Tim Don on how he manages his training time

Tim Don explains how he manages his training time with hints and tips for age-groupers

Credit: Korupt Vision

Personally, I just love routine week in, week out. It really gives me a good rhythm and a sense of knowing what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. Some might think that’s boring but I bloody love it. Ha!


 Plan around the swim

Let’s start with swimming. Most people’s training will be governed by pool time. You’ll be glad to know that even as a pro, it’s hard to get a nice quiet lane to myself. But then as I swim with a squad in Loughborough times are usually set. Around that I plan all my other training – oh, and some days around the school run for Matilda and Hugo, my two kids.

On the whole, I swim early doors. Well, not crazy early like I used to but about 7:30-9am, so I get up at about 6:45am for a double espresso and sometimes a small snack. I head to the pool and am on deck by 7:15am. If I’m any later than that, we have to do the warm-up in the public lanes, which can be quite funny!

Out of the water and then it’s home for breakfast – normally some Special-K and another coffee with a large glass of water, often with an electrolyte tab in as well, especially if it’s hot. Then I chill until about 11:30am and head out for a bike anywhere between 60mins easy up to 5-6hrs, but often with some form of efforts in there as well, from 20sec max sprints to 45mins @ level 3 or sweet spot x3.

Fuel smart

Sometimes I roll out with [fellow pro] Will Clarke (he’s always late!) otherwise on my own or with Matt [Bottrill] my bike coach. Then I have lunch – the bigger the session, the bigger the lunch – which is normally a three-egg omelette with some wholegrain toast, maybe a carrot and some Moroccan houmous (I bloody love that stuff right now) with lots of water and another coffee. After that, I either chill on the couch, catch up on emails or take our dog Mable for a walk, or sometimes I’m on the school run so off I go.

Once I’m home, it’s run time. I run anywhere from 10km easy up to 20km, often with some sort of session, whether it’s just 15secs on, 15secs off on the treadmill, or a 15km build run or some KM reps. It really depends on what time of year it is and when I’m racing next or what bike I’ve just done. On a Wednesday and most Saturdays, I normally do a run off the bike unless the ride is dirty, long and hard!

Not too late

I don’t like to train too late in the day, as having a young family I’m lucky I can be around most of the time and I’m an early-to-bed kind of guy too. It also helps to train early in the day as most of my 70.3 and Ironman races are early starts – it’s good for my body to be able to work hard early doors. I try to fuel well pre-, during and post-session and always think about what I have next on the cards so I can keep fuelled for that session as well. Again, in the bigger weeks, for me up to 30hrs hydration is also key and I need to stay on top of that throughout the whole day.

Get enough sleep

I know it’s hard to get a balance in if you have a full-time job, and maybe a family as well, so sometimes you have to train early and late. That’s tough and I’d struggle big time doing that. But it’s also important to get enough sleep and to try and not burn the candle at both ends. It’ll only end badly big time, either with injury, overtraining or getting fed up with training and triathlons – as well as being a grumpy pants!

Time management

I’m a big believer that once you miss a session, it’s gone. Don’t try to chase doing it and shift everything around so you can fit it in. If you have a coach, it’s important to let them know about all the other commitments and stresses in your life so they can best write a bespoke programme for you. That’s how I work with my athletes. Time management is key and will lead to a more consistent programme. And you know what they say: ‘Consistency is King’.

At the end of the day, it’s what works for you. There’s no secret formula or crazy midnight sessions that need to be done, just make sure you enjoy it (well most of it) and have fun along the way.

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