Disclaimer: There are methods of coaching that do call for long hours of training and depending on your race goals, you may need to shoot for over 10 hours/week. However, in my years of coaching Crit Champions to an Ironman World Championship qualifier, each of these athletes has averaged between 6-10 hours/week.
How Can I Get Fast on Less Time?
Does work and family time leave you crunched for training time? Good! You need balance in your life if you’re going to be a successful athlete. How we make you fast on less time isn’t tricky and its not gimmicky. Simply put, it is structured and everything has a purpose. The foundation of our training principles is consistency of training (frequency) and aiming for 6-7 days/week of training. When first starting out, it isn’t about the power of your ride or the length of your run, its simply about getting into the routine of training 6-7 days a week. When you get into this habit (even if its just 45 min/day), your results will start to trend upwards.
Once you have the 6-7 days a week of training in place, you start to add more specifics required to meet the race demands. This can include either volume or intensity. Due to time being an issue for most people, we will start with intensity that is specific to the athletes needs. This starts out slow at usually 1 or 2 days a week with plenty of rest between. As the athlete progresses, the frequency of their intensity will increase (on the bike only, running intensity too often can lead to injury). Now the athlete is starting to get in more quality with their limited time and the fitness/results continue to progress.
When you have the frequency and the specific intensity workouts in place, we may add some longer days but still keep total training time for the week at just 10 hours. This is the biggest part of the season and usually right before race season for the athletes. If the athlete is given a heads up in advance, they can generally plan for a 3-5 hour workout once or twice a month. By setting up a periodized training schedule and knowing when the big days are coming, it can give the athlete plenty of time to schedule it in with work or family. As these big days are added in, the athletes fitness continues to trend up and they start to near their peak form.
Final Prep Phase
You started with the 6-7 days a week easy for low amounts of time. You started to add in some intensity and build your bodies ability to recover from these efforts. Then you were able to mix in some bigger days and stress your body again. Now comes the last part. The peak is when you ramp up training at a high rate for 1-2 weeks and completely crush your body. This again can only be 10 hours if you ramp up your intensity and keep volume up. Following this overreach for 1-2 weeks, you will go into a taper and be in your best shape for top end race results. There is nothing tricky to this, it is simply structured and has a purpose.
The amount of time training reflects the average per week for each athlete over a 180 day period. The best results for each athlete come in the 6-9 month time window of when they started their yearly training build under Dalzell Coaching.
Athlete A: 6 hours 31 minutes/week - FTP 260 to 315 (cyclist only)
Athlete B: 9 hours 08 minutes/week - FTP 330 to 375 and 5 min from 380 to 466 (cyclist)
Athlete C: 6 hours 20 minutes/week - FTP from 270 to 318 (triathlete)
Athlete D: 3 hours 4 minutes/week - From 2:02 half marathon to 3:40 full (Boston Qualifier)
Athlete E: 7 hours 52 minutes/week - FTP from 275 to 305, PR on 25k run (Triathlete)
Athlete F: 4 hours 49 minutes/week - Sprint from 1120 to 1355 and 1 min from 653 to 713 (cyclist)
Athlete G: 6 hours 7 minutes/week - FTP from 280 to 350 (cyclist)
These are just a handful of results the athletes have seen. While some of them are new to Dalzell Coaching, others have been on for multiple years. However, regardless of the time they have been training, we have always maintained balance in their life by keeping training averages to under 10 hours a week. The athletes with the best results are those that have been consistent in their training over multiple years and maintain well structured builds each season.
I’m not here to tell you to train less, and I’m not here to say this is the only way. I simply just want to show you that if you are crunched for time, you can still improve as an athlete. While there should be long slow days mixed into any plan, it should still serve a purpose for the bigger plan as a whole. If you can start to structure training with a purpose you will be amazed at how much progress you can make on such limited time. For those athletes that do very long course racing such as Ironman or Ultra, you still need your big weeks mixed in, but those training plans as well should include structure and a purpose to ensure progress is happening.
To hear more on this topic, Jeremy Brown of MindRight Multisport will be hosting a Google Hangout session with me Wednesday at 10 AM Eastern. Follow the link in the Dalzell Coaching or MRM Facebook page on Wednesday to listen in.
For any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org