Training for a sport that’s actually three sports rolled into one can be quite challenging. Chances are that you’ve felt the ‘time crunch’ at some point and may find it hard to combine training with work, your family life and your own social time/free time. Life can feel like a constant rush, between meetings, appointments and everything in between, it can be hard to find the time to get to the swimming pool. We don’t all have the luxury of reducing our other responsibilities in favour of training time, and there are a few habits that we can build into our days, to ensure we make the most out of the time we have.
A solid morning and evening routine can set you up for a well-organized day. A straightforward structure can allow you to fit in quality training sessions in with your other day-to-day activities, and ensure you can juggle your other demands equally. This, in turn, can have a big impact on your performance come race day. Below, we share 8 tips for setting yourself up for success at the beginning and end of each day:
Leave your bedroom as you want to find it. A good night’s sleep is absolutely crucial for recovery and health and a ‘good nights sleep’ actually starts as soon as you get up in the morning. Take a moment to open a window and air the room. Strip your bedcovers back. Make sure you take the steps in the morning to help yourself out when it comes to bedtime.
Let your session dictate when you wake up. If you only have an easy run or turbo session first thing in the morning then you might be fine waking up just 15 minutes or so before you’re due to start. Sometimes rolling out of bed into the first clothes you can find is okay. Other times, a more intensive session is required and this means you should give your time to mentally prepare yourself. Get up, get dressed, have some breakfast and a coffee and take time to prep yourself for the session (and day) ahead. On days like these, it can be helpful to set your alarm for a little earlier than you need to be awake for or start your session later in the morning if possible so that you can get the most out of your session.
Fuel thoughtfully. As with timing, the goal of your first session should influence what (and whether) you need to eat beforehand. If only doing easier aerobic sessions, it’s okay to fast. Tougher, longer workouts will require sustenance, and hard intervals might work best on some quickly digested carbs (think toast and jam). Your breakfast fueling should also be able to sustain you through the rest of your daily activities and what else you want to achieve in the day. If you have a run in the evening, for example, it might be better to skip high-fibre cereals or fresh fruit. Choose your breakfast depending on what your day looks like.
Write down a short time schedule for the day. Sometimes, a seemingly impossible combination of training and work/life duties can appear more manageable on paper. If you think that you’re facing too many time constraints and are starting to panic a little, consider shortening some of your training sessions but perhaps upping the intensity of them. This will help you feel less disappointed and make sure you’re still getting the same levels of training in. If you can’t complete those more ambitious sessions, make plans that are a little more realistic in terms of everything else going on in your life. There aren’t many things in life that bring more satisfaction than a list of ticked boxes.
Pack for the next day. Good training depends on good fueling, and you don’t want to waste time and money buying processed foods at the last minute before an important workout. Instead, try taking a few minutes each evening to pack healthy snacks (fruits, oats, nuts etc.) and leftovers for lunch. Try to make sure that for each of your training sessions you have a good recovery snack. This will ensure you don’t ruin any future training by running into glycogen depletion.
Don’t forget your clothes! It’s surprisingly easy to turn up to the swimming pool and discover you haven’t packed a crucial bit of kit. So as you don’t have to turn heel as soon as you reach the pool, pack everything you need for your session the night before, to avoid distractedly searching for your things the next morning.
Protect your sleep time. While we can’t always get as much sleep as we would like, we can have some influence over the quality of it. For a good night’s sleep, turn off all screens at least 30 minutes before going to bed, and invest in earplugs and eyes masks. A cool, tidy bedroom can have a massively positive impact on your quality of sleep. It’s also worth remembering that adults often can’t compensate for lack of sleep very well, so getting as much quality sleep as possible is the way forward.
Forget your training. Thinking about your training is likely to keep your brain too active and you could find yourself getting too concerned about your performance. It’s important to switch off from training when you’re going about your day otherwise you might find yourself obsessing. Thinking about training can impact your quality and quantity of sleep so switch off just before bedtime and try and unwind.
If you can find time to add in these steps to your day, then you’ll hopefully start to see some improvement in performance. Triathlon is all about controlling the controllable, and that starts with controlling your daily habits.
Written by Zone3 Ambassador Flora Colledge