Beginning tri training, week 5: Time and energy management

This is the week you're finally firing on all eight cylinders. By now you've got all the meaningful paraphernalia you need for all three sports, and you're ready to start riding. Good, because your riding starts this week.


Now you're going to face problems of time and energy management. You've got between seven and nine workouts to perform this week, and it's going to total six hours. On the face of it, that doesn't sound like too, too much time, but in this day and age it's hard to find an extra six minutes, let alone hours.

You've got to reconcile yourself to a fact. This has got to be six hours spent training instead of six hours' worth of other things you're doing, not on top of them. Something's got to give.

Let me tell you what's not there to give. You can't skip sleep. You'll need more of it, not less. Then there's work time, family time, and all that. Usually not much you can do about that.

In my own experience, most of the fluff time that I've got to jettison occurs at either end of my sleeping hours. The less I train, the later I tend to stay up at night, wasting time watching TV. That carries over to the morning, where -- as an early riser in spite of whatever bad habits I've engaged in the night before -- I must de-grog over extra cups of coffee while watching this generation's iteration of Farm Report (CNBC and CNN).

Better to turn off the tube at 8:30 and read yourself to sleep by 9 or 9:30, where you'll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by 5:30 or 6 the next morning ready for battle. Yes, that means you'll have to skip West Wing and the fourth quarter of your basketball team's night game, and, as spring progresses, you'll have to hit the hay at the seventh inning stretch (right after a chorus of "Take me out to the ballll gaaaame ...").

If you don't do as I say, you not only won't have enough time to do everything, you won't have the energy go do it. Sport energizes you. A lot of sport wears you down, though, if you don't respect the work you're doing.

Let's talk about battle for a minute. Everybody's got battles to fight. Here's one very important lesson some of us hard-chargers have had to learn: You've got to fight the battles when it's time to fight them, and you can't fight them during nighttime hours. You might have financial issues, or work that is piling up. You might have loved ones who are in jeopardy. For some reason, we have a tendency to fret about these things during those hours of the night when we are unable to do anything about them. Furthermore, when one lays one's head on one's pillow and falls asleep, all the armor one uses to deal with fear and stress is shed. So, when you wake up at 2 a.m. and the daytime horrors crowd into your head, they assume a magnitude much larger than their true dimensions.

I sleep the night through, but it was not always that way. I had to remind myself of these truths many a night, and it took me years to internalize and incorporate the stuff I now know. If you are a nighttime worrier, I suggest you heed my advice. A triathlon habit is incompatible with a nighttime worry habit.

Happily, as you run, bike and swim more and more you'll find that you're less likely to have nocturnal fits of ceiling-staring. You'll still have to get your arms around your new schedule, though, as these six weekly hours of training will become, in the weeks that follow, 10 or 12 hours.


As cycling enters the mix, you'll start to even out your schedule as regards the swim-bike-run workload. But we're still spending more energy on running than on cycling, because you can get more of an intense workout in during a shorter period of time on foot than on the bike. I'll explain that more fully next week.

  • Swimming: 3 or 4 sessions x 700 - 2000 yards per session
  • Cycling: 2 sessions of 30 - 60 minutes each
  • Running: 2 or 3 sessions x 25 - 30 minutes per session; 1 x 45 minutes
  • Ready to catch the swim-bike-run bug? Check out our Give it a Tri section

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