Updated: Apr 21, 2022
A friend asked how I schedule training into my life, specifically, how do I schedule iron-distance training into my daily routine.
I’m a structured person, so I really like it all laid out on a calendar. It’s easy now that we have online calendars. I use Google calendar to organize my life. I used to be old school and use a paper calendar (I just threw out years 2011-2017 when I moved to Florida). Both online and analog calendars work just as well.
Like many athletes, I’m a busy person. I have a few jobs - triathlon coaching, personal training, teaching swimming, and working for a web design company. I've found that I’m happier when I’m busier and that I’m happiest if my calendar is an accurate reflection of how my days should go. Like any plan, it doesn’t always survive first contact. Things go awry! However, if I have a plan to start with, I find that it’s easier to rearrange my day and not get flustered or overwhelmed or…..miss training!
Find a calendar that will work for you. An online calendar is great because you can download the app to your phone, set up alerts and make changes anytime. A paper calendar is great, too, but then you need a pencil and the calendar if you’re making changes. Try to find one that you can write the hours of the day in - it sounds silly, but you may have training days that start earlier than the hours on the calendar. The earliest calendar I’ve ever found started days at 6:00 a.m..
If you have a coach, ask if they can publish your weekly training calendar by the Sunday morning before the new week. If you’re doing a longer distance race (like iron-distance), you can also ask your coach to give you a basic overview of your training plan. For example, if you’re doing a 24-week build, you can ask what the major training weeks are and a ballpark hourly volume expected. Keep in mind that things change as your training progresses, but a basic overview is certainly doable. If you’re self-coaching, you’ll be able to make these determinations yourself, either up front with your plan or as you go along in training.
Here’s how to make this work for you. Items that need to go in your calendar include:
Your working day schedule
Your work breaks
Appointments (examples: doctor, massage, kid’s appointments)
Wake up time
The first week isn’t going to be perfect. Heck, it may never be perfect and there will be some weeks where things go completely sideways - a hurricane hits, the pools close, your bike goes to the shop - it could be any number of things. But you learn a lot as you go along.
You learn that you can get a 45-minute run during your lunch break, you learn what times of the day you prefer to train and what hours of the day you really have available to train. And you learn how to back plan!
One back planning scenario for an iron-distance race had me doing a 3-hour bike/30-minute run session at 3:00 a.m. You read that correctly! Not only was that the time of day that worked in my schedule, but that’s the time that I preferred to get that particular training session done.
Over the years, I’ve discovered that the more proactive athletes are about scheduling, the more likely they are to stick to their training schedules because they’ve cleared everything else out of the way. Good luck creating your calendar and happy training!
Maria Netherland is a Northwest Florida-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Endurance and Youth & Juniors Certified Coach as well as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist. Coach Maria loves working for athletes of all abilities, military athletes, and new triathletes as they pursue their goals. Maria is a veteran of the US Army and a United States Military Academy at West Point graduate. She can be reached at email@example.com.