How to Train for a Half Iron Man While in Grad School

Monday workout:
Rest day

Tuesday workout:
Bike 1.5 hours (stationary), swim 40 mins

Training for a half ironman triathlon while in graduate school can be incredibly difficult.  Graduate school programs tend to produce many sleepless nights spent writing papers, long hours spent sitting in class and at a desk, and copious amounts of stress.  However, with some simple planning and multitasking prowess, you can help make your endurance training and grad school work complement each other.  Here are some suggestions that have worked for me.*

1. Get Extra Sleep

It is very important to get a lot of sleep when doing a strenuous training program.  Sleep helps your body repair and build muscle tissues and prepare for future workouts.  Since you probably aren’t getting a lot of sleep at night, take some time during your class lectures to catch up on sleep.  Your teachers won’t mind (and you won’t even notice their angry glares if your eyes are closed).

2.  Cross Train

Cross training is a great supplement to any training schedule.  After you’ve caught up on your sleep in class, try getting in some cross training exercises.  If you’re like me and are incapable of sitting still in a chair for hours on end, try doing some leg exercises.  Alternate pointing your toes down and up, or alternate squeezing your hamstring/glute muscles.  Pay no attention to the awkward sideways glance from the occasional confused student.  They clearly don’t understand that being a triathlete takes 24-7 dedication.

3.  Multitask

The gym is a perfectly acceptable place to do homework.  Take your reading with you to the gym and take notes while on the stationary bike.  I do not, however, recommend trying to take notes while you run.  Treadmills are easier to fall off of than stationary bikes.  Also ignore the weird sideways glances from other gym-goers when you drop your pen and fling paper clips across the room on several occasions.  Don’t let their snickering fool you, they’re happy for the entertainment.

4.  Multitask Some More

Use your time in the pool to plan out your paper based on the reading you just did on the bike.  Don’t worry if you keep forgetting how many laps you’ve done.  Every time you forget you just start at one again.  This plan ensures you will have a challenging workout.

5. Carb Load

Sugar and chocolate help relieve stress, and help the brain neurons fire so you will be able to pour those words onto the page when writing your paper!  Load up on lots of carby junk food to help carb up for your training sessions and relieve stress at the same time.  Chocolate chip cookies the size of your head are a great source of carbs.  Don’t worry if you feel like crud on your next training session, I’m sure it’s the fact that you weren’t sleeping enough in class, not that your veins are full of butter and sugar.  Revisit step 1.

6. Manage Your Stress

Stress can have negative impacts on your sleeping and eating habits, training schedule, and all-around lifestyle.  When you’re feeling like you have so much stress in your life that you can no longer handle it, just lie down and take a nap (or write a blog post about it).  Denying the things that are stressing you always works.  That paper will get done eventually.

*Please note that while I have in fact done some of these, that does not mean that I actually recommend them.  They are meant to be humorous.  Please do not try these at home;)!

Back to paper writing!

Any tips on managing stress?  Real or humorous are acceptable:).


About Erin @ untilyoutri

Runner, triathlete, food lover, and happy blogger!
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19 Responses to How to Train for a Half Iron Man While in Grad School

  1. I totally draft papers and plan meetings in my head while swimming. It’s when I get my best work done. And chocolate makes you swim faster. I’m proof.

    • Haha, it’s true! I didn’t add that running is also a GREAT stress reliever/time to get your thoughts/papers in order…only because that one is actually more of a REAL benefit than a humorous one;). And I have had some of my best runs after eating some Girl Scout cookies!! My swimming, however, is never fast…but that’s just because I suck at swimming:).

  2. I always love reading your posts. This one was so cute! I am having an all natural organic giveaway and I would love for you to enter. Have a great day!!

  3. 321delish says:

    haha this is great! Just think…once you are out the other side and actually DO have the time to train, you will be even more of a rockstar!

    • Haha, thanks! It’s true…I realize life is never perfect and I will never have unlimited time to train (unless maybe I win the lottery somehow), but I am looking forward to getting back into more of a manageable routine after school is over!:)

  4. wow great post; it must be sooo hard to balance training and school! I don’t know about multitasking while swimming but I’m all about the bike two-timing

    • I’m not gonna lie, it’s been REALLY stressful, but it’s been a good way to get me out of the house some and help keep my sanity (as crazy as that sounds, but working out does help me relieve stress:).

  5. Trisha says:

    I love this! haha! The biggest thing for me is taking breaks. I hate to do it…but I make myself. Sometimes just getting up and walking across the room, or leaving the room for 10 minutes to talk to someone. It really does help. Good luck!

  6. lindsay says:

    i think i would have ran into the wall if I thought about a paper while swimming. haha, i’m clumsy though. Nice work though!

  7. Karen says:

    My advice: do not decide to get a Ph.D. It prolongs the need for steps 1 through 6 🙂

  8. What a fantastic list Erin! I’m totally cheering you on as you train for your tri and PhD!! AMAZING!!!

  9. Lauren says:

    haha, I love it! I may or may not have used many of these steps when training for a marathon during grad school 😉 But I have to say – getting one sport in was hard enough – I can’t imagine fitting in 3 while also going to class, studying, etc! Good luck with the training!! …and class sleeping and cookie carbo-loading…etc 😉

  10. Haha! I totally used to study in the gym! Good stuff girl 🙂

  11. Pingback: Cookie Bars and Mud Excitement | You Don't Know Until You Tri!

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