Most triathletes are grown adults with multiple commitments, family duties and time constraints. I have been working with this population as a coach for almost ten years and have worked with highly motivated world class amateur athletes who have careers and families, as well as beginner/intermediates who do not have nor want competitive goals. Both types of athletes present different challenges.
My experiences have led me to believe that the most realistic training plan for a certain type of athlete is simple and repeatable. The athlete that this particular approach works for is extremely time constrained and highly motivated or someone who is not as competitively motivated but wants a healthy and realistic training plan.
I call this the hour-twenty training plan. It consists of roughly one hour and twenty minute workouts three to five days per week and one longer workout with a day off—in essence, do both weekend workout time slots in one day and take the other day off.
This is a workout that most of you can knock out no matter what time of day, with minimal interference from work or other commitments. There are no double days in this training plan. One and done is the approach.
This training plan is appropriate for sprint to international distance triathletes. It would not be a viable plan for anything longer. If you are very busy or not a triathlon die-hard, there is not much reason for you to race longer distance. If you plan to race 70.3 to Ironman, you must make time for longer training sessions.
The key to this type of training plan is that most days will consist of two disciplines. The weekend workout will be the major endurance session of the week. The time allotment to each discipline will vary depending on the strengths and weaknesses of the athlete.
One hour and twenty minutes is enough time to work the various training elements in any training plan—aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, lactate threshold, drills and skills, and power. It is enough time to burn roughly 700 calories. It is also enough time to burn off life-related stress and spend a little time on yourself.