Life goes haywire from time to time for everyone. You’ve organized your day, you’ve organized your week, you’ve got a triathlon training plan, you’ve got your workouts, you’re on a roll. Then, boom! Bad weather hits, your kids get sick, your boss wants that project done now, your car breaks down: Life Happens.
Here are 6 ways to salvage your training in the face of life’s daily challenges:
- Let go of perfectionism. I have worked with many medical professionals over the years. During a recent conversation with one of them, we discovered when it’s important to be perfect and when it’s not. When you are holding someone’s life in your hands on operating table, be perfect, please! If your work means life or death to you or someone else, please work to be as perfect as possible.
But, when you hang up your hat at the end of the day, flip the switch. Turn off the perfectionism and be a human being. Do your workouts, do them whole or in part, do them imperfectly, but do something! Then enjoy the sense of pride and endorphins that come with having accomplished physical activity, especially when it moves you another inch closer to your triathlon goals and dreams.
If your workout is just not happening today because of unknown obstacles, make a plan to get it done another day. Then be a duck, let it roll off your back. Eyes forward, keep paddling.
- How to prioritize your workouts. If time and motivation are in very short supply, follow the path of least resistance. Do the workout that you know you can accomplish on some level, even if a shortened version. This may point to your weak or strong event. But, do not let this pattern take over week after week where you end up neglecting your weaker events. Your swim will never improve if you lack consistency.
Next option is to simply shorten the workouts that are less convenient or harder for you to accomplish. You can do a lot in 20 to 30 minutes. Frequency is key. Shorter, more frequent bouts of training performed over time help you maintain fitness gains and improve or maintain skill levels.
- Focus. What to be doing this time of year. This time of year brings different priorities for different levels of triathlon involvement, experience and goals. If you’re a novice, time to start! Get moving! Get in the pool, on the roads (or treadmill) and on the bike 1-2 times/week. Spend a little more time on your weakest event. Now is the time to strengthen that weakness.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced athlete, you are well into your base or foundational training phase. Continue to work to improve weak skills, especially in the pool so you are ready for open water when the weather warms. Aerobic training is the main focus, but you need to maintain intensity and speed across the board. Too much slow, easy training, trains you to be slow.
If your goal is to get stronger and faster, then intensity (intervals) need to be part of your training year round. There are many levels and variables to interval training: speed, strength, hills, power, increased cadence (neuromuscular adaptation in the swim, bike or run), etc. Intensity level, interval time and recovery time are variables that can be manipulated in a multitude of ways to meet your needs and goals.
Intensity needs to be balanced with recovery to keep you healthy and sharp. A good triathlon coach can help you determine your strengths and weaknesses and create training plans to target your goals.
- 15-minute rule. Apply the 15-minute rule when the battle inside is raging. Do I skip it or just do it? Will it help me or hurt me? What do I do? The 15 minute rule says just start and assess how you’re feeling as you go. Let the stresses of the day fall away. If you’re feeling better after 15 minutes you can choose to quit and say well done for doing something OR you can keep going. If you don’t feel better, then let it go and know that you truly gave it your best shot.
- Quick hit workouts. When all you’ve got is 20 minutes and you’re ready for a workout, here are some quick hit workouts to get you started:
–Swim: 100 easy warm up; 6×50 build speed with each interval (10-20 seconds rest between; 6-10×100 at threshold or faster, 15-30 sec rest (RPE 7 of 10 or higher). 100 cool down.
–Bike: 3 minutes of easy spinning to warm up. 1×3 minute fast spins (90-110 rpms). 1 minute easy spin. 4×2 minutes to threshold or higher (RPE 7 of 10 or higher), 30s recovery spin. 3 minutes easy cool down.
–Run: 5 minutes of easy jogging. 10x20s fast running (RPE 7 of 10 or higher), 40s easy running between. 5 minutes of easy running to cool down.
- Choose a path of peace. Let go of fear and worry; this puts you in a state of stress. Focus on this moment. Worry has us thinking of the what-ifs of the future and the if-onlys of the past and missing the importance of this moment well lived. Accept who you are, what you do or do not do. Acceptance of what is brings peace.
Training, fitness, triathlon goals and races are what we do for fun and for our mental and physical health. Keep it that way!