1. Training must be short and hard before you can go long and hard. Training must be long and slow before you can go long and fast. So, your workouts early in the season can be short & intense or long and relatively mild. Never long & hard. If you are riding long with friends early in the season ride with people a bit SLOWER than you.
2. Track your key numbers. If you are training more but your performance is declining, it means you need to rest. If you are training less and your performance is declining, that’s to be expected.
3. During your early base training, we want to do the least possible to keep your key numbers improving. If you see eye-popping improvements, it’s a sign to keep your training where it is or to only increase it gradually, NOT a sign that you should start training like a madman now that you are stronger.
4. At some point early in your training you are going to feel like you are invincible. You are not. Early in the season most of us are more fragile than we think, and it’s easy to injure yourself or to overreach and put yourself into a hole for a couple weeks.
5. Resist the urge to test yourself too often (except for our benchmark workouts). Just look to train in (or near) the training zone we are targeting for the workout and don’t try to push your numbers higher every workout. Just because you did your last set of threshold reps at 290 W doesn’t mean the next set can’t be at 280 if that’s what feels right.
6. Sleep. Make sleep a huge priority. I put sleep on par with training in importance. If you are not sleeping enough you are not recovering, and you are probably going to get sick.
7. Step up to the time management challenge. Triathlon training for a busy person is a constant test of your motivation, organization, and willpower. If you catch yourself saying “I can’t…”, that’s a signal to plan ahead, get creative and maybe to harden up. Even 30 minutes on the trainer (set up before you go to bed) or 30 minutes running can keep the ball rolling. No one knows if you’re doing your best except for you. Are you?
8. We have two basic tools for getting you fit: (1) volume (hours, miles, yards) & (2) intensity and main sets (e.g. 3×10 minutes threshold) . When time is limited, focus on the quality of your main sets. When time is abundant, do the full volume in your plan.
9. Running. Ramp up gradually no matter how good you feel. Spread your miles out over the week. Mix in short walks and run on soft & varied terrain when you can. We typically run a bit faster one day a week (Thursdays on most schedules), but keep it under control. We do most of our running in our “long runs” / steady zone, which is 1 min / mile “wide.” (e.g. 8:00/ mile to 9:00 / mile). Go with the flow and run at the slow end of the range on days when you feel tired.
10. Rule number ten (#1 in importance!) is consistency. Don’t overdo it and get hurt or sick. Avoid having poor weeks of training. My best athletes might have one or two “poor” weeks of training over the course of the season (and they are busy people!) Make what would usually be poor weeks for you (busy time at work, travel, vacation) mediocre instead of poor and you’ve gone a long way toward improving.