Stay positive and maximise your busy schedule to create important marginal gains…

How to make time your friend in triathlon

Firstly, we know, it’s not your fault. Whether it’s a busy week at the office or you’ve got to ferry children around after school or perhaps a social plans you really don’t want to sacrifice, life does have a habit of getting in the way of those best laid training goals and well-meant intentions to get into shape for your next event.

Triathlon training takes a lot a dedication and it can be complicated to fit in the time for all three disciplines. We all know it can be downright demoralising when you can’t spare the time for a full session. But you don’t have to stagnate if things get hectic and your training plans go out the window.

Consider focusing on your diet instead. Take comfort from the fact you may have missed your early morning run, but you did choose a nutritious bowl of porridge over that delicious smelling fry-up safe in the knowledge your body is benefitting from your healthy choice. Or perhaps you could spend the odd 10 minutes gently stretching tight muscles, boosting recovery and maintaining your flexibility. This might not seem like much but sometimes doing a little something towards your tri goals is all you need to get you through to your next session.

Team Sky famously approach their racing with a ‘marginal gains’ attitude, the premise being that little gains here and there will have a larger collective positive impact at the end of the day adding up to the best possible results. This attitude is played out to extremes in the high-pressured world of pro-cycling, but applying the same logic to a busy daily schedule should also yield results for your triathlon aspirations.

The physical benefits tend to be more obvious, but perhaps the most positive outcome of squeezing in little bits of activity and smart choices on your busy days is psychological. Scientists have long suggested relatively small amounts of exercise each day are enough for us to reap the benefits of improved wellbeing, which in essence is what we get out of triathlon training and competition anyway.

So if you can squeeze in small amounts here and there, maximising the time you do have by making smart choices, this knowledge in turn will help you breed a positive mental attitude, keeping you motivated and feeling on top of your game.

Team talk: starting out

A few squats or lunges while you’re brushing your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil will soon add up. Your work mates might think you’ve gone a bit nuts mind you!

Make it work for you: three ways to gain on busy days

1. If you’ve had a tough training session the day before and are short on time try some active recovery. Spend your spare moments gently stretching any problem areas. You’ll feel energised and ready for your next session as a result.

2. Power your commute two or three times a week. Leave your car or travel card at home and ride your bike to work. Keep your gearing slightly higher than usual for an extra power workout. Just make sure you put the efforts in off the lights!

3. Give yourself a mental boost by making smart food choices. Eating healthily will prime you for your next session, while ensuring your recovery is as good as it can be. Plus you won’t be carrying around those extra pounds on race day.

WORDS: Ashley Quinlan

As well as ‘how to make time your friend’, we have lots of triathlon advice in our pro triathlon section…