Before I get started with this rant, I just want to iterate that I am not an expert, doctor or a fitness guru in anyways. What I am writing below is purely an opinion generated by my own personal experience and research. I do not have any fitness related credentials so take this post as you will. Onto the tale…
This is a tale of two athletes and two different training styles. It is based on a current issue that has been bugging me for months. I figured I would throw this out there in order to solicit feed back and possibly foster an interesting dialog.
Athlete A has been an athlete for most of his life. He actively participates in triathlons, road biking, mountain biking and running events. Athlete A currently is in his late 30s and often finished most events in the middle of the pack. Currently Athlete A has a full time office job, a wife and a couple of children that eat up allot of time. Due to personal constraints Athlete A is only able to squeeze in 4-6 hours of training a week. Athlete A’s training plan is non-existent and he basically determines what he is going to train based on what he likes or feels most compelled to do. If he feels like riding then he rides, if he feels like running then he runs. All of Athlete A’s training is spur of the moment without any forethought. Athlete A often asserts that he would like to be better at triathlons and that he should be able to podium or perform better than he does, often siting time as the limiting factor.
In contrast Athlete B is relatively new to athletics. Athlete B is married, does not have any children and works 40 hours a week from a home office. Athlete B is nearing 40 and was extremely out of shape. Due to the lack of kids plus the ability to have a flexible schedule and understanding wife Athlete B is able to train up to 15 hours a week. Athlete B was severely out of shape and had no fitness to build upon. Athlete B though became determined to be better and signed up for the same triathlon as athlete A to spurn himself to get his fitness together. Athlete B researched training and read everything and anything on how to train and set up a training schedule. Months after getting to a workable base of fitness Athlete B started a proper periodization and training schedule. Athlete B has established a training schedule based on his goals and has weekly and monthly goals. Athlete B determines at the beginning of each monthly phase what needs to be addressed in preparing for his race goals and establishes a weekly defined training schedule. Every workout has a defined purpose and function.
As I mentioned Athlete A often complains that he does not have enough time to become better at his sport, often telling Athlete B that is f he had that amount of training time he would be great and able to podium in most of his races. But, in my opinion Athlete A’s biggest limiting factor is himself and not his available training time. Granted training time does limit his ability to improve, but Athlete A’s lack of planning and focus in my opinion is truly what holds him back, especially with limited time. Athlete A should have a set plan that clearly divides the available hours and he should have a plan for training and building and working on his weaknesses. It might not be as much fun as doing what you like, but if you want to be serious about results, it requires some commitment to planning and working on focused areas for improvement. By randomly deciding what he wants to do, Athlete A is hurting himself and not providing himself the primary tool for success. As I have gotten more entrenched personally in training for a multisport endurance race I have grown to realize the only proper way to train and get all the parts working, is to have a clear season, monthly and weekly plan.
Athlete A should be listing his strengths and weaknesses. He should then be planning how best to divide up his limited time to improve the weaknesses and enhance the strengths. If Athlete A has a Mountain Bike race he needs to prepare for then he should at least have two to three hours of his five dedicated to running and swimming with the remaining cycling. After that event, when he nears time for the triathlon he should then shift the hour focus to his next weakest area and give that more focus. By planning he should have each major discipline with at least one workout. But this takes planning and strategizing to properly plan and prepare.
This is why I feel that time is important, but planning and preparation are more important factors. Athlete A should not just be wishing he had more time to train, he should be wishing he had a detailed plan of actions for his training. As I said I am not downgrading the importance of time in relation to training, I am arguing that the most important factor for all training should be a seasonal plan, a clearly defined idea on a monthly or four week basis for training and that all workouts should have a purpose and focus determined by the monthly goal. This is what I have learned that I believe to be the most important lesson since I started this adventure last year. What do you think? Do I make a valid argument for planning over total hours available? Til next time.
- 2013 A Look Ahead (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- 2012 The Year That Changed Everything For Me (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)