Rookie In Training: Balancing Triathlon With Life

  • By Jason Devaney
  • Published Jun 19, 2013
  • Updated Oct 7, 2013 at 8:26 PM UTC

Every Wednesday in “Rookie in Training,” beginner triathlete Jason Devaney will share training advice he learns as he trains for his first half Ironman.

I had what I’ll call a “taper week by default” last week.

Fitting a busy week of training into an even busier week of working, living and everything else we do is the ongoing challenge for us age groupers. Last week, work got the best of me and I pretty much tore up my training plan and resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t getting much done.

Two Masters swim practices, one open-water swim and a short bike ride was all I got in.

Far from ideal, especially with my “A” race now only eight weeks away.

By the end of the weekend, I was grumpy and I felt lazy. My Sunday bike ride was awful, as my legs felt heavy and my energy level was low.

My body was, and still is, at war with my mind—the body wants to keep relaxing and “tapering,” while the brain knows it’s time to buckle down.

I’m learning that we all have these weeks. It happens. We’re not professionals; we don’t have the luxury of relying on training and racing to support ourselves and our families.

The best thing to do is look at the next week’s training schedule and move on.

“Training is not everything, and life continues regardless of your race goals and training schedule,” said Sara, a federal police officer and a three-time half-Ironman finisher who is training for her first Ironman in August. “Set priorities, and be flexible and creative when work and home schedules interfere with your training schedule.”

Sara is a perfect example of the work-life-training balance. She works the overnight shift, and her weekends do not fall on the same days as everyone else’s weekends. Her workouts typically occur in the afternoons or early evenings. She normally trains by herself. Mornings are reserved for sleeping and recovering.

RELATED: Seven Tips For Balancing Training With Life

It’s a challenge that takes discipline, organization, flexibility and focus.

“Be reasonable with your training schedule, and don’t expect other responsibilities to take a back seat as you train,” said Sara, who recommends that new triathletes only do 2-3 races in their first few seasons. “Follow your [training] schedule as best you can, but be prepared to modify your workouts to fit them into your busy work and home schedule.

“A little creativity and discipline goes a long way in getting all of your workouts completed.”

With the amount of training you put in, missing a few days won’t have an effect on your overall fitness. If you miss a long run or bike ride, it might be a good idea to reschedule it for later in the week if you can. If that’s not possible, chalk it up to your “taper week by default” and move forward.

And it does feel nice to take a much-needed break in the middle of your training schedule.

Just don’t make a habit out of skipping workouts. If life starts to get in the way, move your workouts around so you can fit everything in.

Jason Devaney is a freelance contributor to, and A resident of Virginia, he spends way too much of his free time training. When he’s working, he’s typically dressed in either sweatpants or a cycling kit. Follow him on Twitter @jason_devaney1.

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