A Line in the Sand


It’s early in my training season and I have been thinking about a question someone asked me a few years ago as it has come up in conversation recently. In my “real job”, an average workweek is well over 40 hours, and includes traveling 2-3 days each week. I have a family, a full career, plus I coach part time. Some days, I feel like I do not have a moment to spare. During my training for Ironman Canada back in 2015, a colleague asked me “How do you do it? How do you fit it all in?” Without any hesitation, I said… “I draw a line in the sand.”

Truth is, getting it all in is hard for me. And as a coach, I see my own athletes sometimes struggle to fit in their workouts, on top of an already busy day with their jobs and families. There are days when your mind plays games with you and tries to get you to give less than your best effort during a workout, cut it short, or to put the workout off altogether. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes life gets in the way. But I am talking about those early mornings or afternoons after a long day, when it seems impossible to wrestle your mind to the ground and do what we know we need to do to support our race goals. So what do you do? Well, here are a few things that help me on those mornings when I just want to hit the snooze!

The Promise

When I am struggling to get out the door, to the pool, or in the saddle, I am reminded of the promise I made to myself around my goals. Because after all, they are my goals. I have to own them. When I sign up for an Ironman or other big race, I make myself a promise that I will do my best to prepare for the event, and I will hold myself accountable.

The Example

In the scheme of things, I am really unimportant in the world of endurance sports. A mere mortal. But I do want to set a good example for my kids and for the athletes I coach. Reminding myself of this from time to time makes it easier for me to push through the tough spots in my training cycle. For my children (who are now adults), I want to show them you can set and achieve big goals if you are willing to put in the work – there’s never a free lunch. Whether in sport, or in life, there are no limits to what might be possible. For my athletes, I want them to know that I am out there working hard, just like I ask them to do. So when they are out there on their long run, or cycling for 5-7 hours in the heat, they know I am out there, too!

Nowhere to hide

In a separate blog entitled “Run On”, I talk about the fact that what we do, or fail to do, in our training will reveal itself on race day. So when I hesitate to get in that tough swim workout, or I don’t feel like running in the rain, I remind myself of this reality.  In this blog, I go on to say:

“We can’t hide from it.  So if we do the work in training, that investment will pay off in a positive way out on the race-course. If we give less than our very best during the training year, if we cut corners, fail to do what we know to do, then that will likely express itself in a negative way on race day.  Training is hard.  It is.  It hurts, it’s time consuming, and it takes away from those we love. But endurance doesn’t come cheap, and it will not be rushed.”

Sometimes it’s the little things that work

Finally, the little things I do can really help me stay motivated to get in that workout. It should be enough that my coach has given thought to my training schedule, and it’s clearly on my calendar to do, right? Well… not always. If I have a tough workout to get in, I first have to re-commit to it the night before (or in the morning for an afternoon workout). That sounds silly, but it works. And then I make sure to set out my workout clothes, fill my water bottles, or pack my swim bag ahead beforehand. Again, I am making a commitment by preparing for the workout ahead of time.

If all else fails, just put your feet on the floor

Sometimes it just takes putting your feet on the bedroom floor to get things started… step 1. Then put on your run shirt and shorts… step 2. Then downstairs… step 3. That gets me one step closer to the backdoor, right? And maybe I can just jog one mile and see how I feel? Before I know it, my long run has started and it really doesn’t feel that bad. Point being, on the most difficult days, just take it one small step at a time.

One thing we can all agree on is that once we get the workout finished, we never regret it. And it will often set the tone for the remainder of you day.

It’s your goal, so fight for it!