Practice good time management in triathlon training
Getting the most out of your time will hinge greatly on your ability to smartly expend the limited amount of energy that you have. And there is a limit. Most of us don’t think of our own energy (bodily, mental, spiritual) as limited, but if you’ve ever felt as completely exhausted after you’ve argued with your spouse as after you’ve completed a 100-mile bike ride, you know that your limited supply of energy can be depleted in many different ways.
Good time management in triathlon training has as much to do with making wise choices about your energy as it does with your weekly planning grids or your six-month training calendar. Here are some tips for making sure you maximize your energy.
- Plan easy days around long or intensive workouts. Certain workouts will obviously take more out of you than others. If you’re training for the half-Ironman or Ironman distance, you can count on some long-distance running and cycling that will put a serious crimp in your energy level in the days after your long workouts. Even short interval workouts and other high-energy expenditure training can leave you dragging for a day or two. When doing your weekly planning, schedule an easy workout or day off before your longest distance or your speed work training. Do the same for the day or days afterward, depending on the energy you’ve expended. Back-to-back killer workouts will only result in burnout and injury.
- Watch out for post-killer-workout syndrome. Have you ever felt unusually cranky, fatigued, or short-tempered the day after a 20-mile run or 100-mile bike ride? Of course, your body has been taxed to its limits, and the physical wear and tear are evident. But what you may not be aware of is how the temporary hormonal imbalances and other physiological effects of long-distance or intense exercise can affect your mood, demeanor, and general disposition. I have experienced it many times and have often scratched my head about my behavior and my uncharacteristically sour mood on a Monday, which was usually the off day after my weekend long-distance work on the roadways and running trails. Gradually I came to realize that my mental state was a result of some tough weekend training, and eventually dubbed this phenomenon “post-killer-workout syndrome.” Friends and loved ones know to look out for my inner crab and are usually forgiving of my ill-tempered frame of mind. If your experience is similar, try to plan for post-killer-workout syndrome by not filling your calendar with demanding social events or other activities that may light your short fuse during the day or two following a series of hard training. Delay any demanding obligations or stressful events until your body is more balanced and your mood a little kinder.
- Plan your workouts at high-energy times. Sometimes you simply have to train at a given time. Work or family obligations demand you stick to the only time slot left in your day, be it in the morning, during lunchtime, after work, or in the wee hours of night. If possible, however, plan your workouts for the time of day when you know your energy level will be high. Doing so will promote consistent performance, good effort, and solid technique.
- Plan your workouts to increase energy. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to take the opposite approach to the previous tip. If an early run or lunchtime swim during your day’s lull will energize you to meet the demands of work or family, then that’s what works best for you. Self-discipline is critical, however. You need to work out exactly when you probably don’t want to. Chances are that once you get out the door or into the swimming pool your energy level will increase. However, be sure to pay attention to maintaining good technique (especially in the pool) if you start out sluggishly.
- Recognize when not to train. As we’ll discuss in the next chapter, rest is just as important a component of your training schedule as your workouts. In terms of managing your energy, you must also realize there are many different circumstances in which training is not a good idea. Sickness, injury, extreme stress, family crisis, important obligations, and a long list of other reasons unique to your life and circumstances are all grounds for skipping workouts. Recognizing these valid reasons, accepting them, and moving on to the next doable workout are all fundamental steps you need to take in order to keep your energy level consistent throughout your entire training season.
This is an excerpt from Triathlon Workout Planner.