You can follow some of my training here: My training
I believe that crossing the finish line of any long distance triathlon is a fantastic achievement. This achievement is typically the result of months of training. It is hopefully (in case the race goes according to plan) a photography of the level of fitness of the athlete on race day.
Now, obviously, most competitors want to increase their level of fitness to be able to get faster. And this can only be the result of training. There are an infinite number of training plan and coaches available around. The only advice I had been given that really work for me are:
- Get a coach. The only time I really improved was when I got a coach. Find one that is close to your home, that you can trust (recommended by friends), and that will design a tailored plan for you, with your key strengths and weaknesses in mind
- High training volume at aerobic threshold is critical if you want to perform well at long distance triathlons
- Use a heart rate monitor as a measure of training intensity
- Train consistently: train day-in, day-out, weeks after weeks
On the last point, I thought the advice from The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing byPhilip Maffetone was very helpful. I like the approach where you focus on long-term benefits and building a strong base as opposed to burning too many matches quickly. Improving takes time. Sustainability of training is key. I also really like Alan Couzens blog, which focuses on high-performance in long distance triathlon.
As you probably understand, I currently do not suffer from long-term movement-limiting symptoms, although I have had serious trouble walking during some relapses.
I am currently not training with a coach, as I believe I have integrated the main training principles that I followed while I had a coach. I typically train most days: I commute running or riding, I try to squeeze in a swim session at lunch time. During weekends, I go for long rides and long runs. This is a very typical training schedule for a long-distance athlete. It currently equates to 15h of training per week.
15 hours of training per week requires life adjustment. You need to fuel properly, you need to recover (I need a lot of sleep!). Training every day has an impact on the rest of our life. It minimises the time you have available for friends and families.
The main question that this raises for me as a person with MS is: how does this impact the potential progress of my disease and the mid-term symptoms. Scientific answers have been very hard to come across. Most neurologists and clinical studies available recommend exercise as an essential way to manage MS. It helps increase balance, resistance to fatigue, mobility and quality of life. You even find some people who pretend that training has cured them from MS. I do not believe this is true, and I do not pretend that long distance triathlon training is helping me cure my MS. However, it helps me focus on something else when symptoms pop up, and it is a great way to set goals for yourself.
Now, physical activity and exercise can highly vary in volume and intensity. There are a number of pro athletes who live with MS. This does not mean that a high-volume of exercise is recommended. I try to take care of myself as much as I can. I stop training when I feel too tired. I look for balance in general.
If you have any insights, I am obviously very interested.