It doesn't look pretty. Visualize adding in that I have to work for a living and well I can certainly see why people don't attempt this as much as one would think. There leaves little room for .... well .... anything.
Don't get me wrong. I love training. I love competing. I get ALOT out of all it.
But you can barely call me an amateur and I'm not willing to sacrifice my life for training.
I need balance.
Easy to say. Harder to do.
Here are 5 ways that I try to balance an intense training schedule with work, friends, family and life.
Number 1 - SCHEDULE SCHEDULE SCHEDULE
Sit down and schedule ALL your commitments over X-period of time leading up to your event - training, work, birthdays, social activities, rest, recovery. EVERYTHING.
It seems obvious, but do you really do it? My approach to-date has been to schedule a week at a time. To be honest it worked for my previous distances. Or so I thought. Visualizing - and I'm not talking about in your head - your entire training plan over the 12-8-4 weeks leading to your event changes your perspective on everything or it did for me. It also provides a lot of benefits which should not go unnoticed:
- It allows you to see gauge whether your expected inputs (i.e. training time) are worth your trying to achieve your goal or maybe if you need to adjust your goal and/or expectations.
- Your ability to be flexible and build a schedule around other life commitments becomes easier.
- It looks impressive. No seriously. People will get a better understanding about the task you're undertaking. This can be helpful when having discussions with people who are important in your life and will miss out on time with you.
Number 2 - Double Up
Double up exercise days. There is no doubt that you'll be able to avoid some days when you're training in two of the three disciplines or maybe even all three. However, by performing two-a-days maybe a little more often you might be able to free-up hours on other days to spend doing other things like spending time with your friends and family.
Using this in conjunction with Number 1, I was able to visualize a schedule that allowed me to add a couple two-a-days outside of where I'm "supposed to" and free up hours/evenings to spend with friends and family.
Number 3 - Employ HIT (High Intensity Training) Sessions
Not a new phenomena at all but something typically not associated with Endurance training. The reality is however that HIT sessions can have a positive impact on endurance athletes from a number of perspectives, not the least of which is increased performance. What does a hit HIT session look like and where can you use this to your advantage? Well, for example, let's say you've got a 1-2 hour run scheduled at a low-intensity, steady state pace, Zone 2 or 3 - but really you only have time for half of that.
Cut the workout in half by throwing in some high-intensity intervals that involve increased heart rates and effort over shorter periods, followed by slower recovery intervals. Something like a 10 minute warm-up easy pace, followed by an all out sprint for 1 minute and a 3-5 minute recovery jog at easy pace. Repeat 5 times or 10 times. (here is what it might look like visually on your bike - I used the bike because the graphs were more dramatic)