An thus follows my rambling thoughts on my personal training…
I will say that I don’t have a particularly detailed training plan or method that I follow. Overall I believe that the most important thing is to do whatever works for you (as long as it isn’t actively dangerous). This isn’t entirely to say anything goes – if you want to be a CrossFit champion, you’ll need to do your WODs, but if you just want to increase your fitness and hate a certain class or activity, do something else!
I’m fairly low key when it comes to my training plan. I do work out 5 to 6 days a week most weeks, sometimes including two-a-days during race season. Overall I generally run less than you’ll see in a lot of triathlon training plans, because I’ve found running more than two or three days a week doesn’t work well for me. I generally do one interval run and one long run a week, sometimes with a third run if I’m doing a two-a-day or on travel where it is difficult to cycle or swim. I swim twice a week, take a spin class, and lift once a week. My long weekend workout is either a long run, long ride, or bike/run brick depending on what I’m training for.
“But”, you ask “don’t [THEY] say you have to do [something very detailed] to be successful?” Well, whatever you’re asking about probably works for some people. If it sounds like something you could do, try and see if it works. Part of the lackadaisical nature of my training plan is because I’m more driven by being personally fit than by trying to beat other people in a race, and part is because of what I’ve discovered works best for me as a balance between being prepared to complete races and the rest of what I want to do with my time. For example, I discovered during my training for the MCM last year that I do better if I do a distance building run (greater than 10 miles) every other week, with either a 6-8 mile run or a bike ride on the alternating weeks. I can add about 10% of the last distance each distance building run, but only if those runs are every other week. That is part of why my training period for the MCM was too short for me – I was using a suggested training plan that had the distance building runs every week. Since that quickly proved to painful for me, I modified it to better work for me.
The same things apply for hydration and nutrition in training and races – do what works for you, although you should probably try something in training before planning to do it on race day. Now that I know what gels I like, I rarely use them in training since I find I don’t really need the additional calories even during long workouts. But I do use electrolyte powder in my water on long runs, especially in the summer.
For me, the most important part of training is consistency – regularly swimming, cycling, and running. For that means morning workouts, but as you develop you own training strategies, try anything that looks promising to you. If it works, keep it. If not, keep experimenting. Whatever you can stick with is probably the right plan for you.