Triathlon training is demanding. Especially Ironman training. I have had many days where I run around all day getting the laundry done, grocery shopping, meal prepping, cleaning the house, answering emails, taking the kids to their doctor appointments, ect and before I know it, it is already 8pm and the day is gone. But wait, I was supposed to fit a 3 hour bike in there with a 45 minute run to follow. Yikes! I remember the first time I did not plan my day well and I was getting on my trainer at 10 pm at night. I’d like to tell you it was a one time event but it wasn’t. I HAVE however gotten a bit better at prioritizing my time so it only happens about once every few weeks. Sometimes life just happens, plans fall through, child care cancels, someone gets sick, and there is just nothing that could be done to avoid the hiccup. I’ve put together a few tips I’ve learned throughout my training while being a busy wife and mom to two kids under 4 and I’d love to pass them on to you. I hope you find some comfort and maybe a few ideas.
This one is obvious but has to be stated. Look at your workouts for the week and plan for those chunks of time. Is that hour run something you can do before you go to work? How about that 3 hour bike on Saturday, but wait you have a huge family event to go to….looks like its a 4am day for you! I know many triathletes that start their days at 3:30 and 4 am so they can have their family time uninterrupted or without the stress of a long workout hanging over their head every day. Schedule this time, I even put it in my calendar on my phone. It is an important meeting with yourself to get you to your goals, hold yourself accountable.
We are all given the same 24 hours in a day. We are all busy and that time will be filled with something if it is not triathlon training. I remember when I went from cheering in college to not, between practices and games it took up about 15 hours a week and I thought “man I am going to be so bored and have SO much free time now that I just have school”….wrong! I filled my time and felt busier than ever but I cannot even tell you what I filled my time with. My husband and I don’t have TV and are on the verge of canceling our hulu account because we are weeks behind on the two shows we regularly watch. It is simply not a priority anymore. Do you have things in your week that is demanding a lot of your time, are you able to cut some of them out? Take a hard look at your activities and see if you can change your priorities a bit to align with your goals. Triathlon takes great sacrifice.
This one can be daunting if you have never done it but it will save you so much time, I promise! Make as much food in bulk as you can. I never cook less than 8 chicken breasts at a time. Sauté up a couple pounds of ground turkey and have it plain in the fridge. Chop up your lettuce and veggies so they are quick to throw a salad together. Make ahead a huge pot of brown rice and have it ready to go anytime you need a quick side. Sweet potatoes are an easy side to throw in the oven too. I usually cook 6, cut them in half after they are done, throw some chicken on top and bam, I have lunches for the week. The amount of time you will save cooking each and every meal, plus taking the stress away of “whats for lunch or whats for dinner” will be so worth a little extra work, promise! The crock pot can be your best friend, I have several crock pot chicken recipes but this one is my favorite right now thanks to Trainer Lindsey at IdealFit.com
Hawaiian Crockpot Chicken
1c pineapple juice
1/3c reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2c low sugar ketchup
1T rice vinegar
1/4c baking stevia
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4t dried ginger
2lbs chicken breast
1 (16oz) can crushed pineapple
Combine all ingredients besides chicken, crushed pineapple and coconut in crock pot. Add chicken and top with pineapple. Let cook on low 6-8 hours or until done. Either pull chicken with two forks or keep as bigger pieces. Pair with rice and veggies and top with coconut!
STOCK THE PANTRY:
This one goes with the meal prepping but it deserves its own heading. As a mom I am ALWAYS hearing “I’m hungry, what can I eat, I need a snack” I swear I could spend 3 hours a day just getting food for everyone. I stock my pantry and fridge with quick, easy grab and go type foods. Light & fit greek yogurts, string cheese, lunch meat, carrots, apples, rice cakes, trail mix and jerky are a few examples of staples I always have on hand. They take seconds for me to get for my kids or grab for myself if I’m running out the door or don’t have time to make a meal (although with all my prepped food from the bullet above this shouldn’t be an issue, right?!)
We’ve all heard Coach Diego say “doing something is better than skipping your workout all together”. Three 30 minute runs during the week is much better than one 90 minute run on Saturday because that is when “you finally have time to fit in your workouts”. Your body needs consistency to build that endurance and believe it or not, you can get a killer workout in just 20-30 minutes with high intensity.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR COACH:
This one is so important!! Life happens, plans change and you are realizing fitting the training in is way harder than you thought. Get your coach on the phone and make a plan. Is work demanding and you are exhausted when you come home, or maybe school is taking up a ton of time because of finals, or your kids sports schedule has increased and you’re stuck in car pool all night. Whatever is going on, its ok. Talk with Coach and together you two will come up with a plan that will maximize your training results with the limited time you have to dedicate. You will feel so much better about yourself because you will no longer be missing workouts and your performance will improve because you are staying consistent!
ASK FOR HELP:
Triathlon training is a huge sacrifice. Especially when the training hours become long, it is impossible to do it all. Ask for help, communicate with your friends and family. Ask your spouse if they can take over car pool or try ordering your groceries online. A lot of stores have a grocery delivery service which is free if your order over a certain amount or you can drive to the store and they load up your grocery order right in your car! This will save you HOURS and not to mention money because you won’t be buying random things you don’t actually need. No one crosses the finish line of a triathlon without the help from their friends and family, thats why it is such a huge day for everyone involved. They want to see you succeed and they want to help so open up that communication and make a plan to help ease your load a bit so you can focus on your training. Come race day, take the extra 20 seconds to say hi to them during transition or the run. They have waited all day to catch a glimpse of their rockstar athlete, show them some love!
Triathlon training is such an incredible journey. Crossing that finish line isn’t about how you perform the day of your race. It is about the journey and the sacrifice you spent to get to that starting line. You will have spent hours training, missed family events, pushed your body to the limit so you could have the privilege to stand on that sandy beach and start your triathlon race. Make sure you are doing all you can to make your journey to the finish line a successful one. I can guarantee you, it will make your race so much more enjoyable. I hope you enjoyed reading some of my tips and found them helpful. Please leave a comment with any tips you have found throughout your training or any questions you may have, I’d love to chat!
By the time you read this, you’ll be around 6 days away from participating in another fun, 70.3 miles worth of swim/bike/run triathlon (Oceanside 70.3). This might be your first 70.3, or your tenth one, regardless, the nerves will start to build up, and everything that comes with it. Here is a simple guide to help you navigate the week (taper week) leading to your race:
Monday (week of the race): Relax, all of your hard work is now done. You can’t make up any workouts and everything you do should be focusing on fine tuning your body for the race. 1. You STILL need to workout this week. Do not take the whole week off. Your total workload should drop around 50%, and short periods of high intensity should be included in each of your workouts. i.e. (some fast 25s on your swimming, with extra rest), 20 sec strides (controlled fast efforts in your running, etc..). 2. Make sure you are properly hydrating yourself this week, eating, and getting enough sleep. You want to help your body fully recovery before your race on Saturday, but keep it in “race mode” by doing the shorter workouts combined with the high intensity components. 3. Go over ALL of your race gear, and make sure it is in working order (bike, wetsuit, goggles, etc…). 4. Download the athlete guide http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman-70.3/oceanside/race-info/athlete-guide.aspx#axzz4cATTkiF4 and go over it, towards the back of it, you have a really nice check list to remind you of what you might need during race day.
Tuesday: Continuing with your relaxed state of mind, work on your nutrition. At this point is OK to start eating a little bit more carbs and protein to help aide any last minute recovery (proteins), and to help keep your glycogen storage as full as possible (carbohydrates). Today is also a great day to focus on visualizing your race. If you have not visualized a race before, simply find a place you can relax and close your eyes (no electronics!) and picture the swim start, transitions, riding your bike, running, etc… This will help you stay focused come race day and it will help you stay calm during the week. Today should also include a workout. The workout should include a solid warm up, some speed work with rest in between, a nice cool down followed by stretching.
Wednesday: Hydration, nutrition, rest and sleep. Do not over-do it with your hydration, we are not camels! You can’t store liquids for race day! Pay attention to your body and the color of your urine (if it is a light yellow, straw color) you are good. If you are traveling (specially by plane), the cabin is kept at very low humidity level, so make sure you drink just a little bit more to help you with your hydration level. Long travel by car? Do some light stretching and or jogging for just a few minutes when you stop to put gas in the car, eat, and/or use the restroom. Remember, your brain knows you are racing on Saturday, you just need to keep your muscles activated this week with some “race speed” short sessions. Today should be the last “long workout” of the week. Even if you do a brick workout (like a swim/run), the duration of the workout should be around 60-75 minutes, combined.
Thursday: If you are traveling today, same rules apply (see Wednesday). If you are already at the race location, do not spend all day walking around at the expo. Do what you need to get done and leave. If you have not already figured out what to eat, or where to eat, this would be a great time to get that done. Remember to keep your hydration, nutrition and rest as a priority. Tonight should be your “carbo load” night… NOT the night before the race. A nice 30 min workout would be very beneficial to do today. Most of it should be warming up and cooling down, with some short hard efforts in between. At night, put the electronics away, get to bed early (even if you do not fall asleep), visualize the race, relax and smile. Yes, smile, in two days you are going to participate in 70.3 miles of racing. That is awesome, you should smile because that is a HUGE accomplishment.
Friday: Again, hydration, nutrition, rest and sleep. Try to get the bike checked in as early as you can. Make sure you attend the athlete briefing, and when you are in transition, picture yourself coming out of the water, running into transition, and running out with your bike. This process will help you a lot tomorrow during the race. You will not have access to swim at the ocean today, and your bike is racked, so go for a short quick run. Again, most of it will be just a warm up, some strides in between and a cool down. Eat throughout the day (but don’t pig out!), with your biggest meal being around lunch time, and a smaller meal at dinner. Put the electronics away and go to bed early. Are you going to be able to sleep? Probably not, or not that well. Will that matter come race day? Absolutely not. Just get to bed early and relax, tomorrow will be a great day for you.
RACE DAY: Eat breakfast early (about 2-3 hours before your predicted start time). Keep a water bottle with you, either with water or electrolytes, and sip on it once in a while as you are getting everything ready and traveling to transition. “Ignore what you are feeling”… race morning is an interesting time. You might feel amazing, you might not feel so good…regardless, this is not an indication of how the race will go, so don’t pay attention to it. Once you hit the water – ALL OF YOUR NERVOUSNES WILL GO AWAY. Stick to your plan. Get to transition EARLY, time flies by…check the bike again, load up all of the nutrition, and get your transition ready. Stick to your race plan, do not change anything at the last minute. Give yourself time to warm up, the best way to warm up for a swim is by swimming. You WILL be able to swim in the water before you start, take advantage of it. A nice 10 minute warm up will pay out big dividends during your swim leg. RELAX during the race, smile, thank the volunteers, and have a blast!!!
By Diego Olivieri
Head Coach/Owner of Triathlon Training Team. Diego has been involved in triathlons since 2001. He is a USAT, USMS and USA Swimming certified coach.
We have an incredible team of athletes at Triathlon Training Team. Each member has a story and a path that brought them to the here and now, we are so excited to share their stories with you so you can get to know our team that much more. We will be featuring athletes every month so be sure to check back often. Maybe you’ll find someone that shares your same fears, loves the same distance as you, has similar obstacles making it difficult to commit to training. Whatever it is you are looking for, we are confidant you will find it at Triathlon Training Team and look forward to joining you are on your journey!
Today we are honored to feature Triathlon Training Team member: Cindy
How did you start in triathlon?
A friend called asking to borrow a bike for a triathlon she was doing. She told me about the ladies-only Danskin sprint triathlon, a group of ladies from church was going to begin training for, and invited me to join the group. Who me…a cyclist? I wasn’t a runner, and definitely not a swimmer. Giving it a second thought, perhaps training for a triathlon might break through the two-year plateau I hit trying to lose weight. Curiosity got the best of me, could I really do a triathlon? I checked the distances, and knew the bike wouldn’t be a problem, heard others would probably be walking more than running, and confirmed the lake swim would be possible. I committed to training for the next eight weeks and we completed our first triathlon that year. I was hooked. Realizing the need to run more than walk to make a difference in the overall triathlon time I began earnestly training to run. Several of us have continued training together, signing up for triathlons, 5ks and bike rides as we saw events that were interesting. Mostly, the event had a great metal.
What do you enjoy most about the sport?
I enjoy the variety training three sports, the camaraderie and accountability of training with others.
Witnessing the moments of silence, when riding or running/walking in the middle of the big city. When we train in the outdoor pool at Belmont Shore and see the sunset when turning my head to breathe. Driving home after a swim to see the biggest moon ever on the horizon. Seeing the sunrise on early morning workouts. Wow! Moments in time that can never be repeated, and I saw them because I tri.
What is your favorite triathlon distance and why?
So far I’ve only done sprint distance. Post injury, the 5k run/walk is a trainable distance that fits into my life right now. Who knows what distance the future holds.
What are your goals for this season, what are you upcoming races?
Keep moving. Dial in nutrition when training. This year’s races are yet to be determined.
Do you have a bucket list race?
Not a particular race, just the ability to keep racing.
Describe the feeling of finishing your first triathlon?
Elation! Hearing “You are a triathlete” as I crossed the finish line.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to over come to participate in the sport?
Besides swimming in general. This past year I competed in triathlons with open water swims. I had done lake swims before but the addition of waves brought a whole new dynamic to the event. The first race with waves resulted in my first DNF. That was tough. My immediate reaction was to never do that again, but a few months later the waves were conquered completing my first open water triathlon. I wish I could say it was a “piece-of-cake,” but it will take time to be truly comfortable in that churning world.
The other obstacle has been being patient while recovering from an injuries.
What is your favorite memory/experience the sport has brought you during either training or racing?
The people. Encouraging others.
Is there anything else you would like me to ask that I didn’t? What would that questions and answer be?
Tri-Zone, in Los Alamitos offered free clinics leading up to the 2016 Race On the Base. That’s where I met Coach Diego and the Triathlon Training Team.
After Race on the Base, Tri-Zone offered clinics leading up to the Semper Tri with an open water swim. Since I never swam in the ocean or wore a wetsuit, joining the group was the perfect opportunity.
I joined the Triathlon Training Team, to be with a great group of athletes who are now friends, and ride in locations I wouldn’t ever ride on my own.
I was not athletic as a child, who knew, at 57, I would begin a sport with three disciplines. Training and competing is achieved only by the total and complete support of my wonderful husband. His encouragement allows me to challenge myself and press on.
Six years later, I’ve completed eight sprint triathlons, nine organized bike rides from 25 to 100 miles, and 23 organized 5k’s. Here’s to many more years of swimming, biking and running/waking!