Training for an endurance sport can be tough. This is especially the case for someone who works a full-time job that requires a lot of physical labor. This is because these jobs typically involve long hours, being on your feet for extensive periods of time, and likely involves heavy lifting.
Face it… that’s a workout right there. But by training smart you can still look to compete in a marathon, triathlon, obstacle course event, or other. Provided below are some simple tips for individuals working physically intense jobs and training for an event.
1. Try to get your workout in before going to work. Easier said than done especially, if you are working a pretty early shift (believe me… I know first-hand). But if you can make the sacrifice and wake up a little bit earlier, it will ensure that you get that workout in before your day. The odds of doing it after work when fatigued will likely diminish.
2. If you need to do it after work, try to do it immediately when you get home or even on your way home from work. Make sure you keep your workout kit in your car so you can go to the gym directly from work or if you workout at home have everything set up the night prior. This way it becomes part of your day, not in addition to it.
3. Keep your workouts brief and intense on the days you are working. Studies show that 30-45 minutes of higher intensity exercise can have the same benefits, if not better, than workouts longer than an hour. Save your ‘longer’ runs or bike rides for the days that you are off and can dedicate more time and energy to them.
4. Keep your workouts (especially strength and core) functional to the event you are doing. Squats, lunges, back and shoulder work are great. Don’t worry so much about the ‘pretty’ muscles like biceps and triceps… you’ll be getting those in with the bigger muscle groups.
5. Factor in that you will be getting plenty of cardio during the day with all the walking and climbing you likely do during the day at your job. Hint: if you want to sneak in additional core work while working, try the standing plank, essentially contracting your abdominal muscles for 10-20 seconds while upright, and then relaxing. Think about all the ab work you can get over an 8-hour span!
Hydration and Nutrition Tips
1.Ensure you are hydrating with plenty of water post workout and throughout the course of the day at work. Skip the sugary drinks like soda. For flavor, try a mix of seltzer water and your favorite juice. I like to go a 3:1 ratio of seltzer and either apple or cranberry.
2, Avoid temptation with getting greasy foods for breakfast or lunch. Try to meal prep as much as you can the day before or on the weekends. Limit yourself to one cheat day, but make sure the ‘cheating’ is in moderation… otherwise you are undoing all the hard work from your workouts.
3. Fruits and Vegetables. Now I’m guilty of not eating as many veggies as I should, but a good way to sneak it in is with super green powders that have most of the suggested daily intake of vegetables and fiber in a scoop. They actually taste pretty good and can be mixed in water or with the seltzer/water juice combo I listed earlier. I do this daily and I feel a huge difference in energy levels, performance, and maintaining my desired weight.
1. Set realistic goals for what you are looking to accomplish with the event you are training for. Whether you are looking to complete an event for the first time, or looking to improve on a past race.
2. Have a support network with your co-workers, family and friends. This will keep you accountable and honest with what you are looking to accomplish. Yes, you may get some jokes from co-workers, but your actions speak louder than words and when your co-workers and friends see you in action, you may even inspire them to try something new.
3. Lastly, ensure you still allot time for fun. Whether time with your family, going out for dinner or a movie with friends, etc. Make sure that you allow yourself to escape from just training and work so you don’t burn out.
Sean Begley holds a degree in Exercise Physiology, Health, and Nutrition. He is an advisor of UESCA and has competed in multiple endurance sports including three Ironman’s and multiple obstacle course races. In his free time from work, he loves hanging out with his daughter who wants to be an obstacle course racer and future ‘American Ninja Warrior’.