Client Profile: How to Train for the Triathlon World Championship with a Full-Time Job

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Triathlon-WC-Training-4Here at Leyton Sports Massage, we have some truly amazing and inspiring clients.

It’s such a privilege to be able to support people in their training goals or help them be pain-free, and we learn a lot from our clients along the way. 

We hope that our new series of client stories and case studies will help or inspire you as you’re working towards your goals, whatever they may be.

Our first client story is about Sarah Burns, who was able to successfully train for, qualify for, and compete in the Triathlon World Championships last year, representing Great Britain.

When we see athletes at big events like world championships, we assume that’s their only job: training.

You may be surprised to learn that Sarah was working full time in advertising (not a low-commitment industry) while training for the event and competing in the world championship qualifiers.

We all know how hard it is to fit training around a busy life, so I asked Sarah if she would share her experience of training for and competing in the event, and to pass on any tips she had for fitting training in around a full time job.

Sarah after competing in the Chicago world championships.

Training for and competing in the Triathlon World Championships while working full time seems like a big task – why did you decide to try for it last year?

“I’d been doing triathlons for a few years and after competing in Ironman, I wanted a new challenge so decided that trying to qualify would be a good next step.”

What was the hardest thing about training for the triathlon qualifiers and the actual championships while you were working?

“Fitting in training for three disciplines is quite time consuming and trying to fit in two bike and swim sessions and three run sessions a week was tricky.

Work is quite demanding and there are often quite a few late nights so I tried to do as much of my training as I could in the mornings to get it out of the way. I left long runs and bikes to the weekend and tried to get them out of the way as early as possible so I could enjoy some of my weekend.

I incorporated parkrun [a free 5K run in many parks across the UK] into my schedule, often doing an hour on the bike beforehand and meeting up with my sister and nephew at parkrun. It was a good way of getting in a brick session and catching up with them.” [for non-triathletes out there, a ‘brick session’ is a session where you come straight off the bike for a run].

What’s the #1 tip you would give to someone trying to train for a big event while working a full-time job?

Something is better than nothing.

“If I got stuck at work late on one of the nights I did have an evening session planned I’d still try and do some of the session, but cut it a bit short. Also, sneaking out for a 5k run or a 30 min swim at lunch time was a good way of keeping on top of training when things were busy.

Running in to work also got the commute and training done in one hit.”

Join a club related to your sport, for the added support, motivation and accountability.

You’re a member of both East London Triathletes and East London Runners. What are the biggest benefits of being a member of clubs like these while you’re training?

“The support I got from East London Tri (ELT) and East London Runners (ELR) was really motivating – everyone was behind me which gave me added motivation to train as hard as I could.

I found some of the structured sessions that the clubs ran really useful. I attended the ELT hour and a half swim session on Thursdays. The session doesn’t start until 8:30pm so even if I got stuck at work I could usually make it -and I’d struggle to be disciplined to work that hard in a swim session on my own.

I also attended track sessions with both clubs to help build speed in my running. Again, these are sessions that I wouldn’t make the most of on my own. Everyone had a lot of advice and were really supportive and excited.”

How to Approach Your Boss

Do you have any tips for ways to approach your boss or line manager when trying to work around a tight training schedule and an important deadline?

“Luckily my boss was really supportive. My training schedule didn’t really impact my work too much but if I wanted to get a longer run done in the morning and come in 30 mins late or take an extra 15 mins at lunch he was fine with that. I’d probably end up making it up some time during the week.

Ultimately work had to come first, so there was a bit of give and take. The whole department was really proud of what I was doing and knowing that I’d put in the hours when need be meant there wasn’t really an issue. Although some weeks were quite tiring.”

How Sports Massage Helped

You had regular sports & remedial massage therapy with us during your training. What did you feel were the biggest benefits of incorporating massage therapy into your already tight schedule?

“Regular massage helped keep on top of tightness and helped to identify any potential injury risk areas. It enabled to me keep training and keep me injury-free throughout.

The support of Katherine and the team was a great boost. They were genuinely interested in what I was doing and in helping me to achieve my goals.

It was also the one chance I had to have a bit of time out which is really important.”

Pre & Post-Event Tips

Do you have any other pre or post-event tips for people training for a big upcoming event?

Triathlon Medal“Make sure you have a plan – a training plan and a race plan and try and stick to it.

Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session, do a shorter session, add a little bit on to another session or just let it go.

I would definitely advocate joining a club to help you make the most of your training.

Make sure you have something nice planned for afterwards something you can focus on if you’re finding it tough. It’s surprising how motivating a stack of pancakes with ice cream, cream and maple syrup can be when your legs want to stop in the last kilometer of a run.”

How This Can Help You

There will always be some days where everything you’ve signed up for seems like too much. Whenever you feel too overwhelmed, focus on doing what you can, and refer back to some of Sarah’s tips above for fitting things around.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways I got from Sarah, that could apply to anyone training for a big event:

  • Have a support network. Joining a club is a great way to be around other people who understand what you’re going through and can offer support and advice.
  • Take some time for yourself. It’s easy to burn out when working, dealing with family, and training.
  • Communicate with your boss and co-workers. If they understand what you’re working towards, and you’re making up the time and meeting deadlines otherwise, the odd extra few minutes here and there may not bother them too much, and their support and understanding will probably help a lot.

While I know it’s almost the London marathon (this Sunday, 24th) and many of our clients have been tapering now, many of our clients are just getting started for other events in the coming weeks and months.

If you’re training for an event, let us know here so we can support you, and tell us what tips you’ve taken from this, or things you’ve learned, that you feel will help you make the most of your training and complete your event successfully, either in the comments below, on our facebook page or tweet @LeytonMassage.

Do you know someone who’s training for an event while juggling other responsibilities? If you think this might help them, we would really appreciate it if you’d share this article with them.

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