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Training Investment Principles
Managing Your Triathlon Training Account
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It’s January and the start of a new training season: time for season goals, training objectives, annual training plans and spreadsheets. As for me, I’ve recently brought on three coaching associates and now face the task of communicating to them my way of coaching. I’ve hit upon the ideas of money and investing to explain a few critical concepts we can all use to make 2003 more effective.

As investors, we invest our money where it will yield the highest rate of return with the lowest risk. The same is true for endurance athletes. Our currency is training time and intensity. We only have so much time to train and our bodies can handle only so much intensity. Efficient endurance training is about the application of these scarce resources to activities yielding the greatest return of increased athletic performance. At the same time, we seek to minimize our risk of injury and overtraining.

The following ideas are the foundation of my coaching method. You can in turn use these concepts as a self-coached athlete:

Attach a final goal to your race season, or a desired end state to your personal fitness. Then for each training period, create goals and objectives that support the successful accomplishment of your seasonal goals. Consolidating our strengths and focusing on our limiters ensures we apply our currency to activities yielding the highest rate of return. When making training decisions within this subset of high return activities, ask yourself “What is the lowest volume, lowest intensity, and lowest risk activity that will yield the greatest return on my investment?”

Within each training period, schedule Break Through (BT) workouts that support the successful accomplishment of your training period goals and objectives. For each BT workout, ask yourself three questions:

What is the purpose of this workout and how does it support the objectives of the training period?
If you can’t answer this question, seriously consider whether or not the session is appropriate.

What is the “recovery cost” of the workout?
I define recovery cost as training volume plus intensity. When you complete a workout, you have invested time and intensity, creating the potential for increased performance. You realize the return on your investment only after you have paid for the recovery cost of the workout. Minimize recovery costs in the first place by selecting workouts with the appropriate investment (time and intensity) and risk. If the purpose of the workout is sound but the cost is too high, modify the training variables to reduce the recovery cost. Help your body recover by practicing good recovery strategies: pre- and post-workout nutrition, stretching, sleep, etc. Remember, training without recovery is simply organized trauma.

How does the recovery cost of this workout affect the successful accomplishment of subsequent BT sessions?
If the purpose and recovery cost of the two BT sessions are sound, increase the time interval between sessions to “pay for” the recovery costs of the workout. When you complete a training session you have essentially written a check and asked your body to cash it. Give yourself time to make a deposit and avoid NSF penalties.


Focus on scheduling effective BT workouts, per the guidance above. Schedule sensible, base building sessions around these BT workouts, per the limitations of your personal life. Overall training volume is then the result of effective, sensible scheduling, NOT the objective of your training. Never equate fatigue with effective training.

Increase your rate of return by making a plan for the “small details” of proper nutrition, flexibility, strength training and endurance training knowledge.

Above all else, your level of planning and implementation should reflect your athletic goals, desired lifestyle, and personal value system. A realistic, 80% plan executed with conviction and consistency is much better than an unrealistic, 100% plan poorly executed.


Rich Strauss is the founder of Crucible Fitness and the Head Coach for Team Crucible. He specializes in training Ironman athletes and has qualified for the 2003 Ironman World Championships. He is a USAT and USAC certified coach, as well as a former NCAA Swimming All-American and Marine Corps officer. For more information about Rich and his coaching services, please visit www.cruciblefitness.com.

Written By : RICH STRAUSS
Published: 10 JANUARY 2003 « GO BACK
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