Exiting the open water swim in Triathlon         

So you’ve signed up for a big triathlon event and thinking of getting a training plan to help you prepare. But you’re wondering how it’s possible to stick to a plan when you have a lot of commitments or you don’t have a regular routine due to work or family life.

It was only when I started working for myself I realised how easy it had been to stick to a training plan when I had a 9am to 5pm job. I also coach a lot of athletes who work shift patterns, are on call so can’t predict their working hours, or of course have families that require attention.

Here are some simple strategies that I’ve found helpful to keep some consistent training.


Plan your week ahead working out what a rough ideal plan for each day would be. Then, plan each day ahead and organise your kit in advance.

Make it easy

Make it easy for yourself as possible. Do any decision making and thinking in advance so that you’re reducing the mental load for when you actually have to do a session. This is one of them main benefits of working with a coach or following a training plan is that it takes the thinking out of it so you can just get on and enjoy your training.

Purpose of training

Know what workout you’ll do and why. Eg how long the training session will be, how far, how hard, how many reps etc.


Know which sessions are a priority and get these done first.

Kit bags

Have a kit bag packed and in your car or at work ready for any possible option of training. It also helps to remove any excuses. I have a different kit bag for each sport and have lots of standard items already packed. My swim hat and goggles never leave my swim bag. I have a specific drinks bottle for each bag along with a set of toiletries (shower gel, hair brush, deoderant etc). My other top tip is the £1 coin for your locker!

Prepare in advance

Get your kit ready in advance to make it easy on yourself! Pack your bag the night before. I do yoga early in the morning and having it all laid out the night before makes a massive difference for getting to the session. I am also lucky enough to be able to leave my bike on my turbo set up and ready to go which makes for a lot less faff for doing a workout.

I make sure I charge everything at the end of a session so there’s less excuses when I’m trying to do a session. I also have water bottles specific for the turbo session, kept in a specific place to help make it easy .

Have a flexible training plan

Be flexible and swap your sessions around if you need to.

Avoid rigid thinking

Identify any rigid and limiting thinking patterns that get in the way e.g. I can’t start a training session after 7.30pm at night (one of mine), I can only swim in the mornings (another one of mine).

Be Creative

Think creatively for solutions. I had a client that worked shift patterns including night shifts. The only time he could fit a long ride in was starting at 9pm at night (which fit in with his sleep patterns). He identified a well-lit route, got some quality lights and high visibility clothing and road laps on his bike for 4 hours.


Identify a range of different options for training sessions and have them at the back of your head ready to pull out the bag when you need them e.g. your turbo set up in case it’s too dark by the time you get home, have a run from work at lunchtime if you’ve got a long day, a list of different pools nearby and their time tables, run from work, etc.

Route Planning

Plan some routes in advance from places you are likely to be e.g. your work base or hotel if you’re travelling. Or if you don’t have time for this, then run laps out and back from your hotel or location E.g. 10min out, 10min back repeat the same direction, or different directions. Vary the out and back depending on your sense of direction and easy of navigating.

Get it done early

Train first thing in the morning before anything else can get in the way.

On the way home

Take your kit to work and do your session on the way home and before you get back to your house. For me going home after a work often results in a cup of tea, a few household chores and a bit of chat and relaxation. And would always make it harder to go for a training session. I’ve sometimes got changed into my running kit at work and gone straight to a park to start a run bypassing a stop at home.

Adjusting sessions

Figure out how to adjust the sessions if you’re short of time or things don’t go according to plan– e.g. to go shorter/harder/less reps/do a technical session if the pool is too hot/too busy. Remember it’s usually better to do something rather than nothing.

Time management

Sometimes it’s worth taking stock to see if there is anything you can do to improve your time management strategies

If you have an unpredictable schedule how do you manage to fit your training in? Do share your tips and strategies and we can update the list.

If you need help to make your training more effective then get in touch to find out how my coaching services could help. You can book in for a FREE Let’s Chat or send me a message. 

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I’m Penny. I’ve been taking part in triathlon for 18 years and I’ve completed 7 Ironman distance races. I’ve helped countless athletes train towards their first and their 10th Ironman.  If you’re curious about how triathlon coaching could help you then why not book for a FREE Let’s Chat to find out more.