Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fitting in Triathlon Training and Life - 6 tips to do more with your time

Day 127 Bike 184 minutes - 92 km, Run 47 minutes - 10km

Total on Week 700 minutes

If work, church and family responsibilities are not enough to schedule around lets throw in -20 Deg C weather. Good thing I have absolutely zero qualms about an indoor trainer or treadmill workout. I started off the day with a 3hr plus ride on even terrain. It was intended to be a fairly relaxed steady state ride at an easy 145-155 watts and I took advantage of the easy ride to do some web surfing and reading since I was on my computrainer setup that keeps the laptop close.

I must say that taking the time to get the right set up sure has helped me be able to keep up with everything.

Lots of people have asked how I manage to get as much done as I do. Besides an awesome support system (see old blog post about Ironmates) I have invested in a few simple things to allow that sort of multitasking.

1) My computrainer set-up has to be near the top of the list. Not only does it have all the pluses of an indoor trainer such as access to immediately get on the bike and start a workout, close access to a bathroom (less than 20 feet from workout room to washroom), a kitchen for all my fuel needs and a very controllable environment - no need to worry when sunset is, or wind and weather but my particular set-up has a bench custom arranged by my wife (yes guys - my wife is the tool handy person in our marriage) complete with DVD, MP3 external speakers, TV, Computer rack, fan, extra shelves for food, towel rack and hands-free telephone. What this has allowed me to do is be able to:

a) deal with all my personal, church service and late at-night work calls while riding the bike. However, I do recommend that if you are taking or making calls to try and do it during the warm-up and cool-down part of rides, or at least during the rest phase of an interval. Some people may mistake the heavy breathing for a variety of less pleasant or appropriate reasons.

b) not worry about forgetting something before you start riding. If any of you are like me you often spend a LOT of time trying to pick the right clothes for the temperature, make sure you remember your food, gear stuff and pack the extra tubes and tires. I find this easily reduces my pre-ride prep by about 15 minutes by riding indoors.

c) Having my computer setup with a wireless mouse, and at times keyboard has allowed me to take care of those pesky emails and catch up on my online reading. I have read most of the blogs that I follow from the laptop while riding the bike. This way I can follow the latest trends without sacrificing my workout time. It's a little harder to write emails and to author my blog so I have to leave that to the easy parts of the workout.

2) Double purpose activities

a) Outside of the computrainer at home you can also reduce the strain of getting in your workout schedules by commuting to and from work, weather and shower availability dependent. I found that since the weather turned it has become a lot harder to get in as much volume. I used to average nearly 3 hours a week in commuting workouts by run or by bike. Since it takes me about 60 minutes round trip by car to and from work each day my net gain in workout time was substantial with limited impact to my overall commuting hours.

b) Family Times - I have also found I need to make the most of family times that may not be easy for everyone to do. Fortunately at our house we mostly share common activities that we can double up on, whether its a run with my wife and one daughter, a swim with another, or offering to drive another daughter to a morning class on my way to work. Any time I can double up an activity helps. This is one area where I enjoy the drives with a kid to know what is going on in their life.

3) Plan and schedule around certain locked in events.

a) Each week I know I have some recurring activities that if I plan around I can gain some time for training. For example, days that I am not commuting as a workout I know that traveling via car at rush hour costs me way more time than doing it at off hours. So instead of traveling at peak times and spending 90-120 minutes a day I re-structured my day around it. For me I have the luxury of the SAIT fitness facilities and can do that workout before work and after work when traffic is heavy by going in earlier or coming home later and avoiding the rush.

b) The second aspect is that each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday I pick up my daughter from track and field practice later on in the evening. Instead of driving home and then back across the city I am now doing my workouts between the time I finish work and when I need to pick her up. This means that picking her up at 8:00 on Mon and Thursday I can schedule in longer workouts after work and on Tuesdays at 7:00 schedule in a shorter one. In order to make this fly I need to make sure I am taking enough food to eat lunch and dinner so that I am not working out on calories fumes but am well fueled.

c) Showers - this one may seem silly but as a multi sport athlete doing 2-3 workouts a day I really try to double up workouts in a way I don't need to shower between if at all possible. It doesn't always work out but if you did 3 workouts in a day and need to shower all three times that can suck an extra 30 minutes out of your day, and if you do need to shower that often making sure you have a wash and wear hairstyle is critical.

4) Smile - a LOT. Recently I have come to appreciate how much more effective we are when we are happy. Choose to be happy and you spend a lot less time pining over whats not working and just get about doing what needs to be done. I cannot believe how much more efficient I have been as a result.

5) Don't idle time on things of low value. I absolutely love computer games but also wasted way too much time on them in the past. Maybe for you its television, eBay, Blogging - you can read mine though :). In any case I have found reducing time in these areas or doing them while on an easy treadmill run or ride is far more useful than idle time usage.

6) Don't get addicted to the MP3 or iPod. I love my music on workout time but I also really appreciate the ability to use that time for a quiet inner reflection. It's pretty hard for me to do when in the middle of a gut-wrenching interval set but on the easy workouts swim, bike or run, or even a drive in traffic I like to think and or plan about a particular problem, situation or opportunity. I go even as far as to decide before the workout what problem will be solved by the end of the workout. Some of my best business thoughts, or parenting ah-ha moments came from those opportunities. I have even planned a public presentations or talk during a long easy run.

So I put a bit of this to the test on this last Saturday. Long ride in the morning as I read the Lava Triathlon magazine - great edition by the way, watched my second youngest at a swim meet - Go Sierra with 3 best times, a run on the treadmill with Frances - I ran the first 10km of IMSG, she ran a flat 10km in 50 minutes and went shopping with my wife at night to get me a new winter coat.


Keith said...

Great tips! I don't have much luck doing other stuff while on the bike, and wouldn't dream of trying anything additional to staying on the treadmill. Maybe it's just lack of practice.

My big time saving tip is to pack the workout bag, and lunch for the next day before going to bed.

Probably the single biggest timesaving thing in my life was learning to type faster.

Blaznfast said...

I agree about typing faster as well as pre-packing

Shannon Wicks said...

Great tips!

I, like you, enjoy my video games and when training for a goal race I have to say good-bye to them for a period of time.