Training for a long distance race requires a huge time commitment. And if you are training for a long distance triathlon, then multiply that by x3.

When I started training for a triathlon last year, I was getting frustrated trying to find the time to train. Having a full time job and trying to be around for my kids, wife and keeping up the house while trying to enjoy my hoppy was not easy. And I was only training for an olympic distance.

I was getting agitated when I couldn’t find the time to train. I tried to workout immediately after coming home from work but that usually added more stress, came home to an angry wife, and left me with no time to spend with my kids.

By the end of last season, I was able to find the perfect formula to my training.

Early morning workouts have been the key to my consistency this season. It allows me to get my workouts done early and leave the rest of the day to deal with real life issues and a second workout.

Waking up before everyone else is not that fun. But once you get used to it, you quickly realize what everyone else is missing. It is amazing how much you can get done during this time and how much energy it leaves you with. Also, there is nothing like going out for a run when everyone is a sleep and it is you, the road and nature.

These are few things that helped me adjust to this routine:

  1. Plan my workout before going to bed. Usually, I have my workout schedule done in advance so I know exactly what I need to get done throughout the week. I usually have my clothes and nutrition ready, bicycle on the trainer or prepared for an outdoor ride. Check tire pressure, shoes, helmet, etc the night before. The last thing you want to deal with is bicycle issues at 5am.
  2. Get your work stuff read too. Set the coffee maker, clothes, etc.
  3. Going to bed early. I realized I need 7-8 hours of sleep. I am usually in bed by 10-10:30pm. No more late night TV or movies, that’s what the DVR is for.
  4. Get the long session done first. If I have two workouts scheduled for the day, I like to get the long or hard session done first. Usually that’s the bike ride, run or brick. If I am swimming, usually I leave that to the evening.
  5. Take time to wake up. I don’t usually rush from my bed to the trainer or running shoes. I take my time to get ready.
  6. Start with 2 shots of espresso. Now I actually look forward to waking up early just so I can drink my espresso.
  7. Eat something. Peanut butter sandwich is usually on the menu. I don’t fill-up on food. I leave that for later.
  8. By 5:30 – 5:45 I am out the door.
  9. Take a break a morning or two and sleep in.

On weekdays, the longest session is usually not more than 2 hours. So I am in the shower by 7am or 7:30. Eat a big breakfast, grab my coffee and out to work.

Getting into this routine took me a while. It is not easy to be up that early. Your body need time to adjust. Once you are done with your workout, you don’t have to stress out the rest of the day thinking about how you can sneak in a 2 hour bike ride.

Also, I found it easier for me to do the hard session in the morning. Your body is already tired after a long day at work. Adding another 2+ hour bike ride, brick session or a long run later in the day can put a lot of stress on the body. Also if life throws me a curve ball then I can deal with it without missing my main session.

I like to leave swimming to the evening, usually after the kids are in bed usually after 8pm. Being in the water seem to have a relaxing effect on me, even with hard swim sessions. It also seems to help with my sleep. And in my gym, everyone like to swim early. This way I don’t have to share a lane with anyone. Actually, few times I was the only one in the pool.

With this schedule, even though I am putting 11+ hours per week training for my Ironman 70.3, I have a lot more energy, feel stronger, and have enough time between workouts to recover well and train hard.

“no one said life is going to be perfect; build a bridge and get over it”

Eagleman is just around the corner. I am already in my 6th week of my 20 week training program and logging over 10 hours of training every week and that doesn’t include strength training.

Training at this time of year in freezing Cleveland hasn’t been easy. Last week, I spent over 6 hours in my basement on the trainer. If you told me couple of years ago, that I will be spending this much time in my basement I would’ve called you crazy. Luckily, last week we were fortunate enough to have a 55ºF weather and was able to take advantage of it.

My Ironman cave where most of my training time is spent.

This is my first time training for this long distance. Having a family and a full time job make finding the time a little challenging. As much as I want to give it my 100%, you will find it to be unrealistic. So I have decided to set few rules around this hobby. I am as competitive as you will find and would love to do this full time, however, at this time I am not as fortunate as some  of the pro triathletes. So if your goal is whether to just finish, or win your age-group, I think we need to remind ourselves that this is only a hobby and don’t let it take over family and life.

These rules are:

  • Appreciate my wife for her support and giving me the opportunity to do this.
  • Training shouldn’t take time away from playing with my kids and kids activities.
  • Dinner with family is always, always a priority.
  • Be there as much as possible when kids go to bed.

To keep these rules, my day usually start around 4:45am. I usually do the main session at that time which is usually biking or running. At night, I go for a swim. This is probably the opposite of what most triathletes do but find it to work best for me. Swimming seems to relax me the most and I usually fall a sleep right after a good swim session. I also find it better for recovery to not do a run or bike session at the end of the day right before going to bed.

Also, if for any reason life gets in the way, I don’t feel as bad skipping a swim session as I would if I skipped a bike or a run.