As an endurance athlete, the long rides and runs are the key to my training. I am lucky at work in that I’ve got a bit of control over my time and if the weather looks promising, I can take an afternoon off with very little notice and fit in a decent ride, all winter through. Once proper training starts, I won’t go much more than a week without one long training ride/run. I also find it’s important not to neglect the hard stuff – if you can raise your threshold with intervals etc., the percentage level of threshold at which you can grind out very long races will also rise. So, other than the long training sessions the rest of the schedule would fit for someone aiming to do well at shorter distances – don’t forget speed work.
In winter I tend to “tick over” , starting in November, 8-10 hours a week:
Swim: 1 or 2 swims (each 3 to 4km steady)
Cycle: 2 or 3 bikes (one steady/hard turbo + one 4-hour ride)
Run: 3 runs (~40km total, longest run 16-18km)
Erg: 1 erg (whatever I feel like I need: steady, or intervals or a time trial – that month’s internet challenge, maybe). Often my “hardest” session of the week, just to keep my cardio system stimulated.
Gym: twice every month, 1 hour in the gym (strength work, plenty of work on my abs and back, building some core stabillity for those long hours on the bike)
I build the hours through February, March and April. Roughly three weeks hard (+16 h)/one week easy (8 h). It’s time to keep an eye on my weight too – 2 or 3 kilos come off here, and another 1 in the summer.
Swim: Two swims a week, hopefully. I start to throw in some intervals towards the end of spring, if I get a lane to myself.
Bike: I do a long (+200km) audax/bike ride every 2 weeks, building to 250/300km. The evenings are getting lighter, so the turbo is ditched for everything but once-weekly interval sessions in March/April. Typical sets are 10×1 min on/1 min off; 8x3mins on/3mins off; 4x6mins/3 mins off – in the middle of the range that’ll have most effect on your VO2. Outdoors I might add some fartlek-type sessions and longer (10 min) intervals and very occasionally some hills (although I hate them!)
Run: I try to run a couple of 10-milers or half-marathons through this period, not completely flat out and in my trainers not racing flats, to get used to that speed endurance. Other than that the long run builds to 25km (but maybe +32km this year for IM) and there will be some “strides” , e.g. 4 or 6 x 1km and some “tempo” runs.
Erg: I just keep it ticking over with tests on the monthly challenges, or something steady to substitute for a run when my lower legs are hammered. The erg is also a good place to do intervals.
Gym: As before, twice a month, strength work.
Racing! I fit in what training I can around racing, taking ~6-hour easy weeks before the important “A” races but otherwise not slacking off much – I can be averaging 14-16 hour weeks here, peaking at +20 hours.
Long rides/runs: I keep up the long bike rides and long runs – these often have to be fitted in on a Monday or Tuesday – when I’m tired after racing on Saturday/Sunday – so that they don’t impact on the following weekend’s events. They are often at a slow pace as a result. Usually I alternate the long run and bike every other week.
Tempo work: There’s a good local midweek 4-mile running race series every month, good for “tempo” work and reminding me how slow a runner I really am, and local club time trials for the bike (which are somewhat better for my confidence!).
Intervals: I fit in some interval work every week if I can, and I’m not too tired. Often the hardest part of an interval session at this time of year is getting out and doing it when I’ve already raced in the previous 4 or 5 days. Once I’m out on the road the racing head often kicks back in and I’m OK. I try to keep up some swimming sets too, although I am badly disciplined at that.
Junk: In between all that, I do what is fashionably called “junk miles”: just going out logging a few more km when I tired and can’t be bothered to do anything else. They help to keep the weight off and might almost be termed recovery sessions but they’re usually faster than that. I find them a nice way to just be out and refreshing myself with a “nothing ” session, a good way to unwind.
By mid-August the longest events of the summer are over. I leave the really long training rides behind and most of my training is shorter stuff and intervals. I might mix in some road races on the bike, some shorter sprintier triathlons, anything that might be a bit of fun. I’ve usually still got plenty of form unless I’m completely knackered, so this is a fun time to be racing and training, the pressure’s off. By the begining of September though, it’s getting cold and the racing’s nearly over. Time to wind down, take a break, go on holiday. I might ride a short audax or two for fun, or a running race, but that’s about it. Anything major that needs doing to my bikes will happen now, and I’m generally taking it easy apart from the occasional 4-hour ride if the weather’s nice, until the beginning of November when the slow build starts all over again, back to 8-10 hours/week…