How to Balance Training and the Family Holiday

When the holiday season comes around, it’s easy to fall into the lull of relaxation mode. A lot of triathletes will find themselves planning holidays around tri season and often fit their holiday plans around races. For a sports-orientated family, this isn’t much of a problem. For a family that might not share an equal interest in the sport of tri, it can be a little more difficult. The good news is that no matter what level of dedication you or your family are at, there is room to ensure that you get your training fix whilst on your family holiday.

Things to consider when planning holiday training

The number one question to ask yourself when planning a family holiday is whether or not it falls in the off-season or peak season. This, simply, will determine the intensity of your training and what equipment you will need to bring with you. If your holiday falls in the off-season, you won’t need to bring a bicycle and you’ll be able to relax your schedule a bit. If your holiday occurs during the peak season, then you might want to bring along your bike and make sure you maintain a more steady, consistent schedule.

Is the holiday intended for quality family time?

Are you going away on holiday with the intent of spending some quality time with family members or is the holiday disguised as a ‘race-training’ holiday? Was the holiday booked because you’re doing an event in the same location? This can determine how much time you spend training. If you’re on holiday purely for family time – don’t try and train as much. Although you might think it necessary to train, your family might not. If you’re participating in an event during the holiday, you’re free to train as and when you want. A few other questions to consider are:

  • What time of year will you be planning this holiday and where?
  • Will it be hot or cold when you reach the destination?
  • What sort of facilities will be available for training purposes?
  • Will there be access to a swimming pool and/or gym? Are the roads safe for outdoor cycling or is indoor cycling the preferred option?

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Everything in moderation

If your family expect that you dedicate some time to them during the holiday (which, of course, it totally fair and sometimes crucial) then you need to work on a program that does not keep you away from them for hours on end. Perhaps, plan an early training session before they wake up, or a short-sharp speed session just before dinner. This will free up the entire day for family fun duties.

If it’s the off-season

There is no need to cram bike miles – leave the bike at home and set out a program that will only include running and possibly swimming. If swimming becomes a problem (finding a suitable venue, perhaps) then stick to gym-based exercises. This will keep the upper body fit, so may also be an option to consider.

Choose a destination that the whole family is happy with

Rather than geared around ideal training routes and facilities, choose a destination that is geared towards the family and fun entertainment. If the family is happy, you can always work a program around them. This will ensure that you get your daily training ‘fix’ while keeping everyone happy.

In-season holidays

In-season holidays are a little more difficult, but they can still be enjoyed with much success. Some advanced training block sessions with the swim/bike and run before you go gives you a little bit of leverage going into a planned holiday. This will then allow you some ‘rest’ days so you can recover properly from all the hard pre-holiday training sessions by soaking up the sun and free time with the rest of the family.

Try something new in the way of choosing your next holiday

Just like mixing up your training routines and plan to freshen yourself up both mentally and physically, a holiday that is different to the norm will do wonders for your state of mind, and that of your family members too. If all of you are happy and content, then training time does not become an issue at all.

Forget the FOMO

The minute you leave for your holiday destination, leave the FOMO at the door. It can be hard at times; FOMO is a modern-day disease, but if you are mentally strong enough and value healthy family life above your own gains, this can easily be accomplished. You are not missing out on anything. In fact, you’re gaining.

Maximum return

Work out a program that will give you the maximum return with the least amount of time spent on it; short and sharp springs to mind. Unless you have planned this holiday as a sort of mini training camp, don’t go and do endless miles that take up precious time. Fast and explosive sessions can be wrapped up in less than 60 minutes per session, freeing up a lot of time for family activities and fun.

Sight-seeing and walk tours

These can almost be seen as a ‘training’ session on its own. Stories of how some families have walked around 20km per day trekking through cities just having fun are plentiful. Add a daily 20km brisk walk into the training equation and you won’t feel so lazy anymore. Grabbing some food and ice cream along the way is one of life’s little pleasures that you can actually enjoy whilst on holiday.

Allow for a little weight gain whilst on the holiday excursion

You can be stricter when you get back home, but indulging in a little of the local cuisine can be seen as a healthy option for a change. Everything in moderation can never be seen as a bad thing.

If you only have a spouse and no kids

Perhaps surprise them with a weekend getaway, where there is no formal training planned. If they are not really that into sports, they will certainly appreciate this gesture and it will earn you massive brownie points later on in the season when you really need to knuckle down and do some of the hard yards.

If you have kids

Look to enjoy some of the activities they enjoy alongside them. A water park, for example, is loads of fun. By the time you have run up all the stairs, caught all the slides and tubes with them, you might actually get more of a workout than you could have ever imagined.

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Planning a training routine that will work for everyone

Early mornings are the best. A quick 60-minute run/swim and/or even bike with some speed set intervals built into this mix will sort your training solutions for the rest of the day.

Open water swimming opportunities are at large. You may find yourself in settings that are ideal for open water swimming. Activities such as snorkelling can sort out the swim requirements for the day. You hold your breath for a few seconds each time and kick hard with a pair of fins to dive beneath the water, and you will have the swim workout of your life just there and then.

Running opportunities are also widely available. A short and sandy beach run with bare feet, or even a train hike-run during a family outing can also be done with great effectiveness.

A lot of the resorts have holiday fun fitness programs on offer. So, get the family to join in for a few of those and write it down to ‘cross’ and/or ‘active rest’ training sessions. Utilise the gym facility if there is one at the destination. You can easily do a simulated indoor triathlon training session within 60 minutes; 20 minutes S&C for the upper body, 20 minutes on the gym bikes, 20 minutes on the treadmills.

Another plus is that depending on where you find yourself, there may be a weekly club run or swim up for grabs. A day of leisure spent with the family, followed by a club TT later on in the afternoon just before dinner can give you a little extra incentive to enjoy the rest during the day, only to give it a good 100% hard effort later on.

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Last-minute planning tips for a training-holiday

  • Do some research on the area before you book the trip – some destinations offer the best of both worlds. Ease of using training facilities and plenty to do for the family as well.
  • Some destinations offer bike rentals – this might cut down your travel costs and the bugbear of lugging a bike case along with the family
  • Load your training volumes in advance – so you need to rest and recover while on holiday
  • opt to enter races that fall out your preferred race season and personal holiday periods. This way, you are not under pressure to get the miles done.

Triathletes all love to train and race and it can be very addictive. However, you need to understand that most times, when you have a family to look after and consider, it can’t always just be about you. A healthy family environment is crucial to your overall long-term happiness and that of the family members. When you are happy, you train and perform better. When they are happy, you definitely have the best of both worlds.