breaking away....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Balance in Triathlon and Life

Triathlon is quite a challenge when people start to think of trying the sport. Swim, bike and run, one right after the other, in seemless harmony. Three completely different sports, requiring skill in all three and the ability to balance your training in all three. That is what makes Triathlon the amazing sport it is, it requires more than one focus, it is a balance of focus.

The other part of the equation is life, how do we balance our life, like Triathlon it isn't a single focus, when you add triathlon to your life you are looking for where to fit it all in. Some people may be single and have a job, that leaves them with time after work hours to pursue their goals in Triathlon. Some people have jobs, spouses, children and other commitments with community involvement.

If you are pursuing triathlon and have not yet found balance in your life, triathlon may be the teacher you were looking for. In all equations there are many variable, but in one day there are only 24 hours. You can add as many variables together to get 24, but the more you add then you need to give up a little of the others to make it all work.

If we look at Triathlon as swim, bike, run, transition, nutrition and team.
We have a balanced outlook on the sport. In our lifes, we have health, family, finances, community and spirituality. If any of these things is not balanced with the other the result amounts to stress. Stress reduces the health and there you have it balance requires careful planning.

How do you balance training in triathlon, look at the time each of these takes you to complete in the triathlon and you almost have your answer there. If you swim takes 10 percent of your total time, it is probably okay to say 10 percent of your training for swim, if you are a poor swimmer then you may need to add more time for technique work to get your swim time more in line with your other diciplines. If running takes up 40 percent, then that amount of time is appropriate for running, and same with biking. If you have a poor bike, swim or run that may be the place you put more training to bring it into line with where your other disciplines are. This may take more of the training time, but the payoff is big.

Training for swim, bike and run also require us to look beyond the technique. Get into a pair of shorts, spandex might be the best choice as you will be wearing lots of it, now stand in front of a mirror. This is your motor. This is the unit you are going to be swimming, biking and running with through every training situation. This unit has an energy system which like time is limited. It requires you to be very careful in how you plan your training. You will be training your cardiovascular system, your respiratory system and your muscular system, look further and if you don't see it immediately you should realize it is your neuromuscular system, you mind body connection. What is the fuel for this unit or motor. It relies heavily on oxygen, water and proper nutrition, something else to balance.

To begin to train for triathlon you should think of beginning with acquiring the skills through neuromuscular training, learning how your body works for each sport and honing its skills. You should be training your cardiovascular system to begin to supply the body with the required blood flow to all areas. You should be training the respiratory system to fuel the body with oxygen. You should train your muscles to perform these activities over and over and train them so that they are balanced. Balancing your muscular strength will help you avoid injury.

You need to fuel the body with the nutrients it uses daily and make sure it is balanced. Balancing your nutritional needs will allow your body to recover fully from the stresses of training. Make sure you get a variety of food, lots of healthy fruits and vegetables for energy and a variety of protein sources to allow your muscles to recover and get stronger.

A sample week of training should take into consideration your goals. If you rank yourself in each sport you will see if you need to work on skill, speed, or endurance. If skill is the primary choice, think many small focused workouts where you are focusing on achieving a skill, if it is swim, keep the workout short and as soon as the brain is no longer able to hold its focus, your swim is done. The brain fatigues well before the body in these exercises.

If speed is your choice, you need to think about keeping your high intensity workouts spaced throughout the week, no back to back days of high intensity training, follow each hard day with an easy day. Try to project what you hope to achieve in the race into your training, if hills are part of your A race make them part of your training.

Endurance is the one we are working on throughout our training, it takes time to build this one up. Running is limited to 10 percent per week increase in distance. Biking and swimming are a little more forgiving on increasing distance over a week. Remember that adaptation requires the body to respond to the training. You must add rest to allow for the recovery and the body to adapt to the most recent stress. One day off per week minimum. Keep your easy workouts easy and your hard workouts hard, in this way you will be allowing your easy days to be active rest and this is enough to build endurance and technique, your hard days hard, will allow you to work on speed and endurance.

If your workouts get stale it means you are missing an important element, you may not be challenging yourself, you may also be suffering from fatigue. Change things up to keep your motivation high and always try new things.

Training with a group can make your workouts fun, but be careful not to overtrain and succumb to the peer pressure, if you are on an easy day remember to keep it easy.

Success in this sport is not the fastest swimmer, it is not the fastest biker, nor the fastest runner. The balanced triathlete can score equally in skill across all 3 sports, place first in the race and yet never get the fastest swim, bike or run. They approached it from the perspective that they needed to work in harmony to produce the outcome.

If you take that knowledge with you and apply it to your training and your life, you will eat healthy and often, it is the fuel you choose to put in your body that produces quality output or not, junk in, junk out. If you fuel your body with highly nutritious food it will perform amazingly. If you make sure that you are getting your rest each day you will awake renewed and rejuvenated. If you do not neglect your job and your family you will reduce your stress. If you approach your training as a way to enrich your life and not just your sport you will start to find balance.

I have a family, 2 kids, my daughter is 15 and my son is 10. I have a husband and he is also a triathlete. We have both got jobs. My job happens to be coaching triathlon and fitness instruction. I chose this job for balance. My previous job was a computer programmer, very stressful. When I began my family I gave up the job to look after my daughter who has special needs and is not independent. My job at computers was too high stress to put together with my already stressful situation at home. My choice to do Triathlon was to get some health back for myself. Without training I am no good to my family, I use it as a stress reliever and as a way to stay healthy. I chose coaching and fitness training so that I could still work and workout and still be available to my family during our family times. The job I chose fit the life I have. I could not have done a 9 - 5 job and kept up the house, the family and my health. If I get too caught up in the sport my stress goes up and I have to back off and get back in balance.

There is no set of rules to follow to do a triathlon, each person has their own choices to make that help them decide what their goals in the sport will be. Those goals should be in line with your other commitments. Your goals are important and should be part of your life, but they should not overshadow your life. Many people become obsessed with one thing and exclude everything else. Remember life is what happens while your busy making other plans, take the bumps in the road as the lessons we are supposed to learn on our journey.

Balance is a better measure of success.

Have a great training day!

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