triathlon and family can mix

High Intensity Training

It is the winter season, meaning a majority of your workouts will be high volume, low intensity. That doesn’t mean that all of your workouts have to be.


I have spent the last two years training at high intensity in the build period for each of my races. This intensitiy allowed me to compete in various distances up to a Half Ironman with an average training volume of 9 hours a week. Pretty important when I am trying to split my time between training and my family.

Training at high intensity can be intimidating for some. Hey, it can be embarassing when you stop half way up the hill to walk; especially when the group you passed at the bottom jogs past you before the top. Don’t let that intimidate you, by incorporating higher intensity training into your swim/bike/run workouts, you will be leaving them in your dust in no time.

There are ways to make high(er) intensity training more enjoyable. Really, there is a way.

Timing – Complete your intervals early in your workout
It is no secret that when you are tired, your form breaks down. Ever heard of the Ironman Shuffle? After 2400m in the pool, I start to wave at something at the bottom of the pool with my left arm. No, I am not halucinating, my arms and shoulders are tired and it is much easier to ‘wave’ than catch the water with my entire stroke. By completeing your intervals after a quick 10 minute warmup, you can not only compete the intervals at the intensity you want, but with good form as well.

Technology – Track your Pace/Power
Most runners run their slow run too fast and their fast run too slow. I have experienced this many times over the past two years when I forget to charge my GPS watch and notice it just as I am heading out the door. With the invention of GPS watches and power meters, training in a zone is much easier than before. Each will allow you to complete each interval at the perscribed intensity; not too high, not too low, but just right.

Testing – Know your zones
Testing sucks. Going all out for a specific period of time can be the hardest training session of your season, but it is totally worth it. By utilzing numbers that remove the error in perception, you can target each interval to exactly what you want to gain. If the goal is to run at your lactate threashold or just stay aerobic, your pace will help you stay in the correct intensity. My test of choice is the Carmichael Training System (CTS) field test for swim, bike, and run. I have found this to be the most accurate and has proven results for me in the past.

Recover – Be ready for your next session
Nutrition and rest; probably the two areas where we all could use some tweaking here and there. High intensity training will reduce the amount of glycogen in your system, so it is important that you replace what you used after each workout. Test what works for you, sweet potato is working awesome for me right now.

This year I planned to incorporate some high intensity training into my base period during the winter. With 5 weeks complete, the results are promising. So much so that I will continue to keep it up and can not wait for my build phase.

Oh, and I like going fast. Typical triathlete….

Question: Do you train at high intensity? How is it working for you?


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