How can you train for three triathlon disciplines, compete/participate in triathlons, work and have a life? Oh, and have all of it without suffering from ‘triathlete guilt’?
Time is a challenge for most triathletes. Training is time-consuming and all of our lives seems busier than ever. So, while it might not be difficult to find the time to get some exercise each day, the time to train properly and do everything else can be tricky. Below are the top tips from Team Inspire so you can better fit your training into your hectic schedule and reduce your triathlete guilt.
Every single one of us seem pressed for time and yet we all have time for our highest priorities - right? Before you do anything else, think about what’s really important to you. What sacrifices are you willing to make for the sake of your training? Conversely, what are you not willing to sacrifice?
There’s no right or wrong answers here - there are just your answers. This is designed to help you identify the activities in your day or week that are not as important as your training time, allowing you to cut back or even eliminate them. As an example, the time to make a shopping list, do a shop, prep and cook might be more trouble than it’s worth so maybe it’s time to investigate a healthy, home delivered, prepared meal option. Maybe the time to mow the lawn could be better spent training - bring in a lawn mowing service.
Create a schedule
Sit down and write out what you do and when you do it in a typical workday. Look for any waste or excess that can be addressed to create more training time. Suppose your schedule reveals that you currently watch two hours of TV in the evening. Why not cut that back to 90 minutes and squeeze in a 30-minute workout? Do you wait in the school pick up line moving at a snail’s pace when you could park further away getting pick up done faster and get an extra run or walk in too?
Create a new schedule with the waste and excess cut out and the extra training time added, and then stick to it!
Consistency is the most important characteristic of an effective training regimen. So if you don’t always have time for what you consider a ‘full workout’ every day, then at least try to do more than nothing every day.
Many mistakenly believe that a 20-minute workout is not worth the bother, but it is, especially if you crank up the intensity or use the time to work on an otherwise neglected aspect of your fitness (technique, strength, etc.).
Save the big workouts for weekends or other days when you have less time pressure, and on the other days, just do something.
Triathletes have found many creative ways to fit training into a tight schedule. Ride your bike to work. Invest in a treadmill and run on it in the evening while your kids play or do their homework nearby. Take the family to the pool and swim while your partner watches the kids, then switch places and let your partner have their turn. Same at the park (for a run) or on the bike-track (for a ride)!
You know what they say: Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Create an understanding with your partner
Time spent training can be a major conflict issue in couples where one member is an endurance athlete and the other is not. As with every potential source of conflict in a relationship, the best ways to minimise partner training time resentment are communication and compromise.
Sit down with your partner and talk openly about the time you spend on your training. Let them know that spending quality time with them and working out are both important to you, and you wish to balance the two in a way that makes you both happy. Describe your idea of a fair balance and then invite your partner to describe theirs. Be willing to give a little and don’t shy away from asking your partner to give a little too. You could also invite them to train with you!
The result of this process will be a mutually agreed upon set of expectations that will prevent conflict in the future.
If you both train - take it in turns - alternate outside training days so the kids are not left alone and you get equal time to do distance training.
Take a seasonal approach
There is no need to train at peak levels year-round. You can have great success by training hard for six months each year (mid-spring to mid-autumn) and doing low-key maintenance training the rest of the year. In the off-season you can devote the time that is freed up by your reduced training load to other priorities that are neglected somewhat during the other half of the year - those DIY projects perhaps? Devoting extra time to these other priorities during the off-season will enable you to put training first without guilt or consequence in the warmer months.
Focus on quality
So before you even look for ways to increase the quantity of your training, first increase its quality. A high-quality training program is well-rounded. Often triathletes make the mistake of doing too many similar workouts. Book a session with a personal trainer specialising in triathlon training to get some expert advice on making the most of the training you are doing.
Balance is an essential characteristic of effective triathlon training. It’s also an essential characteristic of a healthy lifestyle. We hope these tips will help you better balance your training and the rest of your life.
*Disclaimer - we are not qualified personal trainers but we do train daily. Please seek your doctor’s advice before commencing any exercise program.