I have been meeting with a few new athlete recently and one question that comes up a bit is:
How do you fit it all in?
Sometimes they are talking about all the training sessions, sometimes they are talking about particular sessions like long rides or strength work, but it always comes down to the art of juggling the amount of training and the time available.
Like all good questions, this is one that has a couple of answers.
Firstly, not all training will fit in for all people. When determining how much training you are going to try and cram into your life it is important to have a realistic think about how much will fit. It is nice to think you can fit in all the training you want, but the reality is there will be a limit before you lose your job, your marriage falls apart and your friends all abandon you. Generally it is best to stop training before you hit that point. Once you know how much you can fit you can work with your coach to figure out what sessions have priority, but it is important to figure out the limit first.
Once you know how much time you have, figure out what times work best for you. For many people training in the morning is the most convenient and most likely to result in training program compliance. Training in the morning uses time that would often be spent sleeping and that can easily freed up by simply going to bed earlier. Training in the morning gets it out of the way too allowing people to concentrate on the rest of their day. What if you work early though? Well obviously morning training won't work so the training will have to move to the afternoon. The key is to identify the times that work for you and are going to make it easiest to fit the training into your day with the smallest impact. When training isn't a big interruption to life then you are more likely to fit it in.
The most important tip that I found for fitting in training though was to understand just how much dead time we usually have in our days. Time spent on social media, in front of a TV, just generally wasting time. These are moments that when liberated can make fitting in training just that little bit easier. People often ask me about strength training, when do you fit it in? I did Pilates and stretching every night for about 40 minutes while watching TV, time that would have otherwise been wasted. What about the hours most people spend staring at a screen every night? How about getting your Netflix fix while on a trainer. Or how about if you forgo that screen dead time all together and instead head to bed? The extra sleep you get means that you able to be up early the next morning for training. People often feel there aren't enough hours in the day, but then waste the hours that they have. If you really think about what you are doing with your time, it is possible to fit in much more than you might have thought possible, even if the number of hours you have is restricted.
Really when it comes down to training it is about time management. Figure what is important in your life and priortise that. If training and racing is important then make them a priority. Perhaps don't priortise them over family and work, but perhaps make it a higher priority than heading out for another beer.
When it comes down to it, those that want it enough will always find a way. Fitting in training is a case of deciding how much time you have, planning out when the sessions will fit and prioritising those sessions in your lifestyle.
When people first start training people often wonder how the training will fit in. After a few years the training has become such a way of life that they wonder how life worked without fitting it in.