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How to Train for a Half Iron Man While in Grad School

Posted Apr 27 2011 12:00am

Monday workout Rest day

Tuesday workout Bike 1.5 hours (stationary), swim 40 mins

Training for a half ironman triathlon while in graduate school can be incredibly difficult.  Graduate school programs tend to produce many sleepless nights spent writing papers, long hours spent sitting in class and at a desk, and copious amounts of stress.  However, with some simple planning and multitasking prowess, you can help make your endurance training and grad school work complement each other.  Here are some suggestions that have worked for me.*

1. Get Extra Sleep

It is very important to get a lot of sleep when doing a strenuous training program.  Sleep helps your body repair and build muscle tissues and prepare for future workouts.  Since you probably aren’t getting a lot of sleep at night, take some time during your class lectures to catch up on sleep.  Your teachers won’t mind (and you won’t even notice their angry glares if your eyes are closed).

2.  Cross Train

Cross training is a great supplement to any training schedule.  After you’ve caught up on your sleep in class, try getting in some cross training exercises.  If you’re like me and are incapable of sitting still in a chair for hours on end, try doing some leg exercises.  Alternate pointing your toes down and up, or alternate squeezing your hamstring/glute muscles.  Pay no attention to the awkward sideways glance from the occasional confused student.  They clearly don’t understand that being a triathlete takes 24-7 dedication.

3.  Multitask

The gym is a perfectly acceptable place to do homework.  Take your reading with you to the gym and take notes while on the stationary bike.  I do not, however, recommend trying to take notes while you run.  Treadmills are easier to fall off of than stationary bikes.  Also ignore the weird sideways glances from other gym-goers when you drop your pen and fling paper clips across the room on several occasions.  Don’t let their snickering fool you, they’re happy for the entertainment.

4.  Multitask Some More

Use your time in the pool to plan out your paper based on the reading you just did on the bike.  Don’t worry if you keep forgetting how many laps you’ve done.  Every time you forget you just start at one again.  This plan ensures you will have a challenging workout.

5. Carb Load

Sugar and chocolate help relieve stress, and help the brain neurons fire so you will be able to pour those words onto the page when writing your paper!  Load up on lots of carby junk food to help carb up for your training sessions and relieve stress at the same time.  Chocolate chip cookies the size of your head are a great source of carbs.  Don’t worry if you feel like crud on your next training session, I’m sure it’s the fact that you weren’t sleeping enough in class, not that your veins are full of butter and sugar.  Revisit step 1.

6. Manage Your Stress

Stress can have negative impacts on your sleeping and eating habits, training schedule, and all-around lifestyle.  When you’re feeling like you have so much stress in your life that you can no longer handle it, just lie down and take a nap (or write a blog post about it).  Denying the things that are stressing you always works.  That paper will get done eventually.

*Please note that while I have in fact done some of these, that does not mean that I actually recommend them.  They are meant to be humorous.  Please do not try these at home;)!

Back to paper writing!

Any tips on managing stress?  Real or humorous are acceptable:).

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