Skip to main content

Some questions/thoughts on unbalanced training plans...

I haven't written about triathlon lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been on the bike trainer in the basement (boy do I have some thoughts on that) or thinking about next (and the next) racing season. It's just been...not "on the back burner"...nothing much to report on. Bits and pieces that haven't been worth hammering together into a blog post.

But I finally have something to get off my chest so I'll throw it out there and see if anybody has any insights. It may be one of those topics where I've reached the point that some of you are going to say "you need a coach--too complicated." Not gonna happen though, first of all. And I also think the information--or at least people already doing some version of what I'm going to describe--exists. I just don't know where to find it or how to connect with the folks using this method. I've thought about throwing something out there on some of the message boards, but wasn't really in the mood to deal with the people who aren't up for this pattern of training and will want to voice their displeasure with me asking about it.

Unbalanced training plans. And let me explain.

Most of the time when you hear about unbalanced training, what we're talking about is an uneven number of workouts per discipline, right? Bike 2x per week. Run 2x per week. Swim 3x per week. Or 4x if swimming is really your weak sport. That's not what I mean. Necessarily. At least to start off.

I'm thinking here more of people who don't have access to a pool, say, or who can't get out on the roads and hate the bike trainer for the early spring. Let's say you have a 16 week training plan...what are you guys doing if for 8 weeks you can only do 1-2 of the sports. Maybe you're injured and can only swim and bike to start and then have 6 weeks to work on running at the end or during your peak workouts.

Is there a name for this type of training? Or is this just fly by the seats of our pants? Traditional off-the-shelf training plans are usually balanced and have a simultaneous volume build over all 3 disciplines. But I'm thinking here of, say, an 8 week bike and run focus followed by 8 weeks of swim-intensive training with bike and run pushed maybe not to the side but shifted into unbalanced mode so that Week 12 might look like a 4x swim with 2 bikes and 2 runs.

In this kind of "early-late" plan would you bump up the 1-2 sport focus during the initial base-build to compensate for later loss? I'm somewhat a fan of the Friel model here where we're primarily talking fitness early on and then asking our training to look more like the race as we get closer to the race. In that way, I see nothing wrong with this type of plan...and yet you're not going to find it talked about out there much. I'm assuming because most people who want an off-the-shelf training plan want to pursue their fitness/race goals from multiple angles at the same time.

Side note, for me, I'm thinking of a mid-July race (Racine) and considering what works best logistically...and that may be working bike/run for the first 8 weeks of my training plan until Memorial Day hits and I can get more pool/lake time. I'm less concerned about fitness readiness on the bike and more concerned with getting my run/swim in order over those last 8 weeks.

Any advice? Supportive comments? I already have a traditional balanced training plan I'm going to roughly follow...looking to modify it to my needs.

Comments