No matter how well you plan out your season, something is bound to come up that will mess up your schedule. Here are some unexpected interruptions that have come up for me alone so far this year: weeks of business travel, a leg injury, several colds, and of course Portland’s terrible weather. Depending on what popped up in your schedule unexpectedly, there are different ways to make sure you still keep on track for your season’s goals:
- Travel: Whenever I have a business trip come up, the first thing I pack is my running gear. Not only is running a great way to break up days of long meetings, it’s also a wonderful way to experience the area that you are travelling to. Supposedly some hotels keep track of maps in the surrounding area, but I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of venturing out on my own and exploring the city.
- Injury: The great thing about being a triathlete is that we have three sports to keep us busy. As frustrating as it is to be injured, most of the time a sports injury will be specific to only one sport. When I injured my calf earlier in the season I scaled down my running almost entirely, but at the same time I took the opportunity to spend more time working on my swim. Being forced to reduce your workload in one sport can be an opportunity to increase your focus on your other sports.
- Illness: This one is tough, since some illnesses can keep you from doing any exercise at all. If you miss only a couple of days you can evaluate making up the time later in the week. If you miss one or two weeks you will want to revisit your schedule and move a rest week onto your last sick week, so you can get right back into things when you feel better. The key here is to make sure you really do wait until you are better before you start exercising again—otherwise you risk delaying your recovery unnecessarily.
- Weather: For us in the Pacific Northwest this has been a big factor this season. We’ve been through one of the wettest springs on record this year. It is challenging to fit two long bike rides and three runs into a week that only has one or two dry days. The key here is to have a backup plan in case the weather turns against you. To make up for long rides I do back-to-back spin classes at the gym. Long runs can be replaced with multiple short runs (running in the rain for a short period of time is usually bearable, while long runs can be quite miserable once your shoes soak up all the water).
Last but not least, if you do fall short of your training goals for a specific week, don’t get too hung up on it. Proper triathlon training is “a marathon, not a sprint,” and missing a couple of hours here or there isn’t going to make a difference in the long run. Keep your eyes on the goal and just focus on returning to your scheduled routine once you’ve overcome your short-term obstacle.