The Gray Area of Training

After my last post I enjoyed a week of giving myself grace with this training cycle. I didn’t stress about getting to a treadmill, and the one night I could have gotten to a treadmill I choose fresh air and the outdoor elements instead. A guilt-free week of cross-training put me in the mood to get back to more structured training this week. With a new sense of determination I checked the weather to see what I’m up against this week…Oh, just five days in a row of snow.

Ack! Not ideal, but I’m a triathlete and I will find a way. I am committing to two treadmill runs this week, even if it means skipping a morning swim with my tri team. if you have any fun treadmill speed work suggestions share them in the comments!

The other thing I noticed in looking ahead to this week is that I have after-work commitments in the evenings on Monday and Tuesday. At first I cringed, but I know I can prioritize because time management is my jam!

Some time-management tricks:

  • Cook ahead! Nutrition is a big deal for me, so I cook cauliflower rice, various vegetables and chicken on Sundays. I also take the time to chop raw vegetables so they are ready to quickly grab and go during the week.
  • To go along with cooking ahead, I also pack my breakfast/lunch/dinner the night before if I can. Does it feel weird to carry a sack of your entire day’s worth of meals? Yes, a little. But good-for-me foods are a priority and I’m getting stronger at resisting feeling judgement. (Side note, nobody is actually judging you for doing this, they are genuinely just curious.)
  • Pack a gym bag ahead of time. I have two bags packed the night before a morning swim, one with my swim gear and one with my work clothes for the day. I’m terrified I’ll forget to pack underwear so I just keep an additional bag in my car with underwear, shoes and socks. Those 4:00am alarms can cause forgetfulness!
  • Speaking of 4:00am, that’s when I blend my breakfast smoothie to consumer after my swim. I put my smoothie ingredients in the blender the night before, put the blender can in the refrigerator over night, and then blend in the morning.
  • Pack a bag with potential workout clothes for unplanned blocks of free time. On Friday I packed a bag with outdoor running gear because I wanted to sneak a short daylight run in after work. I ended up ducking out early and got my entire long run done that afternoon!
  • I live in a city where traffic jams can cause my commute to take me an hour to get home. The packed bag of workout clothes for unplanned blocks of free time also works in this situation. I have had times when I was stuck in traffic, took the next exit, changed into my run clothes and went for a run. An hour run is a much better use of time than sitting in traffic.
  • When I’m on my way to the pool I have my swimsuit on under my clothes to make a quick T1. I have also been known to sleep in my suit the night before an early morning swim.
  • Have a stash of note cards with go-to workouts for the trainer, running and swimming (unless you’re coached, do what the coach told you to do!). I have about 20 notecards in ziplock baggies in my swim gear bag so I always have something structured ready to go.

Re-reading my tips above, I realize that most of them are more on the nutrition side, but good nutrition takes time and effort! It’s not always easy, but being proactive helps with time management and staying true to my commitments.

Last week in training…

Monday: Yoga, stretch, core, light strength.
Tuesday: AM swim 2,100 yards. PM recovery effort trainer ride.
Wednesday: AM strength training. PM snow-shoe run.
Thursday: AM swim 2,100 yards. Unplanned couch night.
Friday: Unplanned long run, 12 miles–OUTSIDE!!
Saturday: Team trainer ride, one hour & forty-five minutes followed by HIIT.
Sunday: 3,000 yard swim.




While my training may not look perfectly crafted from a plan, I know I’m working hard in my own way. When I plan and analyze my training it’s not black and white. There is a lot of gray area, and that’s what’s best for me. I was able to break six hours in a half ironman last summer in my own way, I’m confident I can continue to push myself again this season.

Seventy-five more days until the marathon!


  1. Love your time saving tips! I would add one more…doing laundry while on the trainer. I start a load of wash before getting on the trainer and then when I’m done with my 1 hour workout, I throw the clothes in the dryer (or hang them if they are techs). They are typically dry when I am done showering + refueling. I’m also considering getting a Rumba to save time vacuuming each week because…all the dog hair. ❤

    Here are a couple of my favorite treadmill running challenges:
    Workout 1:
    55 minute Treadmill Intervals:
    20 minutes easy.
    Then all @ fast sprint EFFORT (NOT PACE) – Each SET should get faster than the last working set. This should be TOUGH!
    2 x 90secs with 90 secs rest recovery
    feet off belt….
    4 x 60secs with 60 secs rest recovery
    feet off belt….
    4 x 30secs with 30 secs rest recovery
    feet off belt….
    4 x 15secs with 15 secs rest recovery
    5 minutes very easy

    Workout 2:
    Warm up for 20 minutes
    3 x 30 second striders with 30 second rest
    Fully recover and then…
    2 x 1 mile at 7:25-7:30 pace and 4 minute jog between each mile
    2 x 1/2 mile faster pace than set above and 60 seconds standing rest between each.
    cool down easy as needed

    Workout 3:
    Lucky 7s
    10 minute warm up
    Then lock treadmill @ “x” mph and do not adjust the remainder of the workout – Should start in high zone 1/low zone 2
    Start with 1 minute @ 6% grade
    Then 6 min @ 1% grade
    Then 2 min @ 5% grade
    Then 5 min @ 2% grade
    Then 3 min @ 4% grade
    Then 8 min @ 3% grade
    Then 3 min @ 4% grade
    Then 5 min @ 2% grade
    Then 2 min @ 5% grade
    Then 1 min @6% grade
    Then 6 min @ 1% grade
    10 minute EZ cool down


  2. Traffic jams in Madison? I was under the impression that you lived closed/in to the city. I definitely pack my gym bag the night before. I also keep it stocked with all the toiletries because it’s just easier that way. I keep an extra set of workout clothes in my office, but don’t think I’ve ever used it. :-/


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