Discipline, structure and routine are important ingredients of training for a triathlon, running race or swimming event. It also helps to be a bit obsessive! Without being obsessive I’d never have made it to a 5 mile run never mind an Ironman. It’s the obsession that helps to keep me following the plan.

But when does it become unhelpful and start holding you back? Are you so disciplined and structured that when life throws a curve ball you don’t know how to be flexible and adapt so it gets in the way of your training.

Here are a few examples that crop up in my own training and household as well as some examples I regularly see in my clients

  • I over sleep by 15min and don’t make it to the pool for my usual 7am swim so I don’t go at all. Personally I always feel better if I get up and go even 15min late and do a slightly shorter swim.
  • The event you were training for gets cancelled, so you stop training completely and probably end up feeling pretty shit. Of course this has been a common one for 2020 but I’ve seen lots of my clients adapt and take on virtual challenges or organising a DIY race on their own and with friends.
  • I usually swim in the mornings first thing. This is usually the best time to swim as the lanes are out and pools are full of other regular swimmers who know a bit of lane etiquette. But I often teach first thing in the morning and in the early days I’d just end up not doing my training because it’s just not the same if you swim at 11am. I eventually learned to be flexible and swim at different times of day according to my work life.
  • The pool you usually go to is closed so you don’t swim. But there are plenty of other pools you could go to as a one off. One of my clients had a small pond at the end of his garden and with a combination of swimming on a bungee and short repeats got some training.
  • The covid lock down in the summer affected lots of my clients. In particular in Ireland there were restrictions on how far you were allowed to travel from home and coupled with kids being off school training was complicated. One of my clients ran 5km round her garden!
  • You only ride on Sundays and the weather is terrible so you don’t ride at all because you hate the rain. Instead of finding an alternative plan such as using the turbo doing a mixture indoors and outdoors or riding on a different day.
  • You don’t train after 6.30pm because it’s too late (for what exactly?). You don’t ride on the weekend after 11am as there’s nothing of the day left. Since my better half started working irregular shifts we’ve busted all these myths and started training at all sorts of crazy times.
  • Your plan said to run for 90min but you feel terrible. Are you flexible enough to give yourself break and take a rest? Or try for a shorter run? Or do you battle through it and feel even worse or give yourself an injury.
  • My power metre is broken so I can’t possibly train without it. When actually it would be really good for me to do a session without it and learn how to push without the numbers. But also what how would I manage if this happened on race day?
  • I’m injured so I don’t train at all. Because what’s the point if it’s not a proper session and there’s no point making my injury worse. But there’s usually something you can do when you’re injured. I always feel better when I do something even if it’s aqua-jogging.

Let me know if you relate to any of those things and how being obsessive or adaptable shows up in your life.