On Tuesday, Davey and I had an open water swim planned for our triathlon training. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the water temperature was perfect. It was a bit windy, so the water was choppy, but that only helped us hone in on our breathing skills and we got in some good practice for race day. Everything went according to plan and it was a picture perfect training day. (Except for the sunburn we both got. Note to self… use more sunscreen).
Thursday was a different story. We had a bike/run brick planned and I had just finished slathering on sunscreen when I heard a loud crack of thunder. All of a sudden it started POURING. An unexpected storm had ruined our triathlon training plans. (A storm?! Ain’t no body got time for that!) Now, we’ve done a triathlon in the rain before, but I’m not too crazy about training in the rain. So now what? We can’t just rearrange our whole day around our triathlon workouts.
Last week, when I was at work, Davey went out on a bike ride. He was 2 miles from home when he got a flat tire. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but on that particular day, I had asked him to take a picture for me, so he had taken his inner tube out of his bike bag to make room for the camera. Also, our tire inflator was attached to my bike which was at home.
Poor Davey had to walk 2 miles home in his bike cleats. Not only that, there was so much pollen in the air that you could see it floating around. After Davey got home, he texted me this picture:
Unexpected obstacles, unpredictable weather and unforeseen challenges pop up ALL THE TIME in our triathlon training. Our workouts aren’t always as pretty as my Instagram feed portrays. Our best intentions and scheduled plans don’t always become a reality. We get flat tires, sore muscles, scrapes, sunburns, full blown allergy attacks, injuries, and have bad attitudes and blah days.
We love training together, but trying to coordinate our schedules to find time to workout isn’t always easy. And we don’t even have kids yet! (To all you parents out there who are training for triathlons… we don’t know how you do it. You’re AWESOME!)
Here are a few things that we’ve found really help us when things don’t always go as planned in our triathlon training:
1. Always Have The Essentials
There are a few things you should never leave home without. When you have an open water swim on the agenda, make sure you put sunscreen on if you’re not wearing a wetsuit! Goggle marks fade after a few hours… goggle sunburns don’t. And make sure you always swim with a buddy. When you’re biking, be sure to pack a spare inner tube, your tire inflator and lots of water.
Some of our essential items are: sunscreen, sunglasses, extra hair ties, spare inner tube, Co2 tire inflator, chapstick, iphone (for music, MapMyRun, emergencies or for capturing that amazing Instagram-able picture), and snacks. We never leave home without snacks. Figure out what things are essential for you and then make sure you either have them with you during your triathlon training workouts.
2. Go With The Flow
When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Obviously, it’s important to train your body for your triathlon, but it’s also vital to train your mind and your attitude. Unfortunately, when I’m faced with an unexpected obstacle or a scheduling conflict, my first reaction is to have a tantrum. The good news is that my tantrums are getting shorter and shorter and I am learning to go with the flow and be more flexible.
Flat tire? No problem! I’m prepared and I know how to change it! Freak thunderstorm? It’s ok, I’ll just do one of Davey’s awesome triathlon strength training routines. Sore arms when I have a swim workout planned? I’ll just give my arms a rest and go for a run instead. When I don’t feel like working out and would rather sit on the couch and eat ice cream? Crank up my workout music and tell myself that if I workout then I can have 2 scoops of ice cream instead of one. Just kidding. Well, sometimes I do tell myself that, but I also remind myself that I never regret a workout and I’ll feel so much better when I’m done.
When things don’t go as planned in your triathlon training, it’s a perfect opportunity to practice being flexible, going with the flow and coming up with Plan B (or C or D). Things will inevitably happen on race day that you didn’t expect and if you have a strong mind and a good attitude, you’ll be able to face the challenges head on and still have a great race!
3. Get Creative
When our training plans get foiled or we don’t have time to drive to the lake for an open water swim, we like to have a few fall back options. For me, I always know that if my original workout plan falls through, then I can head over to spin class, swim laps at the pool or do a quick strength training routine with our home gym equipment. Davey will usually hop on the bike trainer or do this workout.
Get creative and come up with some alternatives that work for you. And your workouts don’t always have to be crazy, sweaty and intense. Sometimes a nice walk after dinner, a good stretch session or a date with your foam roller is just what your body needs.
4. Take A Day Off
This may sound like a cop-out but when you’re running short on time and things just aren’t going your way, sometimes this is your only option. When we’re faced with a schedule conflict, then we like to take a look at the rest of our week and see if we can make it up another day.
If the rain won’t let up, if you get injured, if you’re allergies are driving your crazy, if you have to work late, then take a day off and don’t feel guilty about it. Sometimes rest is the best thing you can do for your body. Relax, ice, stretch, go lounge by the pool… do whatever you need to do to recover and recalibrate. You’ll be back on track tomorrow… so enjoy your unexpected rest day.
5. Lighten Up
When I was training for my first triathlon, I would get so frustrated, angry and annoyed whenever something went wrong. I saw a flat tire, a missed workout or a twisted ankle as a huge inconvenience and I basically let it ruin my whole day. I’ve learned over the years that pouting and staying angry doesn’t fix the situation or make things better. Shocker, huh?!
However, one thing that really helps is laughter. I’ve notice that if I can laugh at myself when I make a mistake, my whole perspective changes. Triathlon training should be FUN and not strict and rigid. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Unfortunately, we can’t control the weather or predict an injury, but we can just keep moving forward, one step at a time. Laughing and having fun along the way makes every triathlon training journey much more enjoyable.
… go with the flow, get creative, lighten up or take a day off. And make sure you work on your mental toughness, because come race day, when unexpected things happen, you’ll be a pro at responding to each challenge and overcoming any obstacle that you face.
What do you do when unexpected things happen and you can’t get your triathlon training workout in?