Sarah Crowley being interviewed after crossing the line

Ironman Pro Sarah Crowley's 9 Tips for Triathlon Training During Busy Times

Whether it’s the holiday season, a hectic period at work, or you simply have a year-round jam-packed schedule, triathlon training during busy times can be tough to keep up with.

Nobody knows this better than professional triathlete Sarah Crowley, who used to work full-time as an accountant while chasing her dreams of competing at the highest levels of the sport.

We interviewed Sarah to learn how she juggled a job and a personal life--all while training to become a professional Ironman athlete--and what tips she would offer to people looking to find balance in their own triathlon journeys.

Sarah Crowley wearing FORM swim cap and smart swim goggles in the pool swimming

9 Tips to Keep Up Triathlon Training During Busy Times

While those challenges might seem like a lot to juggle, they don’t have to be. Sarah has nine tips that will help make triathlon training during busy times a whole lot more manageable.

1. Train When It Fits Best in Your Day

“One of the most important things you can do is to plan your training for when you have the most control over your schedule.

Personally, I used to make the mornings a priority because I knew when I could start, and I knew how much time I had before I had to get to work. I was also aware that my workday might go late and I’d run out of time for training afterward.

So, it’s smart to figure out where your training fits best into your days and then schedule it based on that.”

2. Give Yourself More Time

“When deciding how many months to dedicate to training, you’re better off giving yourself more time and keeping it consistent to make sure there are no holes in your program.

While you might not want to train for four months straight and you’d rather only train for two months, giving yourself a longer window means you have more flexibility and more time to build up your strength and endurance. So, you might actually get better results--and feel less stressed about your training--if you give yourself a longer ramp-up period.”

3. Start with a Manageable Race

“With triathlon as a sport, there’s no big rush to do Ironman from day one. Some people go big for their first race, but you don’t need to do that. Your best bet is to start with something manageable and figure out how it fits into your life and then move up once you’ve got a feel for it. If you’re already busy and you suddenly take on this huge training load when you’ve never done it before, you might be in for a shock.”

4. Add In Smaller Races to Stay Inspired

“Training non-stop can feel like a grind. And when you’re months away from your big race, juggling a jam-packed schedule, it can be easy to feel like you have tons of time and to skip out on your workouts. So, I recommend adding some smaller races throughout your season to keep you accountable. It’ll also give you something to look forward to.”

5. Prepare Meals in Advance (And Make It Simple)

“The energy requirement to train for a triathlon is huge. And finding time to cook when you’re already busy can be a burden.

Preparing your meals in advance so you can grab them and go will save you a ton of time and help you stay on track. Lunch is especially important because it can be easy to fall off your training diet at work, so having those ready to go is important.

I also recommend keeping your food simple and knowing what you’re going to be eating for the week, so you’re not wasting time thinking about it or roaming around a grocery store.”

6. Communicate Openly With People

“Juggling triathlon training with your social and work obligations can be pretty stressful. The best thing you can do is to communicate with the people in your life about what you’re doing and why, as well as what it’s going to require of you. That goes for family, friends, significant others, and work because your training commitments impact other people too.

But in my experience, people are always pretty amazed when they find out you’re training for a triathlon and are generally understanding of you doing what you have to do.”

7. Find Nearby Training Venues

“Save time and make your training convenient by finding venues that are close to where you live or work. It’s worth paying a little bit extra for a pool that’s near your office or a gym that’s right near your house.”

8. Keep Spare Gear With You

“I can’t stress enough how important it is to have extra gear with you wherever you’re at. I always keep a wet kit in my car with a helmet, bike shoes, runners, or swimming gear. You don’t want to find yourself with the opportunity to train and not be able to do it.”

9. Follow a Training Plan

“Take the guesswork out of your training and follow a designated training plan. This gives you visibility on what’s coming and lets you plan your training schedule to be as efficient as possible. It’s also nice to know when you’re going to have a big training day, so you’ll be able to gauge your energy level for other things.

If you’re working full time, it’s smart to take advantage of FORM’s workout plans because then you can set them for the week ahead, which ultimately helps with that scheduling piece. This will also help you keep a similar schedule each week so that you’re not changing things up and having to reinvent the wheel all the time.”

10. Believe In Yourself

“I find it amazing what people are capable of when they really want to achieve something. You need to believe you can do it. And if you believe that, then you’ll find a way to make it happen.”

FORM smart swim goggles and swim app

Make Your Triathlon Training More Efficient with FORM

Training for a triathlon is a time-intensive undertaking. But with the right guidance and structure, you can make it fit efficiently into your schedule—and that’s where FORM comes in.

With FORM, you'll swim with real-time metrics right there in your goggles. Plus, get a free 1-year membership and boost improvement in the pool with 1,000+ workouts, 30+ training plans, and a custom workout builder.

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Already have FORM goggles, but don’t have access to our full range of features? Head to the FORM app to start a 30-day free membership trial*.

*30-day free membership trial is only valid for one-time use for new members who have previously purchased FORM goggles.