The Next Level - February 2004

Greetings and welcome once again to The Next Level monthly newsletter. Thank you for your continued patronage and for letting me help you take it to the next level. I hope your training is going well and youíre having a good time while at it!

Last month I mentioned I was working on a strength training article. I did not have the opportunity to finish it (itís gonna be a doozy), but if youíre interested in the incomplete version, check it out here: Strength training. You can also visit the online version of this newsletter at www.martygaal.com/nextlevel.

This month Iím going to discuss prioritization and optimization in multisport training, and hopefully share some knowledge that will help you make wise training decisions. Our weekly lives are never completely predictable Ė with various combinations of full-time jobs, continuing education, children, spouses, second jobs, and social lives (if youíve managed to retain one, that is), and it is important that you be able to determine what your priority is on any given week.

One of the biggest challenges of multisport training is balancing the what, when, where, and how, and itís absolutely critical that you understand the why! At different times of the year we are all working on different aspects of our training regimens, and there is no one correct schedule for everyone. Thus, my challenge as a coach is to help you decide what is your priority at a given time of the year, then scheduling those priority workouts in an optimal fashion within your weekly constraints. H

Here, in no particular order, are my unofficial lists of prioritized training for different events:


  1. Long run with sub-marathon pace (MP) (18-22m)
  2. Shorter long run with MP (10-15m)
  3. Frequency of running sessions 30min or more (4 short and 1 long is better than 2 long)
  4. Fartlek/tempo runs (8-12m)
  5. Frequency/maintenance of other sports & drills

Sprint to International Distance Triathlon

  1. Long ride (40-60m depending on time of season, etc)
  2. Long run (6-12 miles depending on skill level, time of season, etc)
  3. Swim frequency (and increased yardage/drills for those who consider this a weakness)
  4. Fartlek/interval runs
  5. Shorter tempo bike work (group rides)
  6. Strength sessions
  7. Frequency of all sports & drills

Half to Full Ironman

  1. Long brick workout or long solo ride (depending on the week)
  2. Long run (14-22 depending on individual and time until race)
  3. Long swim session
  4. Either 2 bike strength workouts or 1 more long ride (time dependent among individuals)
  5. Tempo run (10-12 miles with 50% or so in Z2+)
  6. Frequency of all sports & drills
  7. Strength sessions


  1. Run speedwork (Z4/Z5a) 2-6 miles (depending on individual)
  2. Long easy run (8-12)
  3. Mid-range tempo run (example: 2 easy, 5 at half-marathon pace, 1 easy)
  4. Recovery riding or strength training
  5. Running drills
  6. Frequency of other sport sessions (if youíre a triathlete)

These lists are not meant to be entirely comprehensive, nor are they intended to be the absolute method by which you should judge and adjust your weekly training. However, these are the methods, by and large, that work for the majority of athletes in the multisport arena. So the next time you have to pick up the kids, mow the lawn, finish the big report for your boss, cook dinner, and wash the dogÖwell, I donít know if these lists will help you in that case! ;-) But you might be able to run through your schedule and say, ďWell, my priority right now is clearly Y, so if I must, I can drop X workout to make sure I fit in Y workout.Ē

Itís not an exact science, but thatís the way it goes.

In other news, we have a number of athletes aiming for early season marathons. First to bat is Doug T - running his first, the LA Marathon in March. Go get it, Doug!

We also have a slew of early season triathlons coming up as well as a few road races on the scene, but Iíll wait until next month to start yammering about how great everyoneís going to do!

Thatís all for now, stay happy and healthy, and remember that spring is right around the corner.

Enjoy your sport,
Marty Gaal