Having returned from the European Championships in Geneva this summer, Sue's back in her GB tri suit this month when she heads to Chicago for the Age Group World Championships.
We asked her to share her top 5 tips for finding the motivation and time to train for these events.
Tip 1 – get your workout done early…
The only way I can be sure to get in enough hours training is by getting up very early and training most mornings before work. If I manage to do a second session in the evening that’s a bonus, but I find it much harder to motivate myself to train after a day in the office.
It’s never pleasant dragging yourself out of bed before 6 am (especially when it’s cold and dark outside), so I often have to remind myself that I’ve never regretted a workout when it’s finished.
The only sacrifice is heading to bed at least an hour earlier each night - so no more News at Ten.
Tip 2 – it’s all about planning and preparation
Take the time to plan your week’s training sessions, allocating specific sessions each day and making a note in your diary. This approach means you’ll be much more likely to complete your workout than if you just say ‘I’ll see if I fancy a run this evening after work’…
And if you’re going to exercise in the morning, make sure your kit’s COMPLETELY READY the night before. This means all you have to do is fall out of bed and get dressed without engaging your brain. Similarly, if your kit bag’s in the car with absolutely everything you need for a workout, you’re more likely to go to the gym, track or pool on the way home. Invest time in getting everything ready the day before.
Tip 3 – Set goals
Personally, I need a really challenging goal to keep me motivated. Over the years I’ve found that exercising ‘to keep in shape’ isn’t enough of a motivation for me to keep active on a consistent basis, even when I'm lucky enough to have access to some fantastic gyms and health clubs.
Taking up triathlon gave me some huge goals to train for and knowing I have a qualification race or a championship race in the months ahead provides a fantastic focus and the continual motivation to train hard.
So first of all, sign up for a motivating challenge – a half marathon, sportive, 10k, triathlon or Spartan Race – and then make sure you have a second event in your calendar so that you stay motivated when you’ve completed the first!
Tip 4 - Join a club (or two)
Being part of a club means you have all the social benefits of training with others along with the expertise of coaches. Regular scheduled sessions throughout the week also mean you’re less likely to back out and miss them.
As well as being a member of a local triathlon club, I’m also a member of Windsor Swimming Club. Training with the Masters Swim Squad means lots of early mornings, but at least you get the space to swim properly in the pool without having to dodge members of the public, and I work much, much harder within an organised session that I would do when I swim alone in the pool.
Tip 5 – Involve friends and family
I regularly train with friends – meeting them for lake swims, bike rides and gym sessions. It’s so much more fun to share a workout with good company and knowing you’ve made the commitment to meet others means your much less likely to back out if the weather’s bad or you’re feeling tired. If think of training as a 'social activity to catch up with friends' it feels much less arduous too.
Training for over 12 hours a week does mean I sometimes miss out on family time, especially at weekends when I will try to do a longer bike ride.The ideal solution is when my daughters or husband join me for a lake swim, ride, run or a workout in the gym. Makes me feel a bit less guilty if I can combine ‘being a mum’ with training for my events.