I really, really struggle to keep on top of training. I’m mostly consistent but I do not often fit in as much as I’d like to. And how much would enough be? How long, indeed, is a piece of string? I especially battle to maintain a balance of training in adventure racing’s three fundamental disciplines: running, biking and paddling. The scales shift constantly with lots of this and too little (or none!) of that.
These are some recent discoveries that are helping me to commit to doing a bit more of each.
I rarely ride my bike outside of races. It’s a combination of inconvenience (trails not close to home), fear (chicken to ride on the road), preference for running and lack of local company. As a result, I suffer on the bike in races. I’ve recently returned to yoga (super cross training) and with traffic being what it is, I have faced my fears head-on. It’s faster for me to ride to the yoga studio, which is about 15km each way, than it is to drive and I can do most of the route on pavements. Sure, it’s not mega mileage but being on my bike twice a week for an hour-and-a-half is better than not-at-all. And now that I’ve bashed through this mental block my mind is open to other active opportunities.
Regular weekly fixtures like time trials are easy-to-maintain commitments. They’re held at the same time, same place and are of the same duration every week. Paddle and running time trials ensure that you’re on the water and road at least once a week. Recruit friends for a run and a bike ride on weekends. That’s four sessions in the bag each week. The discipline is in maintaining arrangements by making it a priority not to cancel. Skipping time trials is a personal let-down; cancelling on friends lets them down.
Races too are superb weekend fixtures. The adventure racing calendar abounds with options for races that range from a few hours to a weekend or multiple days.
Play dates: spread the load
In January I did a fun ‘Seven Days, Seven Friends, Seven Runs’ activity. I booked runs with seven different friends every evening for a week. We committed to these play dates, in advance, and we ran regardless of the weather. As a result, for the first time in ages I ran a 70km plus week. What a super kick-start to the year this proved to be.
Book sessions during the week and weekends with different mates to mix things up. By spreading the load across numerous friends the demand on their time is limited to one session every few weeks, you get to play with friends who will be faster or slower than you (harder or easier sessions) and you’ll stay committed to arrangements established in advance. An additional bonus is that you score an opportunity to catch up with many friends you may not otherwise have seen for months and to suss out potential teammates for races.
I totally understand how partners can get really mad when you spend more hours training or racing than with them. Adventure racing causes strife especially as weekend races can zap three or four days of family-time, while expedition races can gobble almost two weeks.
Pop a year planner on the kitchen wall. Pencil in your regular training commitments (include the duration of the session too) and well as the races you intend entering. If every weekend is jam-packed, rethink your programme to incorporate time with your beloved. Then, discuss your plans – now visible on the chart – with your partner before inking them in. A year planner has three purposes: it visualises your commitments to training and racing, defines fixtures that have been agreed by both you and your partner and allows, in advance, for arrangements to be made around commitments.
Let’s say you get in three one-hour sessions a week, work an eight-to-six job, have family and home responsibilities and you barely fit in six-hours of sleep a night. I’m presuming that you enjoy your sports and that you would really like to do five sessions a week with a three-hour run or bike over the weekend? You’ve probably tried it, dropping the balls after a week or two when ‘real life’ got in the way. Eh?
Make peace. Sure, the fitter you are and more conditioned you are the faster you’ll race. But, you are not a pro athlete with unlimited time on your hands to train, eat and sleep so just make peace and do what you can. Really, three or four sessions a week is ok. You’ll still make it through a race. You won’t win, but you’ll be OK.
Commit to what you can, make those sessions efficient and effective, love every minute out training and do more when time allows.
Author: Lisa de Speville | Published in Go Multi Magazine, May/June 2011. Vol 15.2