1. Be honest about your availability
Almost all of us love our training so much that we want to devote as much time as humanly possible to it. But one of the worst things you can do is overestimate the time you have available train during the week. If you’re working an 8-hour shift with a 1-hour commute and also have a family or social life, it’s not realistic to tell your coach that you can fit in 3 hours of training on a work day. While you might be able to make it happen for a week or two, you will not be able to handle it in the long run and consistency is what counts in endurance sports. Remember that you still have to prepare food, sleep, do laundry- you get the idea. My advice is to be conservative at first when budgeting time for training- then you and your coach can adjust if you find that you have more hours. If you find that you’re losing sleep, getting emotionally drained, are sore 24/7, or your relationships are suffering, it’s time to re-evaluate your schedule.
2. Wake up when your alarm goes off – no snoozing
This is a tough one for some people. The siren call of a warm bed in a dark room is hard to ignore, but research shows that hitting snooze reduces the quality of your sleep and makes it harder to wake up fresh and alert. When the alarm beeps/rings/buzzes, open your eyes, sit up, and put your feet on the floor. It’s time to get moving. If you want to take this a step further, try to wake up at the same time each day. This will allow your body to get accustomed to a schedule (our bodies and brains love consistency) and will help you feel ready to wake up, rather than groggy and wishing for 10 more minutes in bed.
3. Make a date with a training partner
Sometimes it’s easy to make excuses about why we can’t make it to the trail or the gym or the pool. If we don’t get our workout in as planned, who cares? Well, I’ll tell you who cares: your training buddy (and your coach)! People are more likely to show up to a workout, and will work out harder and longer, when they have a partner or a group to train with. Plan to meet up with someone who will support your training. Make sure you both understand beforehand that you might have different goals, and therefore might not stay together for the whole ride (for example). Having this piece of accountability in place could be just what you need to get your butt out the door on an early morning.
4. Schedule your workouts
This is pretty straightforward. When you have a meeting, you block off a portion of time on your calendar where you won’t be interrupted. You (and others, if applicable) understand that this time is already spoken for, and other needs will have to wait. Why wouldn’t you do the same for your training? It’s an important part of your life, and having sessions already scheduled in your calendar will alleviate decision fatigue.
5. Eliminate obstacles by preparing in advance
Speaking of decision fatigue, let’s acknowledge that most of us don’t want to be fumbling around deciding which shorts to wear at 4:30am, then deciding what to eat before your run, then deciding which route to take, then deciding what to eat for breakfast, then deciding what to wear for work… you see where this is going. Make the most of your precious time by preparing in advance as much as you can. Lay out all the workout gear you’ll need the night before. Program your intervals into your watch. Know where, when, and what you’ll be doing for your workout. Have all your fuel ready to go. If you’re going to be crunched for time after your workout, have your work clothes and food for the day ready, too. Just this preparation could save you a ton of time in the morning, and makes it that much more likely that you will have a great session.
Even us type-A triathletes are going to miss workouts. Besides occasional illness or, running gods forbid - injury, life will get in the way of our neatly planned training schedule. We can mitigate interference by planning in advance around travel, work and family commitments, appointments, etc.- but we aren’t fortune tellers. Things are going to come up. That’s when flexibility becomes a valuable skill. At Evolve, our coaches customize our athletes’ training specifically for their goals and lifestyle, so it’s not a progress-killer to have to adjust or eliminate a workout here and there.
Which leads me to my final point: don’t try to make up workouts. Just don’t. Unless you discuss with your coach a way to intelligently restructure the rest of your week, it’s counterproductive to try to cram in that long run you missed because your kid was in the ER. Look forward, not backward. If you missed a session, it’s in the past. Proceed as planned to keep your body and mind healthy.
Leave a comment below telling us your favorite strategy for fitting in workouts- is it something we listed here, or a different tactic that works like a charm?