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Finding Time for the Trifecta: Triathlon Training GUEST POST

Posted Dec 21 2011 11:00am

A couple weeks ago Shelley and I started emailing back and forth about running, blogging, and triathlons. She knew I used to swim and asked why I hadn’t done any triathlons. I gave the usual reasons, you know, “too busy”, “work full time”, “marathon training”, “weak biker”, etc… you know, no real solid reasons just a lot of fluff. I asked if she’d be interested in guest posting over here, and low and behold she was Smile Naturally, she wrote a great post about how triathlons really are doable, no matter what your schedule is. Maybe I should look into it…

Hello Happy Healthy Runner readers! I was so glad when I found Rachael’s blog a few weeks ago via BlogHer , and am excited to be bringing you a guest post today. My name is Shelley and I am a new blogger over at Salmon and Sandwiches . This past week, Rachael made an appearance over at Salmon and Sandwiches talking about how to fit working out into your life . She did a great job, so you should definitely check it out if you haven’t already!

Today I am going to get a little more specific with you on not only how to fit working out into your busy schedule, but how to fit training for three separate sports at a time, as I am a triathlete . However, let’s be honest, it is never really just three sports as I also enjoy Yoga and Strength training. 5 different activities?! Sounds overwhelming! I have never really thought of it that way though, how do I make it work for me? Well let me tell you!

1.) Set achievable goals for yourself. How can you attain your goals if you never set them?! You can’t. Decide what your goals are, for the year, the next two years, five years, whatever works best for you. I like to set goals for each year at a time, these can change obviously, but it is always good to have a starting point (and motivator!). My goals usually include improvements I want to make in my racing, as well as a few main races for the upcoming season. Others might want to beat a specific PR, attain a top three finish, etc. It doesn’t matter what your goals are as long as they are achieveable! Having unrealistic expectations can come back to bite you in the butt in the end, so make sure you pick things that you can attain, but will still keep you motivated and challenged!

Here are my goals for the upcoming season:


2.) PLAN! For those who know me, this comes as no surprise, I am a planner. My planning comes in two forms: short term and long term. Long term is really the goal setting that I talked about in #1. However, with those goals I usually have a training plan on how to get there. These longer term training plans impact my short term planning.

Short term planning for me is one week at a time. Every Sunday I sit down, look at what I had planned for that week according to my long term training goals, and then modify based on other things I have going on that week (work commitments, social events, doctor’s appointments, volunteering, etc.). If I am not training for anything specific, I just start with a generalized idea of what I want to fit in and go from there. As an example, this is what I am planning for this week:


I am home for Christmas with minimal scheduling that could get in the way of my workouts so I am hoping to get in a little extra activity this week!

Then, I highlight each day as I complete my work out and make any modifications for the rest of the week. There is something about highlighting or “checking things off the list” that never fails to give me a sense of satisfaction. Especially when the highlighting is in rainbow order Smile


This is my activity log for the past week. Green=December.


As a disclaimer, I don’t think I have ever stuck to my weekly plan exactly. I used to struggle with this part of planning, and I would get upset if I didn’t do everything to a T. I soon realized that that added stress defeated the whole purpose! Working out and triathlon training are enjoyable and stress- relieving activities in my life! In life plans change, schedules move around, unexpected events come up, these things happen. I always find a way to get some type of activity in, so I don’t worry about sticking to the plan exactly.

3.) Get in your key workouts. Although sticking to an exact plan isn’t necessary, it is important to get a few key workouts in if it turns out to be just one of those weeks (we’ve all been there). I once read that the long run and long bike are the key workouts you want to get in each week. Shorter runs, bikes, or speed work is obviously very helpful, but in order to finish, the endurance from the long run and long bike are key, extra speed or a PR in the swim are just icing on the cake. I follow this rule, if I am in a pinch. As swimming is the sport you spend the shortest amount of time on in a triathlon, it won’t impact you as much. It is also the only time you use your arms primarily, so you can afford to get them a little more worn out at the beginning, however you legs still need to feel strong later!

See how attractive I am in this picture? You want to practice your long run so you can look as good as me finishing a race! (In my defense, this was actually one of my best runs, despite how I look in the picture)


It’s always about knowing what you need and prioritizing those key workouts if you are short on time. For example, I put less emphasis on Yoga during the summer when I have more races going on. I might go once every other week or so, but in the off season I make a point to go every week. In the summer, I prefer to do take advantage of the outdoor activities, and the longer bike or run will benefit me more in a race than yoga (not that yoga isn’t great!). If I have to choose between a strength and core session or a run, the run will usually win, especially in the summer, but maybe in the off season I just really want that strength session and I will do it. It’s all about timing and priorities.

4.) Be efficient. Make your workouts count! If you show up and work hard, you will feel good and perform well. There is no need to run for 2 hours, when you could get the same benefits running harder for a shorter period of time. Now, I am no training expert, so it is always good to consult a professional coach or trainer, but don’t stress yourself out with unneeded workouts or unnecessary lengths of time. When I was training for a half marathon and a sprint triathlon, I did 3 runs a week even though my plan called for four. I knew I could do it with three solid runs a week, leaving me time for biking and swimming. I made those runs quality (as well as my cross training swimming and biking) and they got me to the finish line of both races with flying colors!

Me flying to the finish line in my half marathon:


5.) Mix and Match. With triathlon training, in order to fit it all in, sometimes I like to mix and match my days. This keeps things interesting, efficient (not to be too repetitive here!) and fun! I usually do my workouts back to back as I like to do them in the morning and have my evening free, but occasionally I split it up and do an workout after work as well if it is one of the two sport training days.


6.) Have fun! I would never be able to do all these sports if I didn’t think it was fun! Actually, that is one reason I love to train in three different sports (or five depending on how you want to count it!) is that it keeps me on my toes and never gets old or boring! I enjoy changing things up and having new and different challenges. Finding ways to make each individual workout fun helps the time fly and will keep you coming back for more, I like to do this through group training (spinning class is a favorite of mine, or local running groups), and speed work.

Me and my Mom after a long and FUN bike ride:


Thanks for reading, and Rachael, thank YOU for letting me guest post! I hope you found these tips helpful, and if you have any questions about triathlon training or just working out in general, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at . Happy Holidays!

Seriously, how cute is she?! You should most definitely hop on over to her blog and read it!

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