By Lauren Heinken, Member of the 2014 Recharge With Milk Triathlon Series Ambassador Team
It is no secret that amateur triathletes tend to be very on–the-go people. It is something I have noticed time and time again through my experiences training with a variety of individuals over my time in the sport. It seems that the same personality trait which drives a person to engage in countless hours of training and racing for fun is responsible for the tendency to dive head first into life in general. No challenge is too big…no timeline is too tight…any curveball life can throw can be handled with grace and speed. This can pose challenges with respect to triathlon training; every triathlete wants to accomplish all the training they need to complete their chosen race distance. Even if they are able to do this, often less than optimal amounts of time are left over for recovery and sleep.
I have developed a few strategies that have really helped me fit a demanding training schedule into my life, while capitalizing on my training effects by allowing my body adequate time for rest. These are applicable to those just wanting to start training for their first MSC event, those looking to increase their training volumes, or those just looking to fine tune their current training plan.
1. Plan, plan, and plan some more…
* I’m not talking months in advance…sure setting out a master plan and outlining goals for the season is very important. But I am talking on a week-to-week basis here, it is simply about knowing the workouts you need to do and planning for when you need to do them. Doing this on say a Sunday evening to plan for the upcoming week can work wonders in ensuring you don’t end up ditching key workouts when things get a little busy. Sitting down and planning out your week allows you to account for potential challenges well in advance and plan how you will work your training around them.
2. But don’t set your plan in stone
* Having a plan is key, but unfortunately the unexpected can, and often does happen. You might get tied up late at work or your child may get sick; whatever the reason, know that it is ok to move the workout to another time. Even if you miss a workout, it is not the end of the world. Knowing this and being realistic will help you maintain your training regimen in the long run.
3. Focus on areas where you have the most to gain
* When time is tight it is important to prioritize components of your training. If you are already a fairly strong swimmer and runner, chances are focusing on improving your cycle will reap greater rewards than trying to make further marginal improvements to your swim or run. In addition, keep in mind the proportion each discipline occupies within the race as a whole. Most often the swim is the shortest part and the cycle is the longest. Therefore, improvements in your cycle will likely boost your overall race performance faster, and to a greater extent then will improvements on the swim.
4. Don’t forget about mornings
* I do a very large portion of my training early in the morning before I head off to work or school. Not only does this leave me feeling energized to start my day, but it also reduces the amount of training I need to do in the evenings. This means more time to recover, relax, and spend time with family and friends. Also, if you are doing two workouts in a day, doing one in the morning and one in the evening allows for a long recovery period between workouts and will likely increase your ability to nail all your hard sessions and feel better during training. Note, early morning wake ups need to be accompanied by earlier bedtimes- if you struggle with sleeping early enough to get a full night’s rest morning workouts might not be for you.
5. Put the focus on FUN
* Train with others, try some cross training, mix up your workouts each week…do whatever you need to do to keep things fresh and fun! Training does NOT need to be a strict, solo, and regimented in order to be effective. If training ever starts to feel like a job its time to change things up, this is what we do for fun after all. Keeping this mindset about training will work wonders for preventing the motivational lows that may hinder your training progress.