Training time is a limited and precious resource for triathletes. We all work hard to establish schedules, ensure they are sustainable, and then follow them with reasonable consistency. Discipline is one big key to success.
Flexibility and adaptation are also helpful when it comes to meeting the training demands we place upon ourselves. The ability to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together, and then start moving those pieces around while keeping the picture the same becomes a very useful skill. One way to efficiently complete training is to combine it with other tasks.
My training partner and I have one very effective means of doing just that. We bike to work when we can. For me, that ride is about 30 miles each way. With a bit of planning, I can fit 60 miles of training into my schedule, and save a lot of time in the process. It is something to consider if you find yourself trying to make too much training fit into too few hours.
The biggest benefit I gain from biking too and from work is time. On a normal day, it takes me roughly 45 minutes to drive to work. If I have a morning training, I have to complete the session, shower, get dressed, and make that drive. If I ride my bike to work, it takes about 90 minutes. However, 45 of that is pure savings, because I would have been driving that long, regardless. The same applies to the ride home. A total of three hours of biking is accomplished in essentially 90 minutes, because the other 90 minutes would have otherwise been wasted behind the wheel of a car.
Now, for those of you who feel there is also a financial savings because I saved some gas, let me slow you down, a bit. Let's say I get roughly 30 miles to the gallon. I would use two gallons of gas, round trip, or about $6.20 at current prices. While that money is definitely saved, we must then consider other fuel that WAS used. First, I went through four bottles of Gatorade. While I use powder mix, Gatorade costs about $1.25 a bottle if bought ready made. However, we look at it, I'm about $3.00 in for drinks. Two Gu gels at about $1 each. Extra snacks to the tune of about $1.50, which only begins to cover the calorie deficit from three hours of biking. All totaled, the cost of fueling my body easily exceeds the cost of gas for my vehicle.
In the end, two things motivate me to make these round trips on my bike. First, I can accomplish training in what is essentially "free" time. Second, I can complete some solid training with my co-worker/training partner. Those two things together make it worth the effort.
So, the next time you're struggling with how to fit all the training hours into the day, consider how you can make workouts part of your daily routine. It mixes things up, and might just save you some time, too.