One of the most important benefits of being a triathlete, or being an athlete in any endurance sport, is the lifestyle that accompanies your activity. Your decision to pursue your sport means that you have had to organize almost everything you do in such a way that you can actively participate to your fullest.
Triathlon encourages you to exercise frequently, to eat properly, to manage your sleep, to balance recovery, to choose the right equipment. There are so many different facets to this sport—and so many different areas within this sport where you can focus on improvement and find opportunities for growth and development—that your lifestyle is fundamentally, and similarly, impacted.
The Cycle of Change
In other words, it's hard for you to see an incremental change in your level of skill or level of participation in the sport without making incremental changes in other areas of your life.
Everything is, in a way, part of a closed circle. If your training hours are to go up, then some other area or some other commitment in your life must commensurately decrease in commitment. Because holistic development is a cyclical thing, there are times when you will commit resources perhaps to your sport, and then times when you shift those resources away and put them back into something else, be it work or family or perhaps another hobby or some social time.
Why Design A Fit Life?
Sure it's sexier to start with a race and a challenging training plan, plotting century rides and marathon greatness weeks and months ahead of schedule. In a way, it's more of a visualization exercise than what I'd consider planning, as so much of the work to be done is oddly abstract and detached from the life you lead now.
Instead of getting lost in the details, you can target a set of bigger points that can, when connected, lead you to be successful at all facets of your sport. Beware the minutiae!
5 Fit Life Commandments
Sometimes, details are too much to manage. Instead, having core areas to focus on from time to time allows us to keep the big picture in focus even if everyone isn't looking directly at the camera. You get the idea. So if you find yourself lost in the details, consider the following commandments to get you on track.
1. Plan From The Ground Up
Picking a race and then training for it across many months is a massive exercise. To be your best, everything about you needs to be in "sync" with your athletic goals. Forget calculating annual hours or pie charts dividing each week by discipline—these all pale in comparison to who you are today.
Your life, your job, your means, your goals, everything down to the work you need to do to achieve your goals, they all constitute critical elements of your plan. Ignore these elements and you risk creating a fantastic plan for a season that will only ever exist in a vacuum.
Instead, begin your seasonal journey by taking a 360-degree look at who you are. Are you a mother? A CEO? Do you work full-time? Do you enjoy volunteering or spending Sundays at church? Are you a vegetarian? An early riser? A late-worker? Are you saving for a new house, or perhaps a vacation?
All of these components, seemingly unrelated, are an integral part of who you are. Lay out your season and your athletic goals to include these elements, both on a macro and daily level, and you'll be well on your way to being successful as you can possibly be. A plan that builds upon your network and involves your family and friends will outperform almost any other plan.
2. Focus on Fun and Challenging Activities
Building an entire season around a race is a lot like planning for Christmas...in January. Sort of exciting but not really. And it makes for a really long spring, summer, and fall.
While long-term planning is an important part of any endurance sport, it shouldn't be the defining element. Look too far in the distant future and you'll miss out on the short-term—perhaps even daily—opportunities to make improvements and positive changes. If it isn't fun, you aren't going to keep doing it.
Fight the planning blues by filling your calendar with regularly scheduled fun and cool activities. Outside of your sport, there are plenty of events that will keep you focused (athletically), test your abilities (physically) and force you to execute (mentally)—all without the perceived cost of the long-term event.