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Triathlon: Changing your life one hour at a time

Triathlon requires proficiency in three separate disciplines. However, finding the time to train is a challenge for anyone, never mind someone who works full time while juggling family commitments. But that extra hour in your day can be found more easily than you think. I’m going to show you how to overcome some popular excuses that stop people from changing their life one hour at a time.

No Time for Triathlon

I used to laugh at people who’d get up at 4:30am to go training. “You’re insane”, is a phrase that regularly popped out of my mouth. Yet I was also trotting out this little chestnut: “With work and kids, I just don’t have the time to do anything”.

So, how do all these other people do it? Are they all without kids, a demanding job, a house that needs cleaning and a family that’s high maintenance? Are they blessed with an extra 2 hours every day that I don’t know about? Do they also know where to find platform 9 3/4 to Hogwarts?

Every day as we go to work, walk the dog (which is exercise by the way), pass people in the street or sit next to people on the train we are inevitably seeing individuals who do in fact experience all these issues and many more on a daily basis. Yet some of them look really fit. How is this possible?

The answer is surprisingly simple

They set themselves a goal, and make the time.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “yeah sure, how do you just make the time?  It’s easier for them because ……. but but but ……..” Well, hold that thought and let me answer the question with another question:

“Could you find an extra 1 hour each day if your life depended on it?”

Ironically, in some cases this is exactly the scenario. You just need to tune into the Biggest Loser to see people who are inevitably saving their lives by doing just that. Of course this is an extreme example, but don’t underestimate the power that one hour each day can make to your life and wellbeing.

I recently met a single mum with 4 kids that trained for and completed an Ironman. An Ironman !!!! That’s a 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42km run. And let me be very clear that the event in itself was actually the easiest part of this whole equation. Training for something like that takes hours and hours out of every week just to get to the start line. Take a few seconds to think about the logistics she faces every day. I know I did.

So how do YOU do it?

In a lot of cases, it all happens in the wee hours of the morning before the rest of the world awakens. I personally exercise in the morning as I find it an amazing way to start the day. Despite getting out of bed at “insane o’clock”, it jump-starts my day by giving me a sense of achievement before most people have even opened their eyes.

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Of course, that doesn’t always suit everyone’s circumstances. But luckily, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

Excuse Busting – Breaking down the Fortress

Success is often guarded by a fortress of excuses.

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else. – Benjamin Franklin

How we overcome these excuses defines how we live our life. Getting started isn’t easy, and it takes commitment and perseverance to develop habits. So to help you get started I offer you the following ways to overcome the top 4 excuses that hold people back from changing their life one hour at a time.

#1: Work is too busy

Excuse busting tips:

  • Block out specific times during the day for exercise
  • Prioritise your work and ask yourself “will any small children die if I went for a run instead of doing this other task right now?” How important is it really?
  • Renegotiate delivery times
  • Even on the busiest days you can still aid recovery by stretching regularly, wearing compression socks under your trousers and using a spikey rolling ball on your feet under the desk
  • Schedule walking meetings instead of sitting meetings
  • If you’re the boss:
    • learn to delegate and empower your team
    • ask your PA to keep these times free
    • set a healthy example for your team

#2: There are just not enough hours in the day

Excuse busting tips:

  • Incorporate exercise into your commute to and from work. Drive part of the way and ride or run the other part. Park near a train or bus station so you can get back to your car in the afternoon
  • Go for a run or a swim during your lunch break
  • Go to bed one hour earlier and wake up one hour earlier
  • Do something immediately after work before you settle in to watching the next episode of Game of Thrones
  • Schedule time on your weekends – do something with the kids or put aside one or two hours just for yourself. My introduction to running was Parkrun every Saturday morning.

#3: It’s so hard to get out of bed in the morning

Excuse busting tips:

  • Take a long hard look at your habits and identify trade-offs.
  • I was a TV addict. I used to watch every series, every night and regularly stay up late. I decided that my health was more important than knowing whether the Mentalist eventually caught Red John. I started reducing the amount of TV I watched and began waking up one hour earlier. Initially this was just for 2 days a week, but over time this became a daily habit.

#4: It’s difficult to keep motivated

Excuse busting tips:

  • I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I encourage you to join a group, a club, a team or exercise with a friend, your wife or the kids. We all need help to keep motivated and nothing does that better than introducing “obligation”
  • Pay your coaching fees up front. I don’t know about you but the thought of wasting my money is a huge motivator
  • Schedule a future event. Nothing keeps you honest like an impending deadline
  • Keep your shoes next to your bed so they’re the first things you see in the morning
  • My first running group was a free group of people that met twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30am for an hour. If I didn’t turn up I felt like I was letting other members of the group down

Above all, start slow and work towards developing habits. Try Parkrun once a week for the first few months while you get used to running and building your fitness. Begin by walking most of it, then slowly build up the distance you’re able to run each week. Once you’re running the whole way you might even consider riding instead of driving to the start line.

Triathlon is about changing your life one hour at a time and overcoming excuses. It’s about commitment and developing lifelong habits that will not only make you healthier, but also happier.

So take that first step and offer no excuses. A one hour workout is only 4% of your day. Set your alarm for one hour earlier tomorrow morning and go for a walk. Once you give it a go you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve. Maybe one day we might even be on the start line of an ironman together.

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