It was 4:45am and my alarm was telling me to get out of bed and get down to the pool for my swim workout. Waking up at 4:45am for the early workout has been a challenge that I’ve learned to live with. Success in the sport of triathlon requires these types of sacrifices in order to prioritize what matters most in our lives: our family. The early wake up tomorrow means the evening is open to help your kids with homework or binge watch a Netflix episode with your wife. Truly more important matters.
But this particular morning my eye was closed shut, and a discharge was coming out of the side of my eye. I realized then and there that the swim would have to wait. I had a more important matter to take care.
There was a time when a condition like this would send me into a panic. Not because of the condition of my eye (I’ve got another one that works fine, after all), but because I was missing my morning session. This meant I was starting my day in a hole. I wouldn’t get in the two sessions my training called for. I would struggle to get in the weekly hours that I needed. I would be forced to try and cram this session in on another day, or worse yet, fail to reach my weekly goal for training.
Sound familiar to you? Well, let me share with you what I’ve learned in the sport about days like these.
Things will always come up, and you have to learn to prioritize what will give you longevity in the sport. The following are in no particular order, but they are all equally important.
1) Listen to your Body
If you wake up and your body has not recovered, listen to it! Skipping a session might do more for your training than gutting out a session in poor form. The quality of your workouts matter more than the quantity of your workouts.
2) Listen to your Family
If your session is competing with your child’s recital, your spouse’s company event, or another family obligation, your session needs to be put in its place. I’ve been the guy to blow off a family obligation only to find myself mentally absent from the workout that I decided to attend. If you aren’t mentally present, your workout won’t be as effective as you need it to be.
3) Listen to your Spouse
We all know that our spouses will be our most accurate critic. They know us. The real us. Not the person we pretend to be when we show up to the group ride. In my time in the sport, I’ve sadly seen divorce run particularly high amongst triathletes. Folks, let me just say that your vows matter more than this sport. If your spouse says you’re losing it, they’re probably right. You can do a lot of good for your marriage when you skip the session in favor for making your spouse breakfast in bed. Be on the look out for those cues!
4) Listen to your Coach
If you’ve hired a coach, you should’ve clearly laid out your goals for the season with them. If you need to skip a session, make sure that you’ve had a chance to first inform your coach. If doing so is unrealistic, a la a 4:45am wake up, then circle back with your coach and explain why you missed it. Your coach should then adjust your training to not dig you into a hole and overly challenge you mentally. Your training is goal-centered and most coaches include some “slack” in your week or have prepared for missed sessions.
5) Remember your Why
And finally, remind yourself why you are in this sport. Don’t ever lose sight of your why and remind yourself of that when you think back on your missed session. The year is too long to get wrapped up on one missed session. Listen to the cues in your life that will let you know when to skip a session and divert your time to something far more important and something that will outlast the sport.