It’s all well and good to have a training program that tells you to do a 3 hour ride on Wednesday, to drive 20 minutes to the pool on Thursday, swim for an hour and drive 20 minutes home (and shower and dress), UNTIL all hell breaks loose! Your boss wants you to arrive at work early and leave late to finish a project, your spouse’s car is broken down and you have to drop him or her off to the mechanic and pick her up and you need to take on the chauffeur duties for the children, and your in laws are visiting and you need to mow the lawn, take care of the yard, and clean the house in order to avoid making your mother in law cry because her child is living in filth (i.e. a house that has some dust and a yard with 3 weeds).
What do you do when all hell breaks loose? Some would suggest “trying your best” to stick to your schedule. I suggest throwing your schedule out and becoming determined to do the following:
- Put your bike on your bike trainer and leave it there until life settles down. Leave your bike shoes on there as well.
- Commit to doing a minimum workout schedule NO MATTER WHAT.
- Do the “When Hell Breaks Loose Workout” at least 3 times during the week. If you can find the time, also aim for one good swim at the pool and one brisk 1 hour run.
The “When HELL Breaks Loose Workout”
1. SWIM. Do swim cords exercises . (5-10 minutes) Instead of doing the swim cords exercises as a warm up before swimming, you’ll be doing them as your swim workout. Do 2 sets of “full pulls” (simulating a full swim stroke) until failure (you can’t do any more reps). If you are really pressed for time just do 1 set.
2. BIKE. Then jump on your bike, which is already on the trainer. Ride easy for a few minutes- only as long as it takes to warm up. Then for an hour (or 45 minutes, or 30 minutes if you are really time crunched), do either an intervals or a brisk aerobic maintenance ride.
- Maintenance Ride. Steady or tempo intensity, nonstop. Mix in a handful of threshold reps if you’re fit. No easy recovery after your reps- immediately resume your steady / tempo riding.
- Bike Intervals. Early to middle base focus on tempo or sweet spot intervals with a smattering of threshold. In the late base focus on threshold reps.
3. RUN. Quickly strap on your running shoes and go out for a 15-30 minute brisk run, start at steady and gradually raise your intensity to your upper tempo zone. If you can stretch one of these runs to an hour or so, you might be able to skip the hour run workout that you will try to do during the week.
Note that this workout can be as short as 5 minutes of swim cords exercises, 30 minutes of biking, and 15 minutes of running (50 minutes). Commit to doing this at least 3 times per week, no matter how stressed out, helpless, or exhausted you might feel. Also note that this program can be done when you travel. Just bring your own stretch cords and find a workout center with a bike and a treadmill.
We all need to draw a line in the sand– a minimum of training that we MUST do, no matter what happens in life (not counting injury or illness, of course). And I suggest that this program should be that line. If you’ve been training well and consistently, you can stay on this program for a week or two without losing much fitness and you should be able to jump right back into your training plan as soon as your in laws leave town. And you can feel confident that even if all hell breaks loose, you will still have heavenly race results.
For more information about how to train for an IM with limited time, visit my post “A Sub 10 Ironman in 10 Hours Per Week”