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Coach’s Desk: Helping Athletes With Time Management

Our ongoing Q&A series featuring top TrainingPeaks coaches from around the world. In this article, three successful coaches weigh in on their strategies for helping their athletes understand time management and optimize their training. Whether you're a pro athlete or a beginner, time management is a big part of performance.

Whether you coach beginner athletes or serious age groupers, helping your athletes find enough time in the day for training (while maintaining the rest of their lives) is a universal problem. In this month’s installment of Coach’s Desk, we asked three successful coaches:

How do you help your time-crunched athletes fit training into their busy lives and how do you make sure they are prioritizing training in a positive way?

Meredith Atwood

“My coaching philosophy is always about “life before triathlon,” and that the sport should be a way for us to see the good in our lives, enhance our lives and not overly complicate our day-to-day living. I have several conversations (that remain ongoing) with my athletes about their schedules and what is executable. The biggest key to this sport is consistency, so I ensure that we have a training schedule that sets them up for the best success in showing up and completing their workouts. This way they can continue seeing lots of green on the way to their ‘A’ race.”

Katie Whidden

“The key is communication. In our initial discussion I try to outline my thought process as to how days should be shifted if needed.  I also try to give advice in the workout comments regarding how to shorten the workout if time crunched. I work with athletes who travel extensively so I ask them to utilize the “other” workouts to show me when they’re traveling and what activities they can complete. This allows me to plan days that are good for workouts, as well as integrating rest weeks when they are doing extensive overseas travel. Utilizing the tools available to athletes is important. If the athlete knows that they have access to a treadmill or bike at their gym I will plan to meet their needs.

For athletes who don’t travel but lead busy lives day-to-day, I lean on communication tools like email and TrainingPeaks comments to stay in contact. In general I have found that busy athletes tend to respond best to early morning workouts. If they get the workout in before meetings or commitments (which can extend longer than planned) we eliminate the opportunities for missed workouts. Give optional workouts, and label them as such. If the athlete has a meeting that’s cancelled and creates an extra half hour, I’d love for them to fit in a short strength session, office yoga or a short, easy run. This helps them maximize their time without having to wait on me to reply. These are what we call back pocket workouts and are good to have on the plan, as a weekly ‘extra credit.'”

Nate Wilson

“The most important thing I do is to try and help my athletes understand the goals of the training phase that they’re currently in. I advocate that if things get time-crunched, they shouldn’t get stressed about not being able to complete the workout as planned, but just to get out and get some freeform efforts in that meet the goal of the training phase, whether it be getting some sprints in, some tempo work or some volatile, race-like intensity.  Additionally, I like to create workouts with several tiers and priorities, such that ‘X’ intervals are the number one priority, then if the athlete has more time, they move to the next tier.”

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