• Can you be a triathlete in training and have a family holiday?

    Flickr Woman on BeachIf you’re serious about your triathlon training, then it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to take a two week break from it. Equally, if you’re going on holiday with a long suffering partner and potentially one, two or more children, it’s unlikely that it will be viewed as acceptable for you to maintain your usual training regime, particularly if you’re training for a standard or long distance and are putting in 8-10 hours training a week.

    So how do you balance a family holiday and training?

    Getting the destination right

    One suggestion is to opt for mixing a triathlon training holiday with your main summer holiday, but that idea does rest on having a VERY understanding family. A quick scout on the internet shows there are some locations that offer a mix of triathlon training alongside a more traditional holiday, but you do need to search quite hard to make sure you find something that will tick everyone’s boxes.

    Or you could opt for a less triathlon specific holiday but still go for a sports / active holiday. There’s a great active holiday resort in Lanzarote (Clublasanta) that offers access to over 40 sports, including aerobics, athletics, cycling, tennis, triathlon and much more. And as well as that it offers a playground, kids activities and kids clubs and entertainment.

    Fitness holidays are a big thing now, and whilst not all of them are child friendly, if you shop around you can find retreats in Ibiza, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and even St Lucia.

    At the right time…

    If you already know that the family are going to baulk at the idea of any kind of fitness based activity on holiday then you really need to ensure that you plan ahead and carefully work out how you’re going to balance your priorities.

    Ideally, schedule your holiday for a time when you are not in an intense period of training, so perhaps in the weeks directly after an event, or far enough in advance of your next big event that having a fortnight of less structured training is not going to throw you off course.

    If you’re following a training plan, then talk your holiday period through with your coach. They can find ways to help you adapt the plan so that it becomes more suited to being in a different environment and having less available time. They can also provide you with the reassurance you need that taking a break will not scupper your entire triathlon career!

    No one will notice – honestly!

    There are so many holiday destinations that are ideal for triathletes in training, and will offer you the chance for sea swimming, beach running and fabulous cycle routes. The biggest trick is to work out how and when you are going to carry out your training so that it’s not seen to be disruptive to the overall holiday ambience. If you holiday with late sleepers, then you will need to be the one up early and taking the sunrise opportunity to train. If your family are sun worshippers and likely to be lounging on the beach for hours, then you have the perfect chance to get in some serious swimming or beach running sessions. Think carefully about your timing, don’t go missing at key family times – eating breakfast and dinner together is a holiday luxury that not everyone gets to enjoy every day, don’t disappear just as the children all need bathing and putting to bed and certainly make sure that you are available to shoulder some of the holiday entertainment responsibilities – sand castle making, water slides, bombing in the pool etc!

    You can usually choose your nutrition

    It’s very easy to feel off kilter when your training schedule is up in the air, and a knock-on effect of this can be that you also start free falling with your nutrition. It’s easy to over indulge on holiday, but it certainly isn’t a necessity. Most holiday destinations are a mix of fast food or traditional fresh food, so make your decisions wisely. Fish, salads, fresh meat dishes and vegetables are likely to be readily available if you head to the more traditional restaurants (try and find out where the “locals” eat), whereas if you head for the “tourist” restaurants, you will find yourself living on pizza, fried dishes and a side of chips with everything.

    Keep your holiday in perspective

    Over and above everything else, it is important to take time to reward yourself with rest and relaxation. Even a full two weeks off will not ruin all your hard fought for fitness. And take a long hard look at your family – these are your supporters, your cheerleaders, the people that are there for you all the way through the season, so they also deserve a break and time away from the hectic schedule.