Triathletes are some of the busiest people in the world trying to fit triathlon training for three sports into one. Once you add in work and a soon to return social life around your training commitments you can often be pressed for time, but this is no excuse for your training to be compromised. We have put together a few of the best triathlon workouts that you can smash out in under an hour here, so that even the time-starved can improve their results.
During these strange times of global lockdown, we’ve tried to keep the sessions as ‘isolated’ as possible, but naturally, unless you’re lucky enough to have a pool at your home, or access top open water you might not be able to do the swim workout until the pandemic has passed.
Bike – a super-fast indoor bike workout for triathletes
Trying to squeeze a bike session into an hour can seem like an impossible task, especially for those of us who are used to endurance kilometres and specialising in longer formats of racing. There are plenty of benefits to squeezing a quick session in though, even for those competing in the gruelling full Ironman. A simple one-hour home trainer workout might not seem like a key part or your prep for a 180km time trial, but it is often these sessions where you build speed for race day.
When it comes to time-constricted training, the home trainer can be your best friend. If you are not surrounded by world-class roads, the turbo allows you to really get some quality work in a controlled environment. And obviously, for those confined to quarters for the foreseeable future, the home trainer is really the only option.
The following aerobic ramp set is possible using either heart rate or a power meter. The aim is to build up from 55% of your max effort all the way to 90% with minimum recovery in-between efforts. This will build your top-end power and train your body to recover quicker. With minimum recovery and a short warm-up and cool down, you will manage to get a solid 40 minutes of riding in an hour session. Not bad bang for your buck!
Aerobic ramp set
5 minutes warm-up (building HR)
8×5 minute efforts*
1 minute recovery
*First 5 minutes effort at 55% of maximum HR/FTP power and then each effort increases by 5%: 55%–60%–65%–70%–75%–80%–85%–90%.
5 minute cool down
Total: 1 hour
Swim – a short but effective workout for the swim leg
A threshold swim is the best way to simulate race day pace in a controlled environment. These swims involve a number of short efforts at high intensity and will aid you at the start of races when the pace is high. Always start swims with a short warm-up to get the muscles flowing and decrease the risk of injury. A warm-up will also allow you to get a better “feel” for the water and improve your stroke that will in turn make you quicker for the fast stuff.
Don’t be afraid to throw in a couple of drills and different strokes for your warm-up. Backstroke is a great way to work a different muscle group and change things up from the lethargic nature of freestyle. Drills can range from anything from sidestroke to freestyle fists. These will improve your core as well as your stroke style. The warm-up can also be used on race day to ensure you are firing from the gun.
100 freestyle easy
The goal for the main set is consistent, fast and short efforts with a change of pace to mimic the flow on race day. You will often find yourself having to slow down through traffic around the buoys along the course and then speed up after to follow the bunch. This is an important skill to master in the pool so you feel comfortable when it hits on race day.
Aim for the first batch of 100s to all be the same pace. This should be your threshold pace and not full-gas but not exactly comfortable either. The second set should push your pace changing ability as you will not be able to rest in-between efforts. Finish off with a hard 200 where you go all out as you pretend to sprint towards the transition zone.
8×100 at threshold pace with 10s rest
8×100 as 50 hard, 50 easy with no rest
200 full gas
It is always important to cool down post swim and this can be a good time to have a bit of a splash around in a relaxed environment. Feel free to finish with some breaststroke laps to ensure your muscles have limbered up ready for the next session.
Run – packing in a massive triathlon training benefit in one hour
Running might be the easiest leg to train in under an hour, with a much more efficient workout rate than cycling and swimming. It’s also the easiest one to do in the UK during lockdown measures. However, instead of just aimlessly running for an hour, it is important to make the most out of your time and one of the most popular sessions for this is Mona Fartlek.
The Mona Fartlek method of training was developed by Australian runner Steven Monaghetti when training for his five-kilometre events. It can be used for distances all the way from three kilometres to a half marathon and involves short, high-intensity efforts with equal “float” as recovery. Float is used here to mean recovery or easy-tempo running.
Start with a tempo warm-up to ensure the legs are ready for a hard session. Build and increase pace for 20 minutes in preparation for the main Mona Fartlek session.
2×90 seconds with 90 seconds float
4×60 seconds with 60 seconds float
4×30 seconds with 30 seconds float
4×15 seconds with 15 seconds float
As you get fitter the aim is to make the float quicker. This will be particularly key for longer distance athletes, as it will work your endurance capabilities as well as speed. The efforts become shorter over time with the idea that the intensity increases as you fatigue more.
Finish off with a 20-minute cool down to get a nice rounded hour. If you were pressed for time you could shorten both the warm-up and cool down to ten minutes which makes the session a snappy 40 minutes.
The next time you have a spare hour you can now make the most of it with any of these efficient sessions. They are a great way to maximise your time in a locked-down world, but will also be great when things return to normal. They might even be able to spice up your everyday training schedule and motivate you to try something different.