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Blog Post: The gift of time: 12 tips to fit triathlon training into your busy life

When I sent out my survey a few weeks ago, first, I got so much great information from you! Second, one of the most common frustrations was TIME. There’s just not enough of it! Everyone with goals, dreams, desires and ambition has trouble fitting in all they want to do in a day (including me!). You are not alone if you’re struggling to find more time in the day to fit in your workouts. Here are 12 tips to help you squeeze more time out of your day. (Plus one tip I’ll need your help to implement!)

  1. Time management is a process, a journey, one that needs to be revisited hourly, daily and weekly throughout your life. Jump into the flow, but maintain control where you can.
  1. Analyze how you spend your time daily. Make your first goal awareness of how you use your time from day to day. Are you wasting time on useless, meaningless tasks? Can you cut those out or delegate them? This is your first resource in organizing, prioritizing and succeeding at meeting your training goals in the face of competing interests (family, work, social activities, etc).
  1. Organize, prioritize and plan your day and your week. Make a plan for when you are going to accomplish your training. What are the actions that bring you the most satisfaction, sense of accomplishment and charge your day with positive energy? Taking daily steps towards those summer triathlon dreams! The process of getting and being organized is an inherent stress reducer. Less stress = more clarity = more accomplished.

Prioritize your workouts in a similar fashion. Work them into your schedule where you have the greatest opportunity to accomplish them successfully. Make sure to do the quality workouts and the ones that strengthen your weaknesses!

  1. Develop and cultivate self-discipline to avoid procrastination. This is not about willpower. You only have a small reservoir of willpower and it gets used up quickly. Self-discipline means sticking to it: sticking to your goals, your schedule, being clear about what you are doing and why. Look at self-discipline as a positive effort rather than one of denial. Harness the power of routine: I will get my workouts done at this time on this day, hold firm with yourself. Keep yourself accountable and find friends who will help you be accountable.

Exert self-control over your training. Get clear on your workouts and how much time they will take. As you get control over your planning and priorities, you build self-discipline. As you build self-discipline, you build time management. As you improve time management, you improve self-confidence and self-efficacy, thus you are more likely to accomplish your workouts.

  1. Hire a professional triathlon coach. A good coach helps you simplify your life, maintain the discipline you need to complete your training on a regular basis, and lends an objective perspective to your life tasks meaning you accomplish your big triathlon goals. The plan is done for you, the workouts planned for you and you get help rearranging your training when the wheels fall off your life and stay on track. Read more about what it means to hire a coach (by the way, that’s me in the photo on the podium at the ITU World Championships):
  1. External & internal disruptions such as snow, a sick child or your mind. Weather and life happen. When it snows, get into a spin class or hop on an indoor bike; do a stretch cord workout instead of a swim; cross-country ski instead of riding. The change in schedule can be a positive and refreshing change in your routine. The principle of specificity dictates that cross training will give you supplemental benefits, but not sport specific benefits.

Learn to get out of your own way and harness the strength of your mind to get over the obstacles and distractions life throws at all of us.

If you have to cut a workout short, do it! Something is always better than nothing. It’s best to skip the easy workouts and focus on the hard, key workouts and those that strengthen your weaknesses. Continually falling onto the path of least resistance, i.e. your favorite workouts, leaves your training and your results unbalanced.

  1. Morning training: The night owls aren’t going to like this one. But, the reality is that getting your training done in the morning gives you more energy and endorphins for the day. And, you’re less likely to miss a workout because your day blows up and you skip your workout. It takes a bit more dedication and discipline to get your workouts done later in the day. Think of your late day workouts as a reward for a good day’s work and it’s a fantastic way to blow off the stress of the day.
  1. Training and motivation. Motivation stems from internal and external sources. We are motivated by inner desire (I really want to qualify for nationals!) or external factors (I really want to keep up the the fast lane at Masters swim!) Learn to know what motivates you. Stay inspired as this sparks motivation. Winter can create extra challenges with shorter, colder days. A case of the ‘winter blues’ can zap energy levels. (more on how to deal with this in my next post)
  1. Apply the 15-minute rule. You come up against a road block: no motivation and declining self-discipline on your workouts. Give yourself 15 minutes. Just 15 minutes. Get started, just get started! If after 15 minutes, you’re still unmotivated, stressed or tired, then stop. If you feel better, continue on. Chances are you’ll feel better and want to continue. Sometimes we just need to begin and to give ourselves the opportunity to fail, then we succeed!
  1. Get comfortable with the “n” word… no, not that one: The NO word. Setting reasonable limits gives you peace of mind and more time in your day. What can you say no to?
  1. Acceptance, flexibility and flow with your life. Acceptance of your innate humanness (read, not perfect, never was, never will be) brings peace of mind and joy. Can you fit it all in every day? Probably not, be proud of your accomplishments and revisit and recommit to your goals on the days you fall short. Just keep getting up and doing your best.
  1. Find joy in all of life’s situations. There is a positive message and opportunity in every moment. It’s a matter of choosing your thoughts and actions and changing your perspective when needed. You always have some control and some choice in your life.

Bonus tip: Because I always have your best interest in mind, I’m working on developing a 26 hour day. The only requirement is that those extra 2 hours must be used to help you be healthier, stronger, fitter and less stressed: training, healthy eating and cooking, massage, sleep, etc. I’ll keep you posted on my progress! Shoot me a note if you have some advice on how to implement my grand plan! 😉