Race wheels, especially a rear disk
- Easy cycling volume
- Long, slow, distance running, to the exclusion of tempo work
Time Investment Principle #3: Training time cost is variable across seasons.
Your primary training input is time: time on the bike, time packing a bag, driving to the pool, swimming, showering, etc. Principles 1 and 2 help you decide how and where to apply these time inputs across your training week, but the final piece is understanding that not all time is created equal. Your time can be more or less expensive depending on the time of year and your lifestyle constraints. Let's discuss two typical examples:
Inexpensive Time: 3.5-hour weekend ride in June
The sun rises at 5 a.m. You can be on the bike by 5:30 and home by 9:00 with time to shower, put on your mom or dad hat, and be a responsible human being for the rest of day. You can do that ride in the sun, with your friends, adding a valuable social component to your training. Your goal race, Ironman Louisville or an August half Ironman is about eight to 10 weeks away so this investment in June makes sense to all parties involved, especially your family.
Expensive Time: 3.5-hour trainer ride in December
It's 5:30 a.m. in December, in Chicago; it's 32 degrees out, and you swing your leg over your bike on the trainer. You cast your head forward to your A-race, which is eight months away. You've already asked your family and lifestyle to accommodate your crazy triathlon habit all year. You've likely incurred some spousal approval unit (SAU) costs, and it's time to pay some back. Do the math on how much time and head space you've already committed to thinking about the race, motivating yourself, and strategizing your training. Then think about how many similar trainer rides you have on the calendar before your bike touches the pavement again.
Both training sessions involve the same time investment, but with dramatically different cost considerations.
We can share many stories of athletes who've come to us for advice after being sentenced to 18-hour training weeks, or 4-hour Zone 1 base building trainer rides in February for an Ironman in September. Often times, these coaches or offseason training plans blindly apply the training knowledge of the sport without considering these three deeper principles above.
Keep in mind that offseason training time is more expensive than in-season time, which means you should spend less of it on high ROI activities. As an age grouper with limited time available, low volume in the offseason is just the right thing to do: for your head, your lifestyle and your family.
Listen to Rich Strauss and Patrick McCrann discuss this topic in more detail on a podcast.