I want to bring up a complicated topic without delving into that complexity.
There is so much that could be said about how to train enough on limited time, and there are a lot of experienced people out there on the topics we can draw from. Yet I would like to provide some of my ideas for how to make the most of your very precious training time each week to keep you encouraged.
Minimum of 3 Days Practice Per Week
We do need rest built into our schedule, but allow too much rest and we lose ground in our capabilities. With too much down time we lose momentum on strength, we lose fine tuning in technique and we lose psychological eagerness to work. Think how important it is for a musician to stay tuned for the big concert – swimming is also a fine-motor control activity, with intense physical effort on top!
I imagine all of you would like more practice time, and the fact is, there are a lot of circumstances that come up to obstruct our frequency, and sometimes we can work through the inconveniences and sometimes not. But we need to acknowledge that there are significant benefits that are only experienced when our practice is frequent enough. Too little practice and we simply cannot enjoy a higher level of performance. And, for those of you who are triathletes, it is even more challenging to fit training for three sports into weekly life!
So, as a starting point for planning I suggest that we aim for a 3 day practice days per week minimum. And small practices done frequently are generally better for the body and mind than big practices done infrequently.
There are different systems that need to be trained – metabolic, muscular, motor, and mental – and they each have some particular requirements in order to be pulled up to a new level (and trained in unison with each other) – often this requires a more intense period of training. Then, they might be maintained at that new level with less work than you imagine.
It wouldn’t go well to generalize what each of you need in each of those areas – that is quite personal – but I simply want to encourage you that your practice quality and frequency needs to match your expectations for progress. With frequent, quality practice your systems will receive enough stimulation to rise to a new level, but too little and they won’t develop well.