By Craig Howie
I just made it home from work and I only have about two hours of sunlight left to get a ride in. Quickly, I throw on my jersey and shorts and head out the door. Oops, I forgot my helmet. A quick run back inside, and while I am there, I remember I also forgot my cycling shoes. Where did I leave those again? Another trip to the basement to find my shoes. Let's try this again. Back out the door I go, but I notice a storm cloud rolling over the mountains. I’d better go get my rain jacket. Finally, I'm actually getting on my bike. I should probably put some air in my tires, but I'm already running late. Now with only about an hour and a half of daylight left I head out on the road. I'm about a mile into the ride when I realize I forgot to bring any water bottles or food! AHHHHH!!!!! I don't even want to ride anymore!
Does this sound familiar? Training for endurance athletics can be a complicated time gobbling monster. This is an understatement for the majority of us that are trying to juggle a full time job and/or school with training. Try throwing a serious relationship and/or children in the mix, and you can quickly go crazy if you don't manage your time perfectly. With that said, I want to dedicate this article to the 9 to 5 athlete. Your work ethic is second to none and you are the heart and soul of endurance athletics. I hope the following time saving tips will help you squeeze every minute out of every day.
Tip #1: Plan, Plan, Plan Some of us like to play our training by ear, and work out according to how we feel. Others of us have a very definite training routine down. Regardless of where you may fit on this spectrum, a weekly training plan can save you several hours of time. Try planning the what, when, where, and how of every workout for the week. The more detailed the better. Here is an example of a possible day in a training calendar. Monday: 5:45AM - 6:45AM Meet Craig for a swim at the North Boulder Rec. Center.
Equipment checklist: goggles, cap, suit, fins, towel.
Nutrition: water bottle, gel, breakfast bagel for after.
Note: Remember to pack your work clothes and grab your lunch.7:30AM- 4:00PM Work 4:00PM- 4:15PM Prep for ride4:15PM - 6:30PM ride up Left Hand Canyon from work.
Equipment checklist: shorts, jersey, helmet, gloves, sunglasses, cycling shoes, heart rate monitor.
Nutrition: 2 water bottles with sports drink, 1 bar, 1 banana.
Note: Remember your cell phone.Planning the entire week with this kind of detail will take some of the stress and guess work out of your training. It will also help your loved ones to know what you will be doing in case of an emergency.
Tip #2: Stock Up Endurance sports demand that we use and manage a countless number of products and pieces of equipment. This is especially true for those of us who are multisport athletes. I have found that all of this "stuff" can cause an athlete to waste time by constantly having to restock. For example, your goggle strap breaks. There is a trip to the sporting goods store. You ran out of your favorite sports drink or gel. There is a trip to the bike store. Your shoes are worn out. Another trip to the shoe store.
All of these trips take time, and they could have been avoided. I suggest going to extremes in order to save yourself these stresses. At the beginning of a season, stock up on everything you know you will need. For example, buy three or four pairs of goggles. Buy enough tubes and tires to last the season. Make sure you have plenty of water bottles. Buy the nutritional products you use by the case. I understand that this strategy requires more money up front, but many times you can get discounts for buying in bulk, and this is perfect proof that time really is money.
Tip #3: Take care of the details ahead of time Just as you plan out your workouts for the week, you can also plan out all of the little time consuming chores that must be done to train correctly. Activities that fall into this category include things like filling water bottles for daily rides, packing food for the day, or rounding up training clothes. Take a simple task such as making a breakfast burrito after your morning workout.
It takes much less time to make enough burritos for the week and freeze them than to make one burrito per day. The same goes for filling water bottles. Make all of your bottles for the week on Sunday night and stash them in the fridge. In the clothing category, it might be worth it to spend the extra money in order to have a set of training clothes for each day of the week. This way you won't have to waste time with laundry or hunting down that missing sock.
Tip #4: Be a Boy Scout I know it sounds trite, but always being prepared can be a huge time saver. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven all the way to the swimming pool, jumped in my trunks heading for the pool, and I realized I forgot my goggles. Another common mistake is showing up for a ride somewhere and realizing I forgot some vital piece of equipment such as cycling shoes, helmet, or clothing.
My solution to these space-brained moments has been to always have a back-up. In my car, I carry my old helmet, an old pair of cycling shoes, extra cold weather gear, and even an extra set of work clothes. I also carry a large basket full of nonperishable food such as jerky and sports bars along with bottled water. Despite all of my best efforts to stay organized I usually end up using these back ups at least once a week, but at least I didn’t have to waste time by driving home to pick something up.
Tip #5: Put it all together My final piece of advice is to put all of your training equipment in one place. Imagine running into the transition area of a race only to find your equipment scattered all over the place. You can bet that it will be the slowest transition you have ever had. The same is true for getting ready for a workout. If your cycling jersey is in the basement, your shorts are in the wash, your shoes are in your bedroom, and your helmet is in your car, getting ready to go is a workout in itself. I’ve learned to have what my wife calls a “staging area.” This is the place where I keep every piece of gear I could possibly need for every possible workout. Think of it as the mother of all transition areas. From working man to triathlete in 2 minutes and 30 seconds!
Now that I have shared my time saving advice, let me add a disclaimer. No matter how hard we all may try to be efficient and organized, life will always happen. There will always be something around the corner that you didn’t expect or couldn’t plan for. With this in mind I offer one final piece of advice. Always give yourself more time than you think you need and be flexible with your plans.
Coach Howie’s Tip of the Month Flat tires are always bound to happen throughout a season of training, and according to Murphy's law, they will happen when you forgot your patch kit or extra tube and you are as far as possible from home. In times like these, a dollar bill can be what will get you home. No, not to pay for a phone call or a ride, but to patch the tire. If the puncture is small enough, you can fold a dollar bill into a small rectangle and place it inside the tire against the tube in the location of the hole. With luck, the pressure from reinflating the tire will cause the bill to seal off the puncture for a short while. How's that for a 10-10-220 commercial?