The triathlon season generally straddles our Christmas and New Year period, a time when folks tend to holiday, get away for a bit of R’n’R and eat, drink and be merry. As triathletes though a lot of our year is spent following routines and schedules as this, for many, is the only way to fit in all the training required for our multi-disciplined sport. For many this season becomes a double edged sword where routines are set aside and diets are ignored leading to a flat spot in the middle of the season.
As someone who is very familiar with these issues I thought I would give a few suggestions for those still fortunate enough to be off work for a little while longer.
As triathletes we are generally pretty good at planning, over the years I have seen the lists folks make when embarking on an Ironman so the ability to plan is certainly not beyond us. Now you don’t need to get in your peak training volume while on vacation unless your sole objective is to annoy the rest of the family or you are embarking on a world championships tilt. Depending on your own situation staying active and getting in some maintenance training should keep your fitness levels in check and enable you to stay in the good books.
Make use of the facilities, whatever they may be.
Many of us head to the coast for our summer holidays. This generally means beaches of which we are blessed with some crackers and these can be a great place for all sorts of training.
Taking the kids for surfing lessons can be a great way to get some water time in. Swimming out with the on their boards, pushing them on a wave and then body surfing the next one in to shore to tell them how great they are doing and point them back out to sea can be a great impromptu sessions of “ins and outs” and also a good excuse to buy a GOPRO for holiday memories of course. Surfing as well, is a great way to keep the arms ticking over in lieu of any structured training.
Some beaches can also be a good place to ride mountain bikes if the conditions are right, or a Fat Bike could be another way to enjoy sand riding.
A nice long beach can serve a multitude of uses.
Running along a beach is one of the simple pleasures in life. It doesn’t matter the weather or conditions to paraphrase the old saying the worst day of running on the beach is still better than the best day running on the road. It does however tend to crush the ego if you are trying to maintain averages or paces as the beach can be unforgiving at times. They are generally subject to the worst of the wind conditions on any given day, the sand density can vary from metre to metre depending on the height of the tide and the direction in which it is heading. So I find it best to just run for time, forgetting pace and distance and just enjoy the moment.
For those not heading to the beach there are usually still plenty of great opportunities for some tourism training. If the kids are along and are learning to ride then taking them out for a ride while you run alongside can be a great way to squeeze in an hour or so of reasonable training while still ticking over “brownie points”. GPS devices are becoming commonplace now in most triathletes kit and with many having a function that helps you get back to where you started, remembering directions is no longer an issue and you can simply keep running and enjoying the sights until it’s time to go “Back to Start”. Sometimes simply time on your feet can be a lot better than nothing. A bush walk or trek can get the heart rate up and use some muscles that don’t get much use sitting around eating and drinking.
For those whose holiday accommodation has fancy facilities there is always the gym treadmills and spin bikes but these can defeat the purpose of being on a Summer holiday and being out in the great outdoors, you also need to be careful that you don’t bring the “full triathlete” to an otherwise subdued gym, lest you fall victim to your own seriousness. To find out how wrong it can all go read one of the funniest things I have read on the internet. Hurricane Bob Mina recounting his first day as a Triathlete in a spin class.
Another way to ensure you are nudged into keeping yourself in check is to enter a race to coincide with the holiday. Now I’m not talking about the way we “graciously” offer our partners a holiday so we can do a race we are targeting in some less than idyllic locale but looking around for an even to target that may coincidentally be on near where you are actually holidaying. Fun runs, park runs and ocean swims can often be found in many areas in the summer months to keep you busy. This can also ensure that you bring your kit along with you so as not to allow any excuses for not doing your thing.
One of the many surf swim races on our fabulous coast over summer.
The takeaway from all this is holidays are supposed to be fun and relaxing, if that involves not training then so be it, if not training will make you stressed and ensure you don’t enjoy the holidays and subsequently others don’t enjoy holidaying with you then do what you need to stay balanced.
Do what you need to do, not too much, just enough, as triathletes we are pretty good at the juggling act.