Building a Better Week

Three days to go… With my workload being, well pretty much non-existent, I thought I’d try a post a day till the end of the week. It’ll make up for the fact that whilst I’m off in the Alps I’ll not be posting at all.

Not written much specifically about training recently, partly because it’s fairly unstructured right now. Post-Ironman recovery has been quick and I pulled a 14 hour training week as a gentle return to training. Plenty of running in that, mostly short, a couple of double run days too. A bit of swimming that wasn’t at my best to be honest, but what with having 2 weeks off all sports coming up I’m not worrying too much about that right now. Some quite reassuring cycling where I’m putting out the same quality of workout I was 2 or 3 weeks before Switzerland. So generally I’m happy with how things are going for this period, my aim isn’t to build anything right now, just to maintain fitness up to my trip and worry about build when I come back.

Over the past 6 or 7 months I’ve structured my training largely around the principle of a basic week. Sticking to an idea of ensuring as much consistency as possible and not getting too hooked up on issues like periodisation. I do periodise with some specific focussed weeks and an increase of volume from the start of the year. Along with the introduction of a few key tough workouts as I approach the Ironman. It’s worked pretty well for me I think, I may not have had the race I wanted, but I believe I have a better fitness than last year. We’ll see how Western Australia goes before I start making any serious adjustments to the way I train.

The structure of my basic week has always been fairly flexible, I focus on a set of key workouts I want to get in each week and the exact days may vary a little. Generally this has proven to be the best way to deal with fitting training around work and a commute. Each week I’ll look to fit in a long run, long ride, masters swimming, a small amount of hill or interval work amongst other sessions. Work means that a large portion of that training happens over the weekend, the long rides being the obvious ones. What I’ve tended to monitor throughout the year is weekly hours starting from light weeks in January to heavy ones come May/June. To a lesser extent I track the nature of the key workouts and shift focus on what I’m doing.

I’m not an expert on training methodologies, though I’d say I’m well read in the area. I go in part on what I’ve experienced and in part on what I feel most ‘suits’ me. The risk with the latter is that what I feel suits me may not be what’s going to deliver the best results. If I assess the year so far I’d say that whilst I’ve done well to develop the volume of training I can do and have improved fitness there’s a few areas I can work on.

Swim training has been very inconsistent for me this year, partly caused by travel breaking up attendance of masters sessions. The quality of facilities for serious training outside of masters is an issue, it’s hard to get to good pools, but aside from this my own ability to motivate myself on sessions away from the squad is a weakness. Run and bike frequency has generally been good, I would like to increase the time spent running which has been difficult to achieve with work. My weakness here is a mix of motivation meaning at times I cruise workouts without too much focus and also poor recovery. I’ve gone into a few workouts with fatigue that stopped me completing the initial goal and forced me to have an easier session. Whilst standing on a train for a couple of hours a day doesn’t help, factors like sleep and nutrition were entirely in my control.

Now that commuting and working are being removed from the equation and the issue of facilities should be eliminated fully once I’m in Oz (if I’m complaining about the training facilities there, I’m never going to be happy) it’s up to me to address my internal limiters. I’ve scrapped my old basic week and started to plan the new one. It’s built around 8 hours sleep a night, good nutrition, and all the time I need to complete a workout. It relies on me having built up the fitness and endurance to start tolerating regular weeks hitting the 30 hour mark with some going up towards 40. It’s still flexible so if I need more rest or to change focus I can shift timing, volume or intensities about.

I started with the key workouts I felt would make up my training.


  1. Squad training – ideally swimming with a club, at the least a structured session covering all strokes.
  2. Open Water – with a wetsuit as much as possible, the objective is to focus on endurance and technique in a wetsuit.
  3. Endurance – pool or more open water with the focus on distance or maintaining a pace for greater distance.


  1. Endurance – the long ride looking for 4 hours through to 7 hours. I like to do some over-distance as it gives you confidence when it comes to just 180K
  2. Medium endurance – I need a better name for this, rides in the 3 to 5 hour range, sometimes incorporating particular focusses like hill work. Volume has helped a lot with my cycling, so I’ll stick to it.
  3. Hill/Interval work – shorter sessions with a focus on some intensity. I’m considering looking into crits and road racing to work on this.


  1. Long run – 2 to 2.5 hours, continue to develop my run endurance.
  2. Medium run – some runs around the 60 to 90 minute mark to help work on volume.
  3. Tempo/Track runs – intervals and harder work to develop my ability to perform at faster paces. An area that’s been absent from my training so far this year.

Along with those I’ll always have the option of recovery and easy sessions where suitable. Easy brick runs off the bike to help boost run volume for example. My aim will be to ensure I get a good set of quality key workouts in, along with easy to steady sessions to develop overall fitness. I need to be recovered and prepared to hit the goals for each key workout I do which may require me to adjust other sessions to achieve that.

I have built a rough weekly schedule around these workouts, but I’ll save it for another time as this post is already very long.