The Advantages of Limitations

The major component of getting the best out of yourself on race day is dictated by your training. Naturally this makes performing optimal training essential for an ideal race. However, my view of an ideal training program for long course triathlon cannot be achieved with full time work. Since my view involves a reasonably high volume combined with high frequency in each discipline means working 8+ hours most days a week almost impossible, especially with the requirements for extra sleep and recovery management. Training 22-30 hours/week with 5-6 sessions per discipline, plus 2 strength sessions is not achievable for those working more than 35 hours/week with a family.

Let me make it clear. High volume training works, and it works very well.

Of course there are some necessary covenants to make this rule true. Probably the most important is the ability to adapt positively to the volume load. That means you have to have to have the ability to absorb and recover from the workload. You need sound biomechanics, good musculoskeletal integrity to avoid the development of injuries. On top of this, volume alone will not allow you to reach your absolute potential. It will get you most of the way, but you do need to include other elements such as strength/stability training, higher intensity sessions and technique development.

This brings me to point of this post. Being a triathlete with plenty of the other normal commitments of life means there is an obvious and necessary limitation to the volume of training I can play with. So, how do I get around this limitation and get the most out my training and therefore racing?

The basic concept is very simplistic. If the volume of training is limited, optimising the other elements of training for performance is the new ideal. There are no hard and fast rules to say exactly how this is best achieved. Instead, there are some guidelines which work well across large groups of athletes. Unfortunately these guidelines do not always work for the individual. Much like using formulae to predict maximum heart rates (is accurate across 1000 people, but can be 30 beats off for the individual). For myself I have the knowledge and experience to know what these guidelines are, plus the added value of a few years of training to further cement what has worked and what hasn't for me.

In this post I am not going to getting into the nuts and bolts of how I plan to optimise my training. That is for a later post. Instead, I'll provide a list of the further elements of training (other than volume alone) that contribute to performance.

  • Efficient and productive technique
  • Strong and stable core
  • Racing skills - transitions, ability to lift the intensity when needed
  • Fatigue resistance
  • Highest possible VO2
  • Highest possible work rate / threshold speeds
  • Mental skills


  1. Look forward to reading the 'later post' on this one. PB

  2. Yes, same as Paul - looking forward to the next one.

    I'm wondering do you find it frustrating at all having to compromise the 'ideal' high volume training needed for long course? I'm thinking one could probably get much closer to ideal training for sprint distance triathlon within the constraints of working full-time, family etc.


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