There are a ton of triathlon training schedules. Some are good, some are bad, and some are nice to look at when you need to fall asleep quickly and don't have any sleeping pills nearby.
But regardless of which triathlon training schedule you use, there are 10 crucial time-saving elements you need to be looking for, if you don't want to waste time training when you could be kissing up to your boss, wasting time on YouTube, or teaching your kids how to make offensive sounds with their armpits.
So in no particular order of importance (except that the first one is about food, which I find myself thinking about a lot as a self-admitted food junkie), here are your 10 triathlon training schedule time savers:
10. Eat Lunch Fast. Taking 5 minutes to eat your lunch will leave, in most cases, 55 extra minutes in your triathlon training schedule. So what takes a long time to eat? Salads, casseroles, dinner leftovers - and pretty much anything that requires cutlery. Choose these instead: wraps, sandwiches, smoothies and shakes. And yes, I am that guy riding my bicycle down the road as I finish up a turkey-avocado wrap that I've wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed down my bike jersey.
9. Quality Over Quantity. Most triathletes, especially the Ironman ones, swim 140% too much, bike 200% too much and run 170% too much - mostly because there is too little hard fast training and too much long slow training. I personally use a ton of high intensity interval training workouts (HIIT), and that means I get to watch movies with my kids at night. So what's an example of HIIT? Rather than going on a 45 minute run, I'll do 10 treadmill 30-60 second sprints on the highest incline I can possibly manage, and then do my core workout between each sprint.
8. Indoor Training. It sounds a bit blah, but if you want to free up time in your triathlon training schedule, you can save many, many minutes by hopping on an indoor trainer or treadmill rather than getting dressed for weather conditions, going outside, and fighting stop signs, stop lights, traffic and Grandma's on rollerblades with their 8 grandchildren and 2 schnozzle dogs. You'll even find me sometimes skipping my swim to do an indoor workout like the one in this video: http://www.youtube.com/bengreenfieldfitness#p/a/u/1/n6kEbDzxISc
7. Commute. Ride your bike to work. Put your clothes in a backpack, and pack babywipes or Actionwipes to wipe yourself down. If you're like me, you can even go so far as to wash your hair in the sink. If this doesn't work for your triathlon training schedule you can also: A) run to the grocery store for small items (I run hard there, and then easy back while I'm carrying stuff like bananas); B) do errands on your bike (not recommended for anything that involves your hair looking nice); or C) ride or run to social events, like parties, and then drive home with your friends or family.
6. Eat Right. If you're eating calories that don't have high nutritional value, a good part of your triathlon training schedule is going to be spent simply A) trying not to get fat and/or B) fighting against the recovery and fitness reducing effect that "empty calories" have on your body. Anything process, refined or packaged should comprise only a very small part of your diet, and everything else should come from whole, raw, real food. And yes, the local coffeeshop bakery case falls into the latter category, even the cookies with the pink frosting that say "Fat-Free". I also recommend that just about everybody take the bare minimum supplementation protocol (for reasons I discuss here: http://s3.amazonaws.com/BenGreenfieldFitness/SupplementsInterviewWithBenGreenfie ) Vitamin D, Magnesium, Fish Oil and Greens.
5. Family Training Tools. As soon as my wife and I found out we were pregnant with twins (actually she was, I just helped, which was the fun part), we equipped our garage with a double bike trailer and a double jogger. The bike trailer always has two little bike helmets and a bunch of books and toys inside (you'd be surprised at how long a Batman action figure will keep a little boy entertained on a long bike ride). My wife uses the jogger to take the kids on little nature field-trips, or to soccer, swimming, and even the gym (speaking of the gym, try to join one that has free kid care, like the YMCA, so you and your spouse can exercise together). Some triathlon training schedule advice is to do "Invisible Training", which is done early in the morning or late at night when your training is "invisible" to your family, but I encourage you, at least once a week, to set a good example and make family a part of your training.
4. Communication. You, your spouse, your family, your friends, your co-workers and your boss should be aware of your triathlon training schedule when you have a 5 hour bike ride planned for the weekend, or you decide to disappear to the gym for an extra hour on Wednesday morning. We keep a big calendar by our front door where we write down workouts, family events, races, and sometimes the ever-present reminder for me to "mow the lawn already". If you and your spouse are geeks, you could certainly use something like Google calendar or the "Remember The Milk" phone app - but we go old-school paper calendar at the Greenfield house. I'm also very open to friends and co-workers when I can't hang out. Don't be embarrassed to wear your triathlon training schedule on your sleeve - most people will respect you for being committed to fitness.
3. Friday Night Fuddy-Duddy. Speaking of friends, I don't recommend you engage in heavy drinking or late night social activities on Friday night - primarily because Saturday is such valuable time for getting in your triathlon training scheduled workouts. Save the tom-foolery for Saturday nights or Sunday afternoons, when you've gotten your high quality training out of the way. My wife and I will often stay in on Friday night, grab a movie (the last good one was "Due Date", but I digress), have a date night, hit the sack by 10pm, and be fresh and ready to get started into workouts or training on Saturday.
2. Cross-Train. Lately, many of my social relationships are now formed from playing tennis with a group of guys. For me, that's my social outlet that keeps me from being an isolated triathlon geek who has lost the skill to communicate with the general population and mostly just stares off into space and utters phrases like "Oily Cassette Blurby Blah-Blah". You're not "wasting time" when you cross-train in your triathlon training schedule - instead, there is often a very good training effect upon your triathlon fitness. While the social sports of golf, softball and baseball may not be the best cardiovascular cross-training activities, look into group activities like soccer, basketball, tennis, or if you are an international reader, cricket (I know nothing about cricket, but I threw that in there to make this a globally relevant article and to appease any Eastern hemisphere readers).
1. Non-Triathlon Post-Race Festivities. If you've got a family, the last thing you want is your family to regret you taking them to the big race in your triathlon training schedule. By all means, do not arrive at your race 5-7 days before the race with your family for a "vacation", spend the entire vacation fretting about racing and tweaking your bicycle, and then fly home the night of the race or the morning after. Instead, go to the race later in the week, like 3 or 4 days early (you're not a professional athlete, for crying out loud, so why skip out on life just to acclimate?) and then stay 2-3 days after the race to engage in non-triathlon post-race festivities with your family, like theme parks, scenic attractions, wine tasting, or if you'll really up for an adventure, wine tasting at theme parks. I take no responsibility for injuries incurred during that last activity.
If you're trying to prepare for a triathlon without neglecting your friends, family or career, then these time-saving tips should be good additions to your triathlon training schedule. If you want more advice just like this, then you'll want to visit http://www.triathlondominator.com, where I've got more techniques for Half-Ironman and Ironman triathletes to get maximum results with minimum training time. See you there!