Q: How do you balance workouts while being a college student?
Amy Marsh answers:
A: A few weeks back, we discussed how parents can adapt to their kids’ school schedules. But if you’re the student, triathlon training can be just as hard to squeeze in between classes, work and a social life. Before you go crazy trying to balance it all, learn the key to commitment.
The key is planning.
When you plan ahead, you help eliminate any excuse to not train. Take these steps to make juggling school and triathlon easier than your Monday morning elective.
1. Invest in a bike trainer (or convince your parents that this is a dorm-room necessity).
Having a trainer in your room is a convenient way to get in a quality workout when you’re short on time. Even better, you don’t have to deal with campus traffic, stop lights or bad weather.
2. Muscle your own transportation.
Instead of getting to class by foot, four wheels or a public bus system, consider riding your bike. This will add a few extra miles into your training during the week, while helping to sculpt your cycling muscles. You’ll probably get across campus faster and it doesn’t cost a dime. Of course, please obey all traffic laws and be courteous of pedestrians and other vehicles. If you’re not comfortable — or just not awake enough — pedals down!
3. Become a weekend warrior.
If you can, try to plan your classes around your training schedule — instead of the other way around. One option is to avoid Friday classes, so you have a solid three-day training block every week with Monday as a recovery day. Speaking of recovery…don’t forget that rest is an important part of your training program. Keep your dorm stocked with easy-to-make nutrition. A shaker cup and quality protein powder are the most convenient when you’re limited on cooking tools.
4. Condense your classes.
Maybe you work on the weekends or like to tailgate all day for your school’s football games — you are in college, after all. If you prefer to keep Saturday and Sunday flexible for your other commitments, I recommend scheduling your classes back-to-back during the week. For example, if you’re a morning exerciser, keep your school block in the afternoon and evening. This will give you time to fit in a few long sessions during the week.
5. Join the club.
Sign up for a running, cycling, swimming or triathlon club to meet like-minded people, get guidance from a qualified coach and maybe even pick up a competitive training partner who will help push your limits. If there isn’t a club team at your school, consider taking a P.E. class in one of the three disciplines.
6. Carry a change of clothes.
When your professor is a no-show or cuts class short as a reward for good grades, be ready to take advantage of the extra time. With a change of clothes on hand, you’re able to work out between classes — even if it’s just a short run or quick strength-training session. Be sure to freshen up with some baby wipes and deodorant before heading to your next class.
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. ‘Like’ them on Facebook or follow on Twitter: Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and Amy @AmyCMarsh.