Fit it all in - 13 tips for busy triathletes
Finding time to train for triathlon, hold down a full time job and spend enough quality time with my children and husband is a challenge, so taking advantage of all of the time saving tricks I can is very important to me. I usually get home in time for bath time, story time and a cuddle before bed, then once the children are asleep I either swim, spend time with my husband or drag him out to accompany me for a run on his bike. Most mornings I get up early – about 5am: during the week I go out once or twice on my bike with a small group of friends and I am back before the children wake up. At the weekends, I get up as early as 4am to ride more than 120 km and be home for breakfast at 8:30am. Most Sundays I run pushing both of the boys, sometimes having to bribe them to keep still with the promise of a cheese prata at the end of the run.
I am only able to train like this because my husband is so supportive of my sporting activities. With his support and by organising my life like this, cycling or running to work, training when my children are asleep, we can fit it all in!
So… to sum up, here are my best tips for ‘fitting it all in’!
Get up early
If you’ve done your training before you start the day, you’re far less likely to skip it, you can feel smug having a glass of wine with your dinner or chilling out on the couch in the evening and not need to fight with the ‘I’m too tired to exercise after a hard day’ demons in your head. It’s much easier to go to bed early than it is to get out the door after a hard day to train!
Train with your kids
If you have kids, invest in a pram you can run with. I have a Bob Revolution Duallie but there are many other great models out there! Run to take them places, for example, school, nursery. Or run with them just so you don’t need to find childcare/ babysitter when you want to go out for a run. My boys love it, and now my eldest son quite often wants to get out and run with me, “Mummy I want to wunn. I want to push the pushchair.” He trots along for a while, then when he’s tired, he jumps back in again. Quite often I get encouragement along the lines of, “Mummeeee! Faster! FASTER! I want to go FASTER!” and sometimes, “Mummee, I want to sing. Can we sing?”
Invest in a baby seat for your bike, or even a bike trailer if you have older children. You can go further, faster than running and you can use it to throw lots and lots of grocery shopping or other baggage in when the kids aren’t in it… perhaps extra resistance for hill repeats!? Some of the better ones can be bike trailers and once you park your bike, convert to a pushchair for strolling or running (some of them even convert to ski-trailers!)
To get a core work-out every day, try sitting on a swiss ball instead of a chair – at the office, at the dining table, etc.
Be generous and appreciative of your spouse, and kind to those who support you (and put up with you). Most of us couldn’t do it without them. They are important – make them feel that way.
Always be prepared
Keep sets of work-out clothes and shoes (and stuff for a shower) everywhere - in the car, at the office. That way if you have some unexpected spare time, you can sneak in a training session.
Use your own steam
Leave the car at home… or better, sell it. Commute to work on a bike or by running. If your commute is too long, get public transport part of the way then cycle or run the rest.
…literally. If you need to run to the local shop to get bread, or to the bank or post office, put on your running shoes and run. Leave the car at home.
Ask if you can work from home
You can use the time that you usually spend commuting to work out instead. If you have to join conference calls that are mainly listening, or listening to podcasts for information, you could listen while you run.
Find a gym with a crèche
If you find you never go to the gym, despite paying the membership, because you don’t know what to do with the kids, find one with babysitters. Most children I know who go to gym crèches love playing with other children and using the facilities.
Run around the pitch
I don’t, because my kids aren’t old enough yet, but I have heard of many parents taking their kids to sports matches and running laps of the pitch/ stadium while they watch the game.
Turn off the TV
And save hours. Without TV any time with your children is better quality time. Even sleeping is time better spent than in front of the box. If you absolutely must, watch it while you're on a treadmill, a turbo trainer or, at the very least, sitting on a swiss ball.
I am not suggesting you go soft on yourself… you have to be honest about this one and not use it as an excuse. When you're feeling below par, rest up, including lots and lots of sleep, eat fruit & veggies, drink lots of water , take vitamin and mineral supplements, and stay off of the alcohol. Trying to keep ploughing through an illness or injury will only drag it out, make your recovery much slower and render any training hard and pointless.
Train with Heart
Training by time and heart rate means you can know exactly how long a work out will take you so you can plan more precisely. Use the data to make your training more effective and efficient. You're far less likely to injure yourself or fatigue yourself by rushing a workout or overtraining so you can be more consistent and therefore, long term, actually spend less time training for the same results.