The Triathlon Template

The parameters of my next training template are as follows:

Unique Version Of A Week

Since work is a rotating shift roster, the normal 7 day week timetabling will never work for me. Currently I am on a pretty set roster. That roster is based on a 6 week cycle, which can be broken down into 5 distinct weeks of 8-9 days. Each of these weeks starts with a 10 hour day shift followed by another three shifts of day, afternoon or nightshifts (up 14 hours for a standard night shift), followed by 4-5 days off. One week will be an exception, in that it is a very heavy on the work hours by adding another 14 hour night in the middle of what normally are my days off.

The rest of life's committments, family, friends, sleep requirements, etc are then plugged into each 8-9 day week. The end results gives me the time I have left to train.

Key Sessions

Keeping with my long running concept of having key workouts for each week still works for me. So for every 8-9 day week, I plan on including the following:
  • Long Run
  • Long Bike
  • Hard/Intervals Run
  • Hard/Intervals Bike
  • Brick (Bike/Run)
  • Swim Endurance
  • Swim Threshold/Intervals
  • Swim Technique/Power/Strength
  • Focus Session
  • Weights x 2
Per every week that is 11 sessions I aim to complete for a total of 10-18 hours training time. The one exception is my heavy work week in which I'll cut back to 7 sessions over 8 days (dropping the Focus, Brick, Strength Swim and a weights sessions). Time wise this is very similar to my run training over the last year.

Time Per Session

The time for each session will mainly be dictated by what I have free, rather than what is necessarily optimal for training. As a general rule the swims will last 45-60min, weights will be 30-45min, long run at 135-150min, long bike 2-4 hours and every thing else 45-90min.


At least at the beginning I will not be following any heart zones. For me heart rate will be fairly arbitrary numbers. Instead I will rely more on the feel for the intensity, or ratings of perceived exertion. I have the experience and hopefully awareness to know what low-end aerobic, versus threshold, versus VO2max pacing feels like. Typically the hard/intervals will be somewhere around VO2max, the Brick will be around threshold and the long stuff below threshold.

The exact intensities and speeds will depend on a few factors, including:
  • time to train (shorter time will usually mean a slightly higher intensity)
  • how I feel (I've learnt day-to-day flucuations should rarely be forced)
  • recovery (how I have been handling the last week or so of training)

Each training week begins with one or two days not marked for any key session. This is the time where I can take stock of my recovery levels and do what is required. It may mean taking the day off training completely, performing a short easy session, focussing on some remedial work or stretching. No hard training is to be performed. As a result I will get regular recovery on every 8-9 day cycle.

The heavy work week that appears once out of every 5 weeks, should allow for some reduced pounding to the body. That is the physically training load is substantially reduced. Hopefully that can provide some time for adaption. The extra night hours and as a result reduced quality and quantity of sleep may limit the training response. At the very least the plan should prevent me from burning the candle at both ends.


The focus session each week will usually rotate through bike, run, swim. The exact make up of the session will depend on what time I have and what I feel needs the most amount of work. It could be anything from a technique to some more endurance or even maximal oxygen uptake intervals. I consider this session as almost an extra and it will usually be the first session to drop if required. If I have missed a session that really needs to be completed for that training week, then it will take the place of a focus session.


The majority of my cycling will be performed on the turbo trainer. The main reason for this is time effiency and the ability to stay at home during the sessions. They will often be done during my daughter's sleep time. A little extra cycling will usually be sprinkled into the mix simply as a commute to and from work. This will always be very easy and hopefully just add a little more volume, but more likely should be active recovery. When time constraints are extra tight the commute may have to incorporate a key session.


  1. Jason, I like the idea of an 8-9 day 'week'... plenty of flexibility there. I'm always thinking 7 days is too short. The Focus session idea is an interesting one.

  2. I'm with Ewen, I like the idea of a "week" which isn't based on seven days. Who said training should be in seven day blocks anyway! And hopefully your new 70.3 goal will give you some renewed focus (when your busy life permits)! Paul :-)


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