1. Time management.
Each of us chooses how to spend our time. Regardless of if you compete in triathlon or not, each of us has 24 hours every day to allocate to the things that are important to us. In theory how you spend your time should reflect your priorities. For me, outside of my job (which is not necessarily MY priority, but definitely a necessity), training is priority number 1.
For the last 5 years I've worked a full time job with 4 long shifts per week. So the days I worked were longer - 11 hour shifts. And I own a small business. So on my "off" days, I am spending anywhere from 6-12 hours per week at my small business, mostly behind the scenes taking care of bills, payroll, paperwork. As of January 1, I decided to go part time. Mostly because I was burned out at work. After 17 years in the field, I found I was lacking the compassion and emotional energy needed for me to be good at my job. By stepping back, I feel so much less stress and have started looking forward to coming to work again. I'm not sure if I will go back to full time at some point. Time will tell. But for now, I am enjoying a little extra time at Cadence (my small business) and a little more free time for recovery.
I miss out on a lot of the social things. Dinners, parties, etc, that take place after 7 pm. And because we choose to travel and race, there's not a lot of extra money for eating out, shopping, entertainment. I don't like the word "sacrifice" because it implies that I'm giving up something that I want and other than time with friends, I really don't care about all the other stuff I'm missing out on.
I also realized recently that people seem to think that I train WAY more than I actually do. For Ironman training, I averaged 12-15 hours per week. Maybe in peak week I would top out at 18. Maybe. And an easy week might be more like 6-8 hours. Granted, I was working 50 hours a week and really, there's no time for more than that... but even if there was, I'm not sure I would have been assigned more. We'll see when I go back to "just Ironman training." (Ha!!)
Having stepped back in my profession, and begun the bulk of Ultraman training I've been a little closer to the 20 hour per week mark. With Ultraman there HAS to be long bike rides and very long swims. I never rode 6 hour in one session before an Ironman. Well, at Ultraman there's a good chance I'm going to be on the bike between 10-12 hours on day 2, so I better prepare for that in training. And I have to swim 10k in the ocean. So instead of topping out at 5k for Ironman prep, I am doing a weekly long swim between 7-8k, and soon there'll be a weekly 10k swim.
I'm not going to pretend that I have some amazing formula for work/ life balance. But I will say that I am blessed beyond belief that my husband enjoys this sport as much as I do. So it never crosses our minds that we are spending "too much time training." We make it work because we want to. And I've found that when you WANT something, amazingly enough you're a lot more willing to make it happen.
|Couples who play together, stay together.|
Guys. I don't have kids. This may be the biggest factor in my being able to train and race triathlon. Truthfully, I am winning the no-kids lottery here. Kids are expensive. I am selfish. I would much rather spend my money on myself. Don't worry, that's not why I didn't have kids. It's a lot more complicated than that but the bottom line is, it's a choice. One that 100% of people have to make at some point in their lives. I'm just glad I realized it early enough in my life to take preventive measures.
I'm not rich by any stretch. In fact, we are well below the median income for Ironman participants. But my husband and I live in a house that we like. We ride bikes that we chose. We travel to races that we want to go to. We can afford good food- with a lot of organic options. We don't go out to dinner often. We don't really spend money on entertainment. We don't have car payments or credit card debt. We don't have student loans. We have an in-case-of-emergency savings account. We have a retirement account. And from what I've been told, I can't take it with me when I'm gone so I don't mind enjoying life a little while I'm here.
We started in the sport of triathlon 12 years ago. WOW. That seems like forever! For reals, that's almost 1/3 of my life. During the last 12 years we have formed patterns and habits that make training routine. It's part of our day just like eating and sleeping and going to work.
On a side note, there are certainly a lot of excuses. A lot of seemingly valid reasons why we shouldn't / couldn't get our training done. But because we WANT to do it, there are no excuses. My alarm sounds at some version of 4 am (sometimes 330, sometimes 445) but there is never a morning when I hit the snooze button. Or decide I'll do my workout "later" (because we all know later never happens). It's habit. It's routine. It's not always easy or pleasant to get up at 4 am, but having a routine makes it so much easier.
One of the differences with Ultraman training is that I'm doing a lot more split sessions. Meaning one workout in the morning, with a mandatory 4-6 hour break before a second afternoon session. I will admit that I am very much a morning person and as easy as it is for me to get out of bed at 4 am, it is sometimes equally difficult to get out the door for round two. Especially if it's something I don't particularly love, like a treadmill run. In the morning I don't give it a second thought. In the afternoon, I have to look beyond motivation to get it done.
|Nailing an afternoon session with a little help from my better half.|
Travel logistics present a nightmare for a lot of people. Over the last few years we've routinely done 3-4 Ironman events per year. That means traveling to places like Panama City Beach, Lake Placid, and Coeur D'Alene. We minimize our hotel costs as much as possible by doing research well in advance of when we need to make a reservation. We try to split costs with friends when the opportunity arises. And I married someone who is as Type A as I am, so I don't feel stressed about making all these arrangements. He is so much more on top of it than I am, sometimes. We have a good system. I take care of flight/ car rental and he works on hotel. There's a lot of communication in there but we never get two months out from race day and realize no one has made plans.
Also, along with logistics (and money!), there are a lot of "rewards" credit cards available now that will cover flights and other travel arrangements. We have two credit cards that we use for business so we accumulate points very quickly. In the last 4 years we've maybe had to pay for 2 flights which saves a TON of money. Obviously not everyone has a small business that has purchasing power, but we all have monthly spending that could be working for us.
Update on Ultraman
We are now 67 days from the start of Ultraman! I had my biggest training week to date last week with 224 miles on the bike, 39 miles running, and 22k in the pool. It always amazes me how the body absorbs and adapts to the work that is being consistently done. After my 50k I had a couple of weeks where my run legs were just a little blah. Ironically, it was after a couple of hard bike sessions that the run legs came around. My body was absorbing the work that had been done, it has adapted, and now we can take it to the next level. Baby steps.
I am feeling less terrified of surviving Ultraman and more confident that I will be able to achieve this dream. Later this week we're off to our annual Team HPB training camp. Last year I was pretty much dead last in every bike ride. I am hopeful that the work I've done so far this year will help me to be able to hang in a little bit longer. And I'm super excited to get onto Mt. Lemmon and see what I can do!
Also I want to share Part 1 of an interview that was done with Renee Hodges of Foundation Physical Therapy. We sat down in January to chat and she shared the first half of our conversation on Foundation's Facebook page. Nothing life shattering, just a little more about my background. I have always believed that if I can do this sport, and THRIVE in this sport, anyone can.
And if you are interested in taking YOUR training to a new level, I am coaching under Hillary Biscay on Team HPB!! I have been working with several athletes for the last 8 months or so, and as of January, I am officially part of the Team HPB coaching staff. Feel free to contact Hillary directly for information or comment on this post and I can get in touch with you directly. You don't have to be winning races, you just have to be committed to the process of getting the best out of yourself. We work around all kinds of work schedules, family commitments, etc. And as I mentioned above, don't let the name scare you away. Each athlete is individual and not everyone shares the same volume of training. I want to help my athletes in their journey of #findingaloha... whatever that looks like for them.