- perform three core workouts a week: one should be focused on higher intensity speed work or hill training, one on what is often called 'tempo' training, and one on a longer, more moderate intensity workout.
- At least one day of rest should be allowed between the core workouts
- At least 5/6 (50 minutes of every hour) of total training time should be spent on the core workouts.
- at least two athletic disciplines (whenever possible) should be practiced each week.
Because even the 'moderate' workouts are rather intense, a day of rest is required between sessions. this is one of my favorite parts of the program - and i feel it is essential. piling the workouts back to back can lead to injury, overtraining, but more likely, low motivation. it's amazing the gains you can make in short time frames when each of your workouts is paying off maximally - and this of course is the goal of the program. if you can't get a day of rest, skip the workout and make up the time down the line.
Back in highschool, years before i started participating in endurance based activities, i started lifting weights. i read all the muscle magazines and idiotically followed thier routines, lifting for 2 hours, 6 days a week. of course i got stronger, but i also wasted alot of time towards what i now consider a rather useless pursuit - i wasn't trying to get towards some functional end - the goal was to look bigger and push around big metal disks in a gym. While those days long gone and i no longer care about how much i can lift, i do still carry around the appreciation i gained for being able to handle my own bodyweight. as such, it's important to me to maintian a base level of strength that i feel enhances my overall fitness. In addition to my endurance training, i do two short sessions of strength training a week. Presently these sessions last 5 minutes each. when training for triathlon, i often also add a swim workout to my training, usually limited to 15 or 20 minutes. with all these additions, a typical week during tri training might include 2 hours and 30 minutes spread over 3 'core' workouts (either biking or running) and 30 minutes of other activity. taking much more than half an hour (or one sixth) of the total weekly training time for these pursuits is not recommended, nor necessary once adequate muscular fitness has been developed. it is even possible to gain strength on a limited routine, but i'll leave that for another post. limiting this non-core work to 30 minutes will minimize recovery needs not directly related to the overall goal of the program and ensure adequate time for the three main workouts.
The kernal of thought that started this whole training revolution for me a marathon training program from the furman institute of running, or FIRST. this program advocated only three runs a week to prepare for a 26.2 mile race. the workouts ended up totalling about 3 hours (give or take) and although optional 'cross training' workouts were recommended as part of the program, i found the uneccessary. I actually poured so much effort into the three weekly workouts that any intermediate workout would have had to be either ridiculously easy or would have kept me from going hard on the next run. so i pressed on with these three weekly workouts and saw my running speed and endurance shoot through the roof. 10 mile runs became easy. my 'long run' pace dropped to about 7:30 per mile for a casual run, or under 7 minutes if i pushed it. i'd never been fast before, but now i felt like i was. Mentally, however, it was tough to keep up the intensity and i switched to doing one of the weekly workouts as crosstraining - typically a bike ride. i used the same structure for these workouts - if the prescribed run was to be speed training, i'd do speed training on the bike. the intensity remained, but by switching disciplines i was able to stay mentally focused for longer periods of time, and still found myself able to improve and maintain a high level of fitness. Over the past few years i've continued having success (both mentally and physically) keeping the intensity where it needs to be to maximize the effectiveness of the limited training volume by including at least two different disciplines during the week. If i'm training for a single discipline event (say a run), i always do two core workouts in that discipline and one in another (biking for example). i'll cycle the types of workout (speed, tempo, long) so that every three weeks i'll do two runs of each. It gets a bit trickier for muti-discipline events such as triathlon or adventure racing, but i'll also address this issue in another post.