Maximising your training budget

Chrissie Wellington wrote a great blog post a few months ago called Juggling Balls all about how to fit training for a triathlon around your work and personal lives. We all know that we have to manage around the other priorities in our lives and as much as we’d like to train whenever we want few of us have that luxury, but hearing a former pro triathlete talk through the decisions she’d had to make really resonated with me (incidentally it’s rare to find someone who is both a top athlete and a good writer so do recommend you have a read of her blog).

Being mentally committed to your training is so important and reading her blog made me face up to the realities of my training and what realistic goals I should be setting myself for my half Ironman in August. When a challenge feels too big it’s easy to avoid facing up to the reality of the training you need to do and not set good goals.

Chinese philosophers came up with Yin and Yang to symbolise the 2 opposite forces in our lives but when it comes to training there are (quite aptly) 3 competing forces you have to balance; work, family and training. All 3 pull you in different directions and you need to find a way to balance them if you are to be successful and I generally find it’s hard to achieve what you want in one area without also achieving in the others.

Commonweal 5 mile finish with the kids

For me with 3 small children at home and a busy day job┬ábalancing the 3 competing forces can be tricky at times and training has to take the lowest priority. Plus recently we’ve been suffering on the sleep front so when I do get a chance to train I’m not always firing on all cylinders having had 4 hours sleep the night before.

All this combined was making me feel the pressure a little as the enormity of doing a half Ironman for my first ever triathlon started to sink in. Then came the light bulb moment, inspired by Chrissie Wellington I built myself a training plan that took into account the balls I needed to juggle. I figured out what my training budget was each week and how best to use it, making sure of course that my family were ok with what I was committing myself to do.

I’d love to be able to plan 20+ hours of training a week but that’s just not going to happen at the moment or possibly ever. I focused on fitting in 2 quality sessions of each sport every week with one being a speed or interval type session and the other being an endurance session. Throw in a strength and stretching day and you’ve got the makings of a good plan that is also achievable in the time I have available.

My normal training slot is at 6am, for my normal running event training this was perfect. I’d head out each morning with the hound and do 40-60 mins of running and get everything done that I needed. But with swimming and cycling also to fit in that doesn’t work every time. So I’ve put my long bike on a Sunday when I can normally find time to escape for a couple of hours and my long run on a Wednesday night (which can be a tough slot after a broken nights sleep and long day at work).

Turbo trainer in the garden

The final pieces of the puzzle are a lunch time swim while at work one day and then an evening turbo session. I’d of course prefer to be on the road for both rides each week but the turbo just makes it easier to fit in and actually is quite good for a hard interval session. Friday is a full rest day but otherwise I’m doing at least one session every day and getting into just over 10 hours of training a week.

So far it seems to be working and I’m hitting all the milestones with little moving around of sessions needed. I may have to think about how to fit in a few more brick sessions though, haven’t quite worked that one out yet. The only down side of all this is an awful lot of washing!

How do you balance the 3 forces of your life? Any top tips for maximising your training budget?

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