If you train for Ironman distance races (or maybe for your first half Ironman) there seems to be a tipping point in the training where if you don't have your act together, things start to fall apart! A friend told me a couple weeks ago "Where I think you are strong is your ability to buckle down and execute when you need to." Ahh, if only she knew! It's not necesarily my abilty to buckle down, but more my ability to plan and clear the schedule so that when training load turns upwards, I have space, and I have a plan. For me, this is all about: Stockpiling, and Planning.
Today I will share my top ten tricks for surviving crunch time. These aren't year-round habits, although you may keep a few of them around. These are part of my master preparedness plan for success.
#10: Put your schedule on the fridge. Chuckie taught me this one. It seems like a little thing, but when you are in crunch time it's surprising how easily you can forget the details of your workout. Stop checking training Peaks 100 times, just print that bad boy out and pin it up to the fridge. Chuckie sends us our work in email, sometimes PIC and I's are combined, I print that too, so I know what she is doing and therefore what we can get together for. Chuckie often puts in tidbits of inspiration, so I like to have that visible too.
#9: Stockpile the inevitable. My mom used to say, always buy the biggest package of toilet paper, you'll eventually go through it. Well run shoes, tire tubes, goggles, water bottles, gels, etc. These are all things we go through as an athlete. Buy 2 or 4 of everything and create your own tri shop in your closet. I have 4 pairs of goggles just waiting for me to wear out my current pair.
#8: Make laundry easy. I tend to send the laundry straight to the washer. You are doing more loads than the rest of the family so forget about the laundry basket, go straight to the washer, when it's full, do the load. Embrace nudity between the laundry room and your bedroom, you've worked hard on your body!! Also, I did away with folding and putting away things. It's all about bins. Run shorts bin, cycle shorts bin, sock bin, etc etc. It's just going to end up right back in the washer, why waste the time to fold and put away? Sort and be done with it.
#7: Adopt he Food Purse. You may think it's a purse, but hidden within are snacks/nutrition that I take with me everywhere I go. It doubles for a purse carrying my phone, camera, and wallet too. I always have a tupperware full of EFS and one with Ultragen in it as well. This thing is always full. For the ladies check out Sachi, for the dudes, maybe an Igloo or something will work for you?
#6: Get organics delivered to your door. I use Door to Door Organics and I am in love with their service. Just today they sent me a "local box" full of organic veggies that were locally sourced.
When fresh veggies are delivered to our door every week we eat them. Sometimes its all that is in our fridge. If you are in Colorado, the Kansas City area, Michigan,or the Chicago area check out their service. I find that food shopping is one of the first things to go out the door when training kicks up. Usually it gets replaced with eating out, and eating out means you tap your tri budget, you overeat, and you have no control over oil, fat, and sneaky cooking methods. When I get the box off the porch, I immediately pull everything out and cut it up for storage. The leafy greens all go in a HUGE tupperware in the fridge. If you eat your greens (which you should) you need a huge tupperware. They stay fresh this way.
#5: Stock the freezer: It's amazing what $250 at Costco can do to your freezer. Before crunch time I do one big shop for protein that will last 8-10 weeks. I alert Troy that this is "training food" and needs to last and he helps me dole it out sparingly. I also get organic frozen berries for smoothies. Now, a stocked freezer, Door to Door organics, and a slightly stocked up pantry, and honestly, we don't have to go to the store but once a week if that. This is just in crunch time mind you. Think of how free you would feel if you only had to visit the grocery store for a few little things once a week?
#4: Consistent charging center: We have iphones, ipods, garmins, heart rate straps, bike computers, cameras. Before I figured this out I was always forgetting a heart rate strap, or a garmin, or my garmin wasn't charged. Now I plug it all into a power strip and it all gets put there every night. It doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to be functional, this is for crunch time...you can forget to charge your garmin in the off season.
#3: Make a list of success. Since I train in Boulder several days a week, I am always packing a bag for 2-3 workouts. I have one swim bag, and one bike/run bag. Chuckie suggested that we have a "Boulder bag" but that didn't work for me since I was always stealing stuff from the bag. So I have a "Boulder list". I go through it every time I pack for Boulder and don't even think about it any more. It's all on the list, and if I have it all, I will have a successful training day (next to the Boulder list is my travel race list). The list sits in my closet, so I pull everything from my bins and throw it in my bags.
#2: A plan a day keeps failure away. Every night before I go to bed I write out the next day in calendar form. This scrap of paper lives on the kitchen counter for all to see. I keep a separate scrap for "chores" that need doing. The beauty of the scrap is you can lay out the perfect day, and then when you wake up you just have to hit play. Last night Annie showed signs of a cold so Troy and I wrote up two plans, one for if she was sick and couldn't go to camp, and another for if she was well. That way sickness wouldn't get in the way of success. When we woke up, she was sick, I threw away one plan, and we launched into the other one.
#1: The answer is probably "no." This one is the most important. If you are making all these preparations to simply life while the crunch is on, then the icing on the cake is learning the word "no." It's time to chase your goals, it's not time to be superwoman or superman, it's time to get really good at one thing...training. When you have extra time use it to chill or prep food. Relax on the couch with feet up. Replace "let's go to lunch" with "why don't you bring me a healthy picnic lunch at the end of my run." If your friends aren't willing to do that, then....
But honestly, making the time to relax and not adding too much into my life is what has allowed me to train at a higher level. It's my "not so fancy" way of eliminating stress (good stress, bad stress, any stress that isn't training stress).
I hope you have pulled a few nuggets of wisdom out of this post, maybe you have some of your own tactics that you want to share? Feel free to post them in the comments. Happy training!!!