It can be really hard to stick to a training programme when 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Be flexible and swap your sessions around if you need to.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Train first thing in the morning before anything else can get in the way.
  9. Know the purpose of each session and which sessions are a priority and get these done first.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.