How to train for a triathlon whilst juggling work, life and family

Written by BTS Admin

June 2, 2019

Gemma’s Top Triathlon Tips

“A Triathlon? How do you find the time to train for that?!!”

I get it! As a busy mum to two full-on boys ages 4 and 6, juggling a full-time job and triathlon with family life does not come easy.
But, If I don’t make the time (and my husband will confirm this!) I go crazy. People often underestimate the link between physical and mental health, but exercise has become a vital part of my day, to manage stress and anxiety. Therefore, squeezing in time-efficient workouts has become a necessity.

In need of extra tips, I canvassed my club mates for their time-saving tips and work out ideas. I hope you find them useful too!

1. Plan your time

  • Plot out your key races and work back to ensure you allocate sufficient time to train and taper.
  • Add in other commitments to work around e.g. work trips / family holidays etc. – my husband and I sit down every week and plan a week ahead so we know who’s covering the kids, training, dinner etc.
  • Periodisation is a well know part of long term training, deciding times when you can train hard and times when it you need to take things a bit easier. If you have a busy week then just relax on the training front, but look ahead and work out when you can then do a little more.
  • Build habits – training sessions fitted into your routine that you do every week less likely to be disrupted by life, the universe and all the forces that try to stop you training.
  • Be realistic with the time you can dedicate to training and allocate sessions accordingly. There’s no point in trying to follow a 12 hour-per-week plan when you only have 6 hours available.
  • Join a club – you may be able to work club sessions into your plan, saving time on planning what you’re going to do in each session, just turn up and get the job done!

2. Use Your Lunch Hour

  • HIIT sessions work well e.g. turbo or static bike. Warm-up -> 10 * 2 min flat out -> Cooldown
  • 30 min run with sprint/ hill intervals
  • If you’re near a pool a short sharp swim
  • Strength & Conditioning
  1. Get Your Kit Organised
  • Get all your kit and any food you need is laid out the night before or ready in the car for before/ after work.
  • Have your bike or better still a spare bike already on the turbo, tyres inflated, water in a bottle etc. ready to go!
  • Zwift etc. are great motivation, but be prepared for additional faffing/ distraction! (“turn TV on, plug in a laptop, sign in, mend it, stop emails/Facebook/twitter popping up, mend it again etc…. Forget that stuff, just ride the damn thing!”)

3. Kids? No problem

  • Use the school run to start/ complete your run/bike session (especially if you have older kids who can cycle with you).
  • Babies are portable! Buddy up with another mummy/ daddy and take turns (either a 30 min run or blast on the bike or turbo, leaving the other parent with both kids or tag team speed/ hill drills – one parent running a rep, the other doing squats etc. with the buggies).
  • Strength and conditioning sessions are easy to fit 10 mins at a time (kids make a great alternative to a kettlebell).
  • Now my boys are cycling, I manage to take them to the local park and run 400m intervals, chasing them down on their bikes (I need to give them less of a head start though as I never catch them!)

4. Ditch the junk

  • Think Quality, not Quantity – ditch the junk miles and focus on making every minute count.  Fit intervals/ tempo work into your longer sessions “A short session is better than no session at all”
  • Make every session count – have a focus for each swim/ bike/ run session rather than just plodding.
  • On the bike, use a bigger gear than normal, strength and fitness training, both at the same time.

5. Early bird Vs Night owl

Juggling family time means you may need to train early/ late especially if you’re training for longer, endurance events (70.3/ IM/ marathon etc).

  • Head torches are a must for dark mornings and evenings.
  • Lakes open from 6 am!
  • Rope a friend in so you can’t press snooze

6. Home vs Gym

  • Save time on getting to/ from the gym – invest in a turbo trainer/ treadmill.
  • Quick core/ strength and conditioning workouts for runners/ cyclists etc on YouTube

7. Train smart

  • Fit training into your commute. Run to the station/ join the train a few stops later or get off earlier and run the rest of the journey.
  • Cycle to work.
  • Split the long run. E.g. 2 x 45 min sessions are just as good as a 90 min run and more manageable.

If all else fails …..

Work from home/be a kept partner/win the lottery

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