“I have little to zero time to train.”
As a time-crunched athlete with a full-time job, a family and a mortgage, you have to be honest with yourself. When setting goals, be careful to step back and consider what the next year looks like for you in terms of your family and your career. For example, Mark from Denver quit his job in late 2010 to start his own business. Knowing that getting the business off the ground would be time-consuming and stressful, he set his sights on short races for 2011. He stayed engaged in the sport, stayed competitive in his age group, and had a great season. If you’re a time-crunched triathlete, think about:
What success looks like. Having limited time to train means you may have to shift your focus from long-course races to Olympic- and sprint-distance races. The distance alone isn’t going to be a major hurdle, so you can pay more attention to achieving specific performance goals at these shorter distances.
Big blocks of time. Time-crunched training features higher intensities, but the consequence is that you need about four weeks of moderate-intensity training between build periods that last anywhere from six to 10 weeks. So look at your year; schedule your build periods when you’ll be home with a consistent weekly schedule and try to arrange your recovery/moderate-intensity periods for times when you anticipate difficulty fitting in your training.
Swim with swimmers. If you can find one, join a Masters class that has more swimmers in it than triathletes. Why? Swimmers like to go fast; triathletes like to go steady. You’ll benefit most from focusing on stroke technique and speed in the water, not steady yardage.