Preparing For Success

The Importance of Planning


This week we look at the importance of preparation and discuss how to manage a busy lifestyle and training with 23 year old graduate student and triathlete Viktor Jensen Mårup.

Viktor, firstly please tell us which came first, competing in Ironman events, studying or the part-time job?

I started running in early 2012 and quickly got into triathlon. Things evolved rather fast, and that year I ran my first marathon and did my first half iron distance race. Two years later, I began my post-graduate studies and took on a part time job. This was at an offseason time of year, but still felt a bit stressful in the beginning. Luckily enough, I managed to fit it all in.

In terms of training, what does a typical week look like for Viktor Jensen Mårup?

I have about 7-10 hours of active training in my weekly schedule. These are divided between swimming, biking, running, and a bit of core/strength training. Each week is different from the next with “running” weeks with up to 5 run workouts and “bike” weeks with more focus and more time on the bike.

Viktor's typical weekly training at-a-glance:

Monday: 1½ hours
Biking: low cadence "strength-endurance" intervals followed by a short offbike run

Tuesday: 1 hour
Heavy strength training: squats and deadlift, 3x3RM, and core

Wednesday: 1 hour
Running: 200m intervals

Thursday: 1h40m
Running: 1 hour with focus on technic and cadence
Swimming: short, all-out intervals

2k easy swim

Saturday: 2h 50m
Biking: 2½ hours easy biking followed by 20 minutes off-bike run

Sunday: 1h15m
15k race at FTP (full throttle for just under an hour) + warm up

For a triathlete, Viktor doesn't train for an enormous period of time but he focuses
on the quality of each workout, meaning most of his training is interval based.

After you decide on an event, how do you go about planning your training for that event?
How do you make sure you’re balanced with time spent training in each discipline?

Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to have a coach who does my planning on a large scale. I can move my workouts around within a given week, but he plans the framework. This means that I don’t have to worry too much about whether or not I am training enough or the right way. But if you don't have this luxury, there are plenty of free templates that you can use. In order to succeed, you have to work to a schedule but it also has to involve some flexibility to be able to fit in with 'real life'.

For many people with busy life-styles and a family to raise, finding the time to get good quality training in can be challenging to say the least. What advice would you give to someone who is working towards a goal but has very limited free time?

Match your expectations. Find out what your goal with your training really is, how much time you can set aside for it, and especially if you have a partner; talk to them about their expectations from you and vice versa. You probably have to adjust your schedule somewhat to theirs. When you’re away from your family and friends and are out training, you want to be focused on just that and not feel guilty for not being home right now. And when you’re home, you don’t want to feel guilty for the training that you didn’t do.

Besides planning your time, figure out what type of training works for you. What are your weak spots and where do you have room for improvement? Find out where you get the most “bang for your buck” in terms of your body’s response to your training.

Do people have to be realistic and conservative in their goals if they have limited time or can a lot be achieved if the training is focused?

I have always believed that you can do whatever you set your mind to. But of course time can be a limiting factor. Some people can gain a lot with very little effort, and some cannot.
I think it is important to remember that your body follows the law of economics called “diminishing marginal returns”. This means that you get the most out of the first ‘unit’ of your ‘investment’ and less and less thereafter. So when you’ve done 10 hours of training one week, the difference from spending one more hour might be so small, that you’re better off spending that one hour with your legs up, resting.

Which times of day are best for you to train?

I am not a morning person. I can probably count the number of times in the past few years I got up early before school or work to train on just one hand. For some it might work to get up early and get your workout done. Personally, I function better in the afternoon when my body is more awake.

How long [generally] are your aerobic-based training sessions?

I would most often do workouts longer than 45 minutes. When motivation sometimes is at a low, I consider that a little training might be a lot better than none and may also clear my head or wake me up. Taking the first step outside the door is often the hardest one. I often find my motivation coming to me when I get going.

How important are rest days?

How do you build rest into such a busy schedule?

Recovery and in your sleep is when you get better and stronger. I could easily sleep 9 hours every day, but don’t always get to. I choose to get my sleep every day of the week, even though it sometimes means leaving my friends early in the weekends.


Studying for long hours can have an obvious negative effect on our sleep. How do you ensure you get the right amount of sleep?

Priority is key. Don’t stay up all night watching movies!

How much importance should you place on nutrition? Do you plan your meals?

It's important to eat well. I don’t plan a lot ahead but I try to eat a lot of vegetables. One of the perks of the amount of training that I do is all the food you get to eat without having to feel guilty.

Finally, an ultimatum; if you could only choose one, which would you opt for; a highly successful career but no more time to train or a low salary but a successful triathlete career? Which matters to you most and why?

A successful triathlon career sounds awesome – I would love that! I would definitely choose the happier life, doing what I love most. A high paying job is not worth much if you don’t love what you do!