Training/Life Balance: How to Manage an Effective Triathlon Training Schedule

training schedule

In 2016, over 4 million people participated in triathlon events, over four times more than what was seen ten years prior.

Races have evolved to include obstacles, mud, paint, glow sticks, and anything else imaginable. The wide variety of fitness events available has greatly increased the number of participants, and in turn, brings a wider spectrum of skill levels to these events.

Triathlons are exciting races to participate in. Considering three activities instead of just one keeps things fresh, and affords participants who suffer in one area the opportunity to excel in another. People new to all forms of exercise have a challenging yet approachable goal available to them as well.

Whether it’s the first-timer or the seasoned veteran, the key to success for any triathlon is preparation. Your training schedule can amount to the equivalent of taking on a part-time job. If life is already busy this can seem like an impossible task, but as long as these tips are considered anyone can show up on race day confident that they can finish the race.

Be Realistic With Yourself

One does not simply sign up for a triathlon assuming they’re going to just wake up two hours early every day to train, especially when it will be necessary to find time in the afternoon or evening for training as well.

Obligations can build up quickly. Work, family, home repairs, birthdays and holidays all take up time, and with only a few hours of time available each day, there isn’t much room for flexibility. It’s just not as simple as waking up earlier or staying up later, especially with sleep being such an important factor in recovery.

Realize that tiredness is a struggle. People get sick, and family events pop up unplanned. Having to skip a workout happens to everyone. Sometimes injury occurs, which not only affects a training schedule but also affects your day-to-day life as well.

The times of day you’ve been used to sleeping through are going to become your best friends. Learn to love the alarm clock. When you exercise, you sleep better anyway, so sometimes getting up earlier isn’t as hard as you think.

Keeping this in mind when deciding to do a triathlon isn’t meant to dissuade. If you can realize that no training schedule is going to fit perfectly into your existing schedule (and that’s okay!) then you can move ahead to actually making this thing happen.

Let Life Dictate Your Training Schedule

If you are already waking up early for work, don’t try to wake up even earlier. Some people are gifted with the ability to wake up at 4 am or earlier, but that is a difficult thing to ask of everyone. It’s certainly not the key to success, either.

Where are the lulls in your day? Do you have a long lunch break? Fit in a short run during your break. If it takes hours to commute home, try to find a gym close by and do a workout after work, giving traffic a chance to die down.

There are ways to incorporate a training schedule into your daily routine even further. Some people opt to bike to work, which is an ideal way to get a workout in without “scheduling” it. The thought is that run volume should be one-fifth of your weekly biking distance. Biking to and from work can help you log the needed bike miles to help keep a good balance. With most of the biking out of the way, you won’t find yourself in a situation where you’re trying to cram your running and swimming miles around your long bike rides.

Living next to (safe) bodies of water, or living next to a beach can be leveraged into time for swimming. Plan more personal or family trips. A beach day can include a swim, or if you like to fish, try to begin or end it with your swim.

Make use of any apps geared toward triathletes. You likely spend a bit of time on your smartphone every day anyway. Let it help you succeed! The more your training schedule meshes with your daily habits, the bigger the weight lifted off your shoulders will be.

A Little Is Better Than Nothing at All

A training schedule isn’t conceived under the pretense that success is only possible by following it to the letter. Take each hurdle as it happens. Being able to adapt means shortening what you have to do that day and feeling okay about it.

Ironman pro Andy Potts employs a low volume training methodology. Potts has enjoyed a long career and is always exciting to watch. It’s not every day you can look at a professional athlete as a justification to shorten your training session, so take it while you can!

The golden rule is anything is better than nothing. Shorten your morning session if your evening is booked. If you find your day completely swamped, find ways to squeeze something in. Do a set of ten squats each time you go to the bathroom. Take the stairs in your office building. Sneak a few pushups in every hour.

A handful of pushups might not sound like a workout, but there have been books written about it. It’s all about quality over quantity. The reason less can be better for more is that you can put the same amount of effort in. Some marathon training programs now cap their long runs at 16 miles!

Skipping a day won’t derail your progress, but why lose out on the entire day when there is a moment to do even the smallest thing that will help you?

It’s Go Time

Have you picked which triathlon you want to do? Whether it’s a sprint or an Ironman, there are plenty of options available at most times of year as the sport gains popularity.

If you need more detailed advice on training timetables, check out our training blog. Sometimes the problem holding you back has a much simpler solution than you think.

You can’t conquer that triathlon until you start, so start training today!