Preparation for Multisport Races – Training

I’ve been asked by a few people in the last while about preparation for multisport races, especially the types that include a lot of height metres on foot or on the bike.

First its hard to just recommend what should be done because it really depends on the individual’s level of fitness and experience. So I can just speak for myself.

I returned to competing in sports events in 2008 after hanging up my oars in 2005. During those 3 years ‘sabbatical’ I didn’t do much endurance training but I was kept strong with surfing and a little running. In 2008 I started adventure racing. My first taste of it was the Beast of Ballyhoura, 36 hours on the go with only 2 hours to sleep. I was completely destroyed afterwards and couldn’t walk properly for days. A case of ‘too much too soon’.

However, all of this would contribute enormously to my base. Between 2008 and 2009 I was probably training about 13 hours a week but not monitoring my training much. Mostly spending time building up a base with little specific interval training or targeted sessions until in 2010 I decided to do an Ironman and the Inferno Triathlon. Then I began to up the ante and add long runs and specific bike rides to my weekly training programme.

Winter Base Training

2012 has been my most successful year thus far. I spent most of the winter running and ski touring. The ski touring really built up leg strength and aerobic endurance. In the winter months I would commute back and forth to work on my bike (35 minutes easy in the morning and 1 hour with a gradual climb in the evening). I was running at lunch time up to 3 days per week. With only 1 hour to spare I usually focused on quality sessions such as interval training. I would choose from the following sessions:

  • 4 x 5 mins @65-70% of Max HR (2 minutes of easy running in-between)
  • 4 x 10 mins @60% of Max HR (3 minutes easy running in-between)
  • 15 x 1 min @90% of Max HR (30 seconds rest in-between)

I also tried to run home from work on Friday evenings. 1 hour 45 minutes in total with a climb to the house for the last 25 minutes.

Spring Biking

Although I only started using Strava late in the year – since April I clocked up over 3,000km (some sessions are missing or weren’t uploaded) most of those sessions are bike rides, I don’t always upload the runs. Here is a breakdown of the training:

As soon as it became warm enough to get out on the bike a bit more I started to hit the hills on the mountain bike and the road bike. Most weekends were spent in the Alps riding passes or doing some steep hill training on the mountain bike during the week. Hill repeats are great for improving lactate tolerance and leg strength.

A consistent plan would look like my month of July plan:


Swim Training

I also started to swim again in Spring. I not the biggest fan of swimming in pools so Im a poor winter swimmer. I prefer to be in the lake. Alas the lakes don’t warm up until May so in March I forced myself to swim in a 50 mtr pool one night a week. It turned out enough to get me through the Inferno Triathlon and sub-1 hour for 3.8km. I focused purely on technique and power and swimming the distance steadily.

Spring Training Schedule

The average week looked like:

Monday: Rest or Swim

Tuesday: Lunch Run Intervals

Wednesday: Steady Run/Bike Ride

Thursday: Lunch Run/Bike Intervals

Friday: Rest or Easy Ride

Saturday: Long Bike Ride (3 – 5 hours)

Sunday: Long Run (20km)

Sometimes I would double up on sessions with the commute to work and a lunch run. That was an easy way to fit extra miles in!

Rest and Recovery

All in all I prioritize enjoyment and I listen to my body a lot. If I am really tired, although it sometimes kills me to do nothing…that is just what I do. I read a book, catch up with friends, take some time to do some bike maintenance or do some shopping or house cleaning if I am particularly restless. There is always plenty to be done!

Ill come back with another post on tapering for races and winter training soon!


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