Priorities for the Time Limited Long Course Athlete

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It’s a great idea to make short and long term goals. It’s also great to get excited and passionate about the new goals and possibilities of what we might achieve as we get into race season. But it’s important to match your life with your goals.

Before you commit to a goal that you truly want to achieve:

  • Look at the targets you’ve set out.
  • Look at your current ability.
  • Look at the time you are able to invest.
  • Look at the details of what it’s going to look like on day-to-day and week-to-week and understand the number of years it’s going to take to achieve the goal.
  • Look at your available support and freedom. Does your life allow for this goal?

If all lines up, it’s easy: You set the goal and you start outlining a plan to get you there. Where it gets more challenging is if you start to clearly see areas that are going to provide some difficulty. Time availability is often the biggest road block for athletes. This doesn’t mean the goal isn’t possible, but you need to have a clear understanding of what your roadblocks might look like and how you’ll manage them.

You will need to take a good look at the key areas to train first and fit them into your schedule as priority. The “meat and potatoes” of your program should come first. Identify the key sessions and make them fit.

In my experience, the sessions in your week should be prioritized around the long: swim, bike, run. Having the endurance to go the distance should be your No. 1 priority. You have to have the ability to handle the length of your event. At some point every week, you should have a long swim, a long bike and long run that builds your ability to cover the distance you’ll be racing. Your schedule should be built around this!

For example if your main event is an Ironman, you’ll want to include a weekly long 3-5km swim, 4-6 hour bike, and 90 minute to 2:30 hours run. Do them on terrain that closely matches your event.

Once you can place these three into your week as your focus you can start scheduling all the other sessions as your life allows. It is a common mistake for time limited athletes to think replacing endurance sessions with speed and quality will get them through their Ironmans. Remember you are training for more than an 8-hour day; the best thing you can do is make going long first priority and then build everything else around that.

To race long you have to get comfortable with going long.