Creating time. Words from Tom Epton
If you’re an athlete training upwards of ten hours a week while also working you’ll likely face some constraints on your time. We can’t all eat, train, sleep and repeat but it is possible to reach an extremely high standard while also working – the Olympics used to be for amateurs after all! It’s also likely you’ll have other people who exist around you, rely on you and, hopefully, want to see you. This means that you’ll need to be creative with your time in order to perform how you want to while also not neglecting other aspects of your life such as your family and friends.
The simplest thing you can do is set a bedtime that you meet every day, without fail. This will depend on when you prefer to train and how much sleep you need – though eight hours seems to be the golden zone. A sustainable pattern for me is 10pm to 6am every day. This is eight hours of sleep. The sleep schedule you choose should be followed on the weekends too unless you find yourself really needing extra. I would argue that eight hours is a lower limit but ultimately the amount of sleep you need is different for each person. The key is to maintain a reliable pattern. Having a regular sleep schedule allows you to plan around it, as you’ll be confident that waking up on time will be less of a problem.
Eating (and cooking) is the next easiest change to make – cooking in bulk is a great way to save time. This allows for healthy meals which are readily available for you to grab out the fridge. Combining mealtimes with sessions (or vice versa) is also a good technique for saving time. Timing a training session such that you get back for a meal means your post session snacking time and meal times are now simultaneous – I find this is also a good technique to prevent the overconsumption of junk food post ride! Combining bulk cooking and meal timings is great too – you don’t have to cook post ride that way when you might be feeling a bit flat, you save time, save washing up and reduce junk food. It’s a super efficient way to eat healthy, fast and tasty food!
Some jobs don’t allow for much flexibility, but more of us are working from home at the moment which means we might have the ability to spread our work out during the course of the day. If, for example, you have three training sessions planned and eight hours of work to complete you might structure your working day in this way…
– Wake Up, Coffee and Breakfast
– 3 hours of work
– First session of the day
– Shower and a post session snack, begin 60 minutes of work
– Session two
– Shower and Lunch, pre cooked of course as you’re a full convert to bulk cooking now.
– 4 hours of work
– Final session then shower, dinner and regular evening stuff.
Obviously if you have children or someone dependent on you then this will need to be factored in, but if you can work different hours from just 9-5pm then take advantage of that! This also breaks up your working day which I find improves productivity. As a result I find I have to work less hours to achieve the same outcomes as I would without training.
Planning some training sessions by the impact they have on your work is also a good time saver, for example if you have to concentrate at work then don’t do an interval session immediately before. It’s likely that you’ll have some residual tiredness from this which will reduce your ability to concentrate, in turn your work tasks will take longer. This means that you should do the sessions that impact other commitments most after you’ve done those other tasks – for example don’t plan to write a blog immediately after a three hour training ride the day after a chain-gang, you’ll be tired and it’ll take longer than usual!
Combining your training with your social and family life is a really good way to kill two birds with one stone. If you’ve got mates who you usually see at the pub who have started cycling in lockdown go for a ride with them. Family bike rides double up as a great recovery session (no you don’t need to put your power meter on the tandem), as do dog walks. Going for a run with the kids on the bike is also a great way to spend quality time together, getting active as a family and get a good aerobic run in!
Careful planning is the final tip. Put your training sessions into your work diary and put busy work days into your training plan – that way you won’t be scheduling a five hour ride the same day as a big deadline at work. Planning a 6am run sessions the day after the pub is also not the best move so make sure you have your work, social and training commitments all in one place to help reduce the chance of clashes.
Incremental time savings throughout the day can really add up, five minutes every day saves you more than 30 hours during the course of a year. Taking every opportunity you can to save a bit of time does add up and that time can be used to train more, spend more time with your family and friends or get a bit of extra shut eye! Get on a regular sleep schedule, bulk cook meals, be clever with when you eat, take advantage of work flexibility and careful, clear planning to avoid conflicts!
And, don’t forget your insurance because it will keep you riding if something were to happen to your bike after all that training..! 🙂