Investing in Triathlon

Over the past several weeks I’ve been reading a lot about how to achieve my goal of becoming a triathlete.  Given my personality, there is an implicit understanding that this also means performing to my potential as a triathlete will be required to fully satisfy that goal.  If something is worth your time then it’s worth the time to do it right.

As I’ve read and re-read The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joel Friel, one concept I continue to come back to is the importance of building a proper foundation for endurance sport by training the 3 basic abilities of endurance, force, and speed (to be defined in another post).  I think the following quote provides perspective on how long it will take to begin to see one’s potential develop (emphasis mine):

In the first two or three years of a novice athlete’s career, training must primarily consist of these abilities [endurance, force, speed] in workouts and little else.

While I need to remain focused on the immediate challenges ahead of me, I think this post is highlighting the long term nature of my thinking and possible goals beyond 2010.  I’m looking at 2010 as a foundational year and my training plan will need to reflect that.

Fitness Investment

I feel it is necessary to talk about the investment of time necessary to achieve one’s potential in multisport.  I’ve had this conversation with my wife to make sure that I have her support just as I would with any major investment decisions. 

First, I am of the opinion that anyone who has a sedentary lifestyle, largely due to a desk job like mine, should be spending at least 3 days a week doing some fitness enhancing activity to maintain minimum levels of health.  Whatever you find fun and gets your heart rate up all that is necessary.

If you were to workout for up to 1h x 3 days per week, I also think it’s reasonable to stretch that to 1h x 5/6 days per week just to be consistent on a daily basis.  With an average of 6h a week of conditioning, from what I’ve read, I should be able to achieve my potential as a triathlete at the Sprint distance and compete comfortably at the Olympic distance (Sprint x2) for variety.

Race Distance

Annual Hours

Avg hrs / 50 wks



6 – 10



8 – 12



10 – 14


600 – 1200

12 – 24

Anything beyond the Olympic distance event would require somewhere between 10-24 hrs / week of training to achieve one’s potential at that distance.  (ie. Half-Iron and Ironman distances which are 4x and 8x sprint distance respectively).  With a fulltime job, a family, and other interests I am not willing to invest that much time.  Further, I think at that level of investment, my original goals of weight management and general fitness are no longer the primary motivator and that ego has probably taken over at the detriment of my family and career.

Back to Reality

This entire post is based on suggested training hours from a book written by an author who probably thinks more about training elite/professional athletes than people like me.  For all I know, my race potential (or as close as I want to get) can be achieved in half the amount of time he is recommending.  So I’m not saying “never” if you know what I mean.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  I have a lot of work to do in 2010 which will take me far beyond anything I’ve done in the past.  I have a lot to prove to myself in the area of training commitment beyond a 90 day training for a single event.

This post basically came out of a stimulating conversation over dinner with my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to write about it.