Two-a-Day Triathlon Workout Scheduling

author : Amy Kuitse
comments : 1

Trying to figure out how to fit all of your weekly training sessions in? This guide will show the best ways to schedule your two-a-day workouts.

Managing two a day workouts can be a challenge for many of us when we are balancing a full time job, family, and triathlon training of any distance. If you have more than about six workouts per week, chances are you will have to employ two a day workouts to get all of them in during the week.  Two a day workouts may even be necessary, though not optimal, if you have time constraints due to your job or family and only have certain blocks of time available or you can only train on certain days. 

Let’s face it, there really are only 24 hours in a day.  When it comes to our training we want to use the time we have the most efficiently and productively as possible. This will serve as a guide in choosing the best ways to double-up on a workout when it comes to rearranging your training schedule.

Let’s take a look at some good two a day sequences of training that are back to back training sessions and two a day sessions broken up with a period of 4+ hours. 

Back to back sessions

  • Weight training and swimming.  I would recommend the weight training first and follow this with the swim.  This is best done on days of shorter or easier swims.  In either case you want to recognize that the arms are likely to be tired after the weight session and this will effect the swim to some extent.  This being the reason to consider shorter/easier swims with this combination, but also use the swim as an opportunity to stretch and loosen up the arms.

  • Swim/Run are another good combination as long as both are not high intensity workouts.  A hard swim could be followed by a short easy run. 

  • Run/Swim is another combination that works well, especially when only one of the workouts has intensity or is a key workout.  An easy run followed by a longer or higher intensity swim OR a long run followed by a short easy swim is helpful in flushing the legs out.

  • Run or Bike followed by upper body weight training.  In combining these two workouts you want to consider the intensity of the run or bike workout with the type of weight training you want to accomplish on this day.  These two workouts combined are best accomplished if you follow an easy run or bike workout with upper strength training only.

  • Run/Bike sessions that are back to back, but not set-up as ‘run off/brick’ sessions are best addressed as the run first.  There will be less stress and demands placed on the legs if you follow the run session with an easy spin.

In looking at any of these combinations above you want to note that initially in your training that your HR/RPE may be slightly higher than if you had the workouts separated.  In this case do not hesitate to give yourself an easy transition from one workout to the next and if you need to decrease one or both of the workouts a bit then do so.  This will allow you to get both of the sessions in and at the same time be moving in the right direction to improving your fitness.  As your fitness continues to improve you will likely see this even itself out.  I would recommend combining no more than two sessions a week, especially if you have another ‘planned’ combined session already in your weekly training. 

Yes, there are fitness benefits to be gained in these combined sessions, but there are also strength and fitness benefits to be gained in having time between sessions.  In most all cases it is best NOT to combine ‘KEY’ workout days if at all possible.

Morning and noon workouts

In the case of sessions that you have 4+ hours of time between mornings and noon, four hours appear to work best for many people.  This combination seems to work well for a number of reasons:

  • We are able to get up in the morning and take in some type of light nutrition prior to the workout (ie., banana, toast) and follow the workout with a healthy breakfast that may include fruit, yogurt, bagel, etc.

  • In the case of a noon workout we are able to take in a light snack mid-morning.  This may include nuts or fruit for example and then lunch following the noon workout.

  • Fueling right before or during the workout sometimes works if you are not able to get in a mid-morning snack and depending on the workout.  Some find it works well to take in a gel prior to their workout or take a form of liquid nutrition.

  • We find ourselves packing healthy snacks and lunches in order to make this combination work.  It unfortunately means eating while we are heading back to work or eating at our desk, but the benefit of packing our own snack and lunch makes this a worthwhile combination.

Morning and late afternoon workouts

The second combination of separated workouts that I feel is managed by folks, just not as popular as the morning/noon sessions is a morning and late afternoon workout.  If you can get yourself out the door immediately after work then this seems to be manageable and minimizes cutting into family and personal time in the evening.  This still allows you to pack your own snacks and lunch for the benefits of the afternoon workout.  It may require more discipline from you not to go out to lunch or if you do go out to lunch, to make the ‘better’ nutritional choice for the workout ahead.

In looking at any of these combinations of how you may personally need to ‘change’ your training schedule, you want take a look at what phase of your training that you are in.  In the early stages of base building we are working on our aerobic engine so we are doing sessions in lower HR zones/RPE.  As stated above, if you do back to back workouts take notice of your HR/RPE and adjust the workout time or rest between workouts as needed.  As you enter into the latter stages of your base building phase you can take advantage of these back to back days for fitness gains.  You could even use a bike and run session day as an extra run off/brick workout to improve your run off. 

These combination days may take more discipline by you from the perspective of watching your HR/RPE, looking at your nutrition, packing your own snacks and lunches, but at the same time this can also be to your advantage.  Think of the benefits of taking charge of your day while making healthy nutritional choices and getting fit all at the same time!  Sounds like a great COMBINATION doesn’t it!!!


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date: February 5, 2010

Amy Kuitse