Time Management in Triathlon: “Perfecting” the Life-Work-“Play” Balance
by Christine Davis, DPT, ATC, CSCS, ART-Cert.
Training for a triathlon is a great endeavor to undertake, regardless of the distance. It requires determination, perseverance and a “can’t stop” attitude. But how can you pursue this endeavor without losing the fanfare of your biggest supporters? How can you train enough to prepare for the event and not feel guilty or selfish for pursuing a dream? While the average triathlete is often categorized as a Type A, over-achiever, over scheduled individual, if you ask most triathletes they will tell you it takes discipline and focus (and often a village) to do it all successfully. But what are the little things, strategies, a new or seasoned triathlete can take to better balance training with family and work? Below are a few tips and strategies to learn to maximize every minute with training, so you can “do it all”:
- Find your motivation: This is key as it will get you up in the morning, allow you to log hours of training, and make some other sacrifices. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find ways to make it work. Your WHY has to be strong enough and greater than your excuses! Do you want to set a good example for your kids? Do you want to prove to yourself you can get to that start (and finish) line? Put your “WHY” somewhere you can see daily, when you wake up to remind you why you are on this journey!
- Create Goals: It’s important to back up your why with short term and long term goals to keep you focused throughout the training season. Let’s face it, the triathlon season can be long (especially with longer distances) and sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. If you make specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals for both the short term (1 week, 1 month) and long term (3-6 months) you are more likely to have success staying the course and achieving your ultimate goal! Short term goals also help you recognize the little things that add up to the big training gains! Additionally, goals can keep you focused, and not log in “junk” miles, allowing you to better balance your family, friends and work with your training.
- Hire a coach: While a coach is an additional expense, a coach develops a specific training plan for you, based on your goals, experience, and life schedule. As things pop up, as they always will, your coach can adjust your schedule to make sure you are still getting in your key workouts. Without a coach, there is a greater probability of feeling like you are not doing enough and over train, burn out or get injured and may lead to spending more time training instead of with your family. With a coach, you do not have to stress out about what workout to do next and worry if you are doing enough. Additionally, with a coach, you are not spending time planning your training schedule, which can be a time-consuming activity.
- Use Science: Make sure you are functioning at your optimal level through measurable objective data. Have someone peak at your flexibility and assess your strength. Get your movement analyzed in real-time using dorsaVi wearable sensor technology. Find your heart rate training zones and how efficiently your body utilizes oxygen in a VO2 test. Even get your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) done to ensure proper nutritional balance for recovery and strength building.
- Be organized! With three different sports, there is a lot of equipment, clothing, “accessories” that can be specific to each sport (i.e. bike, running shoes, swim aids), or used for all three disciplines (nutrition, Garmin, heart rate monitor, body glide). Instead of having to go through a checklist and having to pack/repack before every training session, find a system that works for you to keep organized so you do not forget a vital component when training. Personally, I have a separate training bag for each discipline which has everything I need. I also stock up on the things that I use for all the disciplines (i.e. body glide, inhaler) and place one in each bag so I do not have to move from bag to bag. This way I do not forget anything that would prohibit me from completing a training session. You can also “Create a tri-trunk” - a bag that contains everything you might need – toiletries to swim buoys, extra clothing, for every sport. Always have this with you – to be equipped in case you have a hole in your schedule that you can fill with training! I also stock up on my nutrition needs (once I know what works) so I do not have to make multiple trips to the store.
- DO your strengthening and stretching exercises!! Spending a little time before a training session to foam roll, perform dynamic warm ups and activating the neuromuscular system and some stretching after will help keep those injury niggles at bay. Injuries interrupt the training schedule and increase the time commitment with doctor and therapy visits. You can incorporate your family in these exercises – have your kids imitate your stretches and activities and make it fun!!
- Use your calendar: Treat your workouts like any other important meeting/appointment; block out the time and get it done. If you schedule it, it becomes non-negotiable. To avoid conflicts, get out of bed and train early in the morning when the family is still sleeping. At this time there are no distractions, no excuses, with the added benefit that your significant other will be very unhappy if you keep snoozing your alarm and do not actually get up. Utilize a bike trainer to get your bike workouts in. While not always as exciting and fun, it is more time efficient. Remember that your time training is an investment in your physical and mental well being, so do not feel guilty. Think of ways to be productive during your downtime. Turn errands into workouts. Your daughter has a softball game? Bring your trainer to the field and ride the bike while cheering on your kid! Not only will you get your training in, your child will think you are a rockstar! You can turn your commute to work to a training session by running or riding to work, or get a workout in during lunch. The opportunities are endless!
Most importantly, make sure you have fun! Triathlon training can take up a lot of time, so use your time wisely and efficiently so you can spend time with your family and friends and keep your job!
Christine is availble for scheduling out of our Burr Ridge clinic:
7055 High Grove Blvd
Burr Ridge, IL 60527