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Coaches Blog

Endurance Sports Lessons From A Bathroom Renovation

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

Like many people, my husband has been spending a lot more time at home. So, we decided to tackle a project we’ve been discussing for a long time-- renovate the bathroom. I calculated my time between coaching, training for a spot in the 2020 (now 2021) Paralympic Games, and the renovation. I decided it was a doable task, especially with Sam doing the majority of the work.

I didn’t expect the process of renovating our bathroom to be a great source (and reminder) of valuable lessons I can apply to coaching and my own training.

1. Time Management - I learned early on in this process that if I push myself and do too much work at the beginning, I burn out fast.

In the same way, if I plan a 1-hour bike session for an athlete and they choose to push through a 2 ½ hour suffer session, the athlete risks burnout and injury. Or, if you start a long “steady effort” workout too hard, you won’t be able to maintain that pace through the entire session.

So what did we do to handle this risk of burnout in the bathroom remodel? We treated our work schedule just like I treat my training schedule. Every workout is meticulously done according to my instruction. When I’ve checked off all my training ‘boxes” for the day, I’m done.

We made a schedule of everything we need to accomplish in the bathroom remodel each day. When we completed everything on the list, we stopped working for the day.

2. Patience - One of my jobs in this bathroom renovation is to scrape the “gunk” off the floor so it can be smooth when the new tile is laid. Let me tell you, removing this residue was quite the practice in patience!

Doing this reminded me of the last few miles cycling in IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder. The miles were long and lonely, similar to taking apart the floor. Both were times that called me to dig deep and be patient. Both tasks required me to seek out and celebrate little victories.

Small milestones helped me get to the finish line in Boulder and motivated me to finish the tedious task of scraping the floor, one mile, and one square foot at a time. It’s important for athletes to learn patience and practice setting small goals. These disciplines will get you to the finish line, especially when the race gets long and you have to dig deep.

3. Functional Training Helps! - Functional strength is a key part of my cross-training and plays an important roll in my training and coaching philosophies. But one might wonder when you’re actually going to use a 1-minute wall sit in real life. Well, last week I discovered exactly how useful those squats, lunges, and wall sits could be.

While replacing the drywall behind the oven, my maintenance man/husband needed someone to stabilize the new sheet of drywall while he secured it in place. I was the only person available for the job, so my functional strength training came in handy!

Thanks to my training, I held that squat for over a minute while he attached the drywall. The moral of the story: you never know when functional strength will come in handy!

4. Know when to ask for Help - Both my husband and I know our limits very well, and they were reached when we had to put the gas line in for our dryer. Neither of us was able to put this in by ourselves. So, we called a licensed plumber who finished the job safely and easily.

Knowing when to ask for help is an essential life lesson. Obviously, this isn’t possible in a race (at least not in the traditional sense), but it’s essential to train for every occasion and to understand the purpose of every training session.

If you are having trouble understanding the “how” or “why” of a workout, ask a trusted, knowledgeable source - like your coach! If you miscalculated how much hydration you needed for a specific workout, ask!

Just like we asked for help from a licensed plumber, it is important for every athlete to be confident enough to ask for help when they need it. Pride can be a dangerous thing.

As I write this, we’re still in the process of renovating the bathroom. S,o I’m sure there are more lessons I can learn and be reminded of while I’m sitting on the floor scraping gunk.

What unconventional places have you found lessons about endurance sports? Or, maybe your lessons from endurance sports applied to everyday life?


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