Swim,… bike… AND run training!?!? And work! And Family! AND everything else in life! How the heck does one manage all of this? Welcome to the world of being a triathlete. ;)
Triathlon training can certainly be a plate-full for most people, BUT IT CAN BE DONE. Below we will discuss considerations you should make prior to the start of training as well as strategies to better manage the time you do have and how to maximize it.
First time triathletes as well as those stepping up in distance (olympic, IRONMAN 70.3® or IRONMAN®) often have trouble figuring out how to fit the training into life.
First Things First
As a professional triathlon coach, before committing to such a goal, I highly recommend making sure your race goals (time and/or distance) are actually realistic given your personal (current) life situation. If you’re unsure, speaking with a knowledgeable & EXPERIENCED triathlon coach will save you a lot of stress down the road.
Goals can be modified, your training approached can be altered and compromises can and often need to be made. However, sometimes people discover they may be overreaching (you darn type A overachiever).
In this case, something has to give. Perhaps a shorter distance, less competitive time goal or considering a single sport goal is a better idea. No need to add additional stress in your already hectic life. Ya feel me?
7 Time Management Strategies
For Triathlon Training
Now that you’ve determined you have the time (or will find the time) to dedicate to the training, below are 7 helpful time management strategies. Use the suggestions below to help maximize the triathlon training time you have available.
1. You’re the Boss!
Often time triathlon training programs can be set up in a way to fit YOUR SCHEDULE and maximize the time YOU HAVE rather then searching for time you don’t. This is where online training plans fail… because they aren’t SPECIFIC TO YOUR SCHEDULE.
By having a custom training program that works with your schedule you are more likely to be successful and complete the necessary workouts. AND if you’re lucky enough to have a triathlon coach who encourages communication (as often as necessary… like RTA) it’s a HUGE PLUS!
When unforeseen circumstances come up (and they will), a quick text message and reply from your coach will take the guess work out of “what you should do.”
2. Plan Your Week in Advance
It’s a good idea to become familiar with your workouts for the week ahead. This way you can plan how and when you’ll be able to get in your workouts.
You may be able to get into a weekly routine with training, but if you have travel for work, family obligations or anything else that may vary on a weekly basis preparing in advance will help significantly.
3. Block Out Training Time
After you become familiar with the training week ahead, it’s a good idea to try to block out time for training. Unless there’s an unexpected emergency this set time should be non negotiable. THIS WILL BE YOUR TIME.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to workout during your lunch break (which by the way is a GREAT time for a workout) make sure you set your work calendar to show you will be unavailable during this time. This will help avoid silly meetings that can wait for later. It will also give you an energy boost for the second half of the day!
4. Get Up and Get To It
Based on my personal experience and having coached 100’s of athletes, working out in the morning is the way to go. Hands down, no question.
Yes, it sucks to get out of your warm bed, BUT this is the BEST time of the day. This is the time before any distractions, road blocks or detours can happen.
By the time you leave work (assuming you leave on time) it’s likely you’re exhausted and the LAST THING YOU WANT TO DO is jump in the pool. If you have a second workout for the day OR you simply have no other option, you’ll have to do what you have to do. However, if that morning workout is even an option, do it! (PS – I don’t care if you’re not a morning person… DVR the Tonight Show and get to bed early).
5. Pack The Night Before
Whether you’re working out in the morning, afternoon or evening packing your bag or setting up your training area the night before will save you time and ensure you have EVERYTHING you need.
There’s nothing worse then arriving at the gym and discovering you forgot your swimsuit… or goggles… or paddles. Similarly, make sure you have a flat repair kit before heading out on the road. And equally important as your equipment, don’t forget your nutrition (i.e. water, calories and electrolytes).
6. Extra Clothes & Training Gear
Sometimes things happen that are out of your control. Or you forget to pack the night before and consequently forget something important.
It’s a good idea to leave “extras” in the trunk of your car or in the bottom of your gym bag. Extra sneakers, run shorts, t shirt, socks, swimsuit, goggles ect.
What happens if you show up at the pool and discover it is closed for maintenance?
Instead of losing the only time you have available to workout, you can call an audible and jump in on a spin class or hop on the treadmill. At the very least, you can stretch out and work on strengthening your core.
Plan B may not be ideal, but is most cases it’s better then taking an unplanned day off for something silly.
7. What’s Most Efficient?
Sometimes no matter how well planned you are, time is still tight.
When this is the case and you need to be super efficient. The bike trainer and home treadmill are not a bad option.
Fortunately or unfortunately, 100% of the time it will take less time from start to finish when you decide to ride your bike trainer instead of going out on the road. Sorry, but it’s true.
Another consideration: If your training program requires 2 workouts in a day, it is usually more efficient to combine a swim and run OR a bike and run… compared to a swim and bike.
Most pools facilities have treadmills or a decent place to go for a run outside. Similarly it’s very easy to hop off your bike and go for a run. This way (time permitting), you can do your workouts back to back (when it makes sense) with minimal time wasted.
Sometimes the challenge is not necessarily the workouts, but the finding the TIME required for everything. If you’re smart, realistic with your goals and learn how to maximize your time, you’ll soon become a triathlon time management ninja! ;)
Do you have other tips? Let us know by sharing in the comment section below.