My training schedule and tips for making it happen

This post is answering a reader question from last year’s survey. You can see more of my answers to reader questions here.

Could you share more of your training schedule and how do you and your partner manage to both train so much? For example we are 2 parents one kid (both working full time outside of our home) and find it difficult to train as much as we like as work or life gets in the way. I now train most of the times in the mornings!

I think this reader has already found the answer – exercise in the morning! That is certainly how I fit my training in.

I often say that I became fitter with each child I had. The correlation between the number of kids and the volume of exercise I did was that I increasingly valued some time to myself. When I am running or working out, no one is asking me questions, demanding something of me, I am investing in myself and the reaping the reward both in the short and long term.

Short term there is the endorphin release that give me that positive buzz and as we all know there are significant health long term health benefits from being active. And while these benefits are great, they are only part of the reason I am up very early in the morning.

I combine running and CrossFit into my training schedule, so have a combination of solitary and group exercise on a regular basis and I love this combo. I need and often crave the long runs to give me to time to think and be by myself. At my CrossFit there are an amazing group of people who regularly attend the 5.30am class who I consider to be great friends.

My training schedule varies on content and volume depending on whether or not I have an event coming up that I am training for. This year I have been focusing on running Spartan Races. If you haven’t heard of them Spartan Races are obstacle races of varying lengths and they describe them as being:

Spartan Race is for everyone and we are on a mission to get you active, healthy and excited about change. We aim to change people’s lives by cultivating an atmosphere of accomplishment by asking racers to lay their guts on the line and push their limits. {source: Spartan website}.

I ran a 14km Spartan in June and last weekend I ran my first Spartan Beast which was 21km with over 35 obstacles. It was held in Brisbane as was by far the funnest race I have completed. My training over the last few months has had this event in mind and it paid off. I came 6th in the Elite category with a time of 3:00:03 which I was super happy with.

I still have weaknesses to work on so will adapt my training schedule again to incorporate more skills training and down hill running in particular. My schedule will change a little as downhill running requires daylight and differing locations, I will have to find ways to move some of my running to times into different parts of the day – I will do an update if I manage to achieve that!

(either hill sprints or intervals)
(either hill sprints or intervals)
(between 90 - 180 mins)
Rest day
CrossFit CrossFit CrossFit CrossFit
Yin yoga
Spartan skills training

I aim to have one full rest day a week and one active recovery day, which would mean I either do a yoga glass or a specialised gymnastics class at my gym.

To be able to recover better, I have been very dedicated at getting to be earlier than I used to. For the last 18 months, it would be rare to find me out of bed after 10.30pm and I am regularly in bed before 10pm and with a much earlier night thrown into the mix somewhere too. Nutrition is also key, I need to eat a lot to support this level of training.

Please note that I am not advising anyone to follow my training schedule, I am just sharing it for information purposes only. You would need to ensure what ever exercise schedule you undertook was right for your fitness level.

The amount of exercise my husband undertakes changes significantly. For example when he was training for the Ironman (of which he wants to do another at some point), he was training as many hours as I was, which required significant planning of who was doing what.

Currently though he is in AFL football season with his local club and he is training two nights a week and is out all day Saturday from about 11am until 5pm. He also rides his bike to and from work most days.

This fits in okay with family life at the moment. On Saturday he has our two oldest sons with him, so it provides a great opportunity for them to spend time together.

Tips for making exercise happen

It is possible to fit exercise in when you have a family and you work. I am lucky as I have more flexibility with my work than most, but the bulk of my training occurs outside of work hours.

Here are my tips for fitting exercise in:

Don’t make excuses

This may sound harsh to some, but saying we don’t have time for exercise is just an excuse. We all have the same amount of hours in a day and it isn’t that we don’t have time, we are just choosing to spend our time elsewhere.

I watch no TV in the evenings so I can get to bed early so I can get up early in the morning to exercise. I make other choices like limiting the time I spend on social media so I can can get everything I need done in order to fit my training in. I am not saying that these are better choices – they are simply that – choices. Choices that I make so I can have the time to exercise.

Even if you cannot leave your house as you need to be there for the kids, there is always some exercise you can be doing whether it be in the evening or early morning when they are in bed. These posts have some great ideas for bodyweight exercises you can do at home:

Choose an activity you like

Running isn’t for everyone, CrossFit isn’t for everyone,  but there are so many dfferent physical activities you can do,. Enjoying exercise is incredibly important to me and the only reason I stick to my training schedule it because I like what I do.

Experiment until you find something you like. Exercise if you are working hard isn’t always fun at the time! There are definitely times when I am halfway through  a long run and I think “this is really sucking”, but on the whole I love it, so I ignore the bad days.

If you are in Melbourne here are a few places you might like to check out:

  • CrossFit Box Hill – this is my CrossFit gym and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. The coaching staff are fantastic and the community is brilliant. They offer a free trial class so you can check it out with no commitment. They are also kid friendly, with areas for kids to sit while you exercise.
  • Miss Spartan – a friend has recently started her own group training business located in a scout hall in Mont Albert. It offers boxing, Metafit and other group classes and currently has a 7 day free trial. It is also kid friendly.
  • Body Be Well – Diana and Ross are based in Malvern and do classes and both personal fitness and food coaching
  • Heart, body and soul – Jacqui runs Metafit classes in Glen Iris which are kid friendly (you can bring them along!).

Chore to a choice

If you subscribe to the Planning With Kids newsletter, you will have read my thoughts on this last week. If not you can read it online here.

It is summed up well in this interview with author Charles Duhigg in 800-CEO-READ:

“The key to self-motivation is realizing two things: First, to trigger the parts of our brain associated with motivation, we need to feel like we’re in charge. We need to feel like we have some agency and  control over our lives. That’s why making a chore into a choice is so powerful: Because it gives us a chance to assert our control. But control, on its own, often isn’t enough. It needs to be accompanied by a sense that we’re pursuing our deepest aspirations, our most important goals.

The way we achieve this is, oftentimes, by taking a moment to ask ourselves why we’re doing something—and how we can assert our sense of choice. ”

If you are struggling with exercise as you see it as a chore, switch your mindset. See it as making a positive life choice and something that is investment in yourself – not something that you have to do. While it sounds small, this small switch maybe all you need to get you out of the door.

Have a tangible goal

While we all know it is good for us to exercise, it isn’t always a tangible goal. Set yourself a goal with your training. It can be simple as moving from doing push ups on your knees to doing 10 full push ups in three months. It could be to go from running 3km to running 5km in a session in three months. Find one thing you can turn into a goal and make it measurable. Give your self something to work towards.

Goals are important to me and I find they give my training meaning. This year as I mentioned I have focused on completing longer distance obstacle races. This really helped give me new enthusiasm for my training, as I was finding I needed something extra to keep be enthused with my longer runs.

Reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule

This is a quote from James Clear and it is excellent advice that I follow:

On a daily basis, the impact of doing five sprints isn’t that significant, especially when you had planned to run 3 miles. But the cumulative impact of always staying on schedule is huge. No matter what the circumstance and no matter how small the workout, you know you’re going to finish today’s task. That’s how little goals become lifetime habits.

Finish something today, even if the scope is smaller than you anticipated.

There are days when things just don’t go to plan and the like. If for some reason I have had a really late night, I may only do 20 minute high intensity intervals instead of running for 45 minutes in the morning.

It is so much better to stick to the  schedule and stay in the habit of exercising, rather than thinking “I don’t have time to fit my training in so I will just skip it”. Something is always better than nothing.

What does your training schedule look like and how do you make it happen?