How Many Hours Should I Train for a Triathlon?

Many Triathletes have a whole host of different people supporting them and interests in their life, pulling them in different directions

Many people see triathletes as some sort of mechanical super human who just trains all of the time. Though this can be considered the norm, it is far from the truth. We have worked with athletes who have qualified for world championships or completed their first triathlon or IRONMAN without sacrificing all their waking hours to training. As with everything in life it is important to have balance.

Most people will have the following areas of their life to contend with:
  • Family/Partner 
  • Work 
  • Social 
  • Hobby/Sport

Balance Life with Training

You can never eliminate any of your plans or commitments completely without some serious repercussions, so you need to think about prioritisation. When people say they haven’t got enough time to train, they may be right, or a more accurate way of saying that could be: "I haven’t prioritised enough time to train". That is neither a good thing, or a bad thing. At the end of the day, everyone is different and we can associate different time to train depending on so many factors. Some people can fit in their training as part of a commute, others live right beside a pool or have a gym in their work meaning travel time is down so have more time. Some people have to contend with school runs, children’s dinner times and a heavy social life. Everyone is different.

Life is like cooking...

At university, a great friend of mine "Goose" (true name!) recounted a parable of the stove. It become a strong motto in our university house and one I work by at the moment.

Each of those points above symbolise a pan of water on one of the rings on a stove. You can only focus on the two front ones at any one time, you can't have them all on full heat on the big rings at the front, otherwise, they will all bubble over and you have only two hands and two eyes, you won't be able to keep up with them. By only having two you are strongly heating, you can ensure everything else stays on track as well. 

This is important to consider. You may well be able to get away with all four pans, but by the end of it, you haven't excelled at any of them and the chances are you have ended up exhausting yourself from the experience.
Don't forget to have some fun!

How many hours do you actually have available to train!?

Below we have created a very basic calculator to help you work out how much time you have to train when you take away normal life!

Hours in the week

Provide all information in hours per week.
Total time sleeping=
Total time with family=
Total time socialising=
Total time preparing food, living and eating (The average is 2 hours/day!)=
Time at work=
Fudge Factor (See below for some interesting points)*=
Total Hours Used=
Total Hours to Train

*Here are some interesting considerations:
  • You spend on average 1:45hrs on the toilet per week
  • You spend about 1:45hrs  on social media per week (is there a coincidence?!)
  • What about being with your partner?
  • What about changing to get ready for your sessions
  • What about time you spend reading the paper, relaxing, having a shower etc etc.

So now what?

The above answer is how many hours you have to train. Realistically, it is likely to be about 1-2 hours per day. This would be your upper limit. Fundamentally, you need to do some training to do a triathlon, we would realistically look at 1-2 sessions per sport per week. How many hours you make that is totally dependent on how many hours you can give to your sessions. Don’t forget that just getting ready for a session will take time at either end (unless you opt for no showering which is gross!).

It's all about Scott and Lynn's
perfectly balanced recovery quiche

Well-being is the key.

As a coach, I am constantly working with the athlete to ensure that there is a real balance between training and also life [See another blog on it here]. Someone who is happy in life is likely to find training hard a lot easier. As with all training related subjects, it is important to balance not just training but the whole, bigger picture – well being. Good luck!

Philip Hatzis
Coach, Tri Training Harder

Want to try and use a training plan that fits into your schedule, click here.
Alternatively, look at our coaching packages to work with a coach to fit your training around your life.