OK, so you've signed up for your event and you’re excited. Now you can focus on your training.
Every event you enter will have to find it’s place in what’s likely to be an already busy routine so, whether you’re aiming to get a great time or just get to the finish line, it’s vital to be organised. Here are 10 top tips to help you fit your event seamlessly into your life and ensure great results all round.
Your best result will not be achieved by hoping for the best with your training. Take some time to look at your schedule leading up to the event and either download or design a programme of progressive training that will see you arrive at the start line in great shape. When choosing a plan, build in some wiggle room that allows you to accommodate busy work weeks, family commitments or unforeseen hiccups like colds or minor injury while still leaving time to get your fitness to where you want it to be.
2) Be realistic
If you currently train for 3 hours a week it’s unlikely you can suddenly ramp this up to 5 or ten hours week. Think about how much time you’d like to spend training each week, temper this with what you can fit into your schedule and where you are with your current level of fitness, and settle on a plan that will challenge you and guarantee progress without leaving you feeling overwhelmed.
3) Be specific
When plotting your training schedule make sure that every session has a clear purpose. Not many people have time for aimless exercise so target every session towards making improvements in your speed, stamina, strength, stability or flexibility.
4) Strive for balance
You may be excited about your event but not everyone will be quite so enthusiastic. Training is important but always be aware of how it might impact on family, friends and colleagues, and aim to keep everyone on side. A great result in your chosen event will be fantastic but not so satisfying if you’ve lost friends along the way. You’ll enjoy the whole experience a lot more if you maintain a sense of balance in your life.
5) Get kitted out
Every event requires some element of kit so you’ll need to list what you need and set a budget for anything new or any upgrades. There are different price points on everything from shorts and trainers to wetsuits and bikes so plan what you’re buying carefully and always do your research to ensure you invest wisely. There’s often a gap between what you need and what you’d like, so be selective and don’t overspend unnecessarily.
6) Be flexible
It’s great to have a plan for training but, given how busy life is and the fact that some of your training will depend on things like the weather and gym opening hours, it pays to be flexible. If the weather suddenly cheers up, make sure you grab the moment to get outside for a longer run or bike ride. A change of domestic plans at the weekend may give you the extra time you need to travel for an open water swim. A family or social visit may present the opportunity to train in some different terrain. Seize these moments when you can. It’s important to follow a schedule but sometimes the best training sessions are those that are impromptu and a bit different.
7) Recovery is part of the process
Just because training is good does not mean that more training is always better. Between sessions is when your body adapts, recovers and grows stronger, so plan your recovery days and enjoy them.
8) Prioritise sleep
With a busy life and a focused training schedule you’ll need to get the appropriate amount of quality sleep for you. This will require some planning, particularly as research suggests that a consistent bedtime and wake up time every night of the week is the most successful approach. It’s worth the effort though as good sleep will help you recover well, train effectively as well as having good energy to complete all your daily tasks.
9) Drink up
Whatever your event, good hydration is your friend. Make sure you quickly get into the habit of drinking water regularly every day as well as establishing your optimum pre- and post-event hydration strategies.
10) Fuel up
To train well and recover quickly you need to focus on a regular intake of quality fuel. Aim to combine complex carbohydrates with lean protein and include plenty of fresh vegetables, salad and fruit with your meals and snacks. It helps to keep a food diary for a few days to see exactly what you’re eating now and how this makes you feel, and then you can experiment with some alternative options and gradually build up a picture of the healthy eating routine that produces the best results for you.