Triathlon training on holidays is a challenge. Going on a family holiday is always a nice idea, but when you have a race or event coming up, it might seem a little daunting. You want to keep fit, without sacrificing time with your family. Its a balancing act, but it is possible to do both if you take some time to plan it out.

Set the priority

How you decide to schedule your training whilst on holidays will ultimately depend on your priorities. If you have an upcoming event, you need to consider what is more important to you right now. If your race/event is your priority, I recommend you plan your holiday around your training schedule. Take your holiday at a time where your training block is less intense and less time consuming.

If taking a family holiday and ‘time out’ is your priority, plan your events and training around your holidays. Perhaps you could combine both. You can complete the event and then continue on holiday with the family afterwards.

Continue training by increase intensity and reducing time.

Unless you have a lot of time that you wish to dedicate to training whilst on holidays, I recommend that you plan for higher intensity short sessions. You could consider HIIT training. Better yet have your recovery phase of training (i.e. lower intensity, shorter duration and more ‘rest days’) whilst on your holiday. If you don’t have a significant event in mind, in a building phase, or simply ‘training for life’ you can enjoy your holiday and keep up your training if you plan ahead.

Tell your coach about your holiday

If you have a coach or personal trainer tell them about your holiday! This took a long time for me to learn myself. I would go on holidays without letting my coach know, and try to fit everything in that I usually would. Lets just say it is very difficult to take a 3 hour ride in a city, especially when you don’t know the bike tracks…I told myself that I should be able to find a way to complete my training plan regardless of if you are on holidays or not.

I know now that when my coach knew about my holidays he was able to customise my training plan accordingly without sacrificing any progress. Your holiday may be an excellent opportunity to focus on a particular component or skill set such as strength/conditioning, or one particular discipline if you are a triathlete, for example. If your coach is unaware of the holiday, the equipment you will have available, and how much time you have to train, it is impossible for them to give you a manageable program.

Letting your coach know these things in advance will allow them to tailor the program both leading up to the holiday and during the holiday. Informing your coach will give you a much better chance of completing all of your sessions and still enjoying your holiday without feeling stressed or guilty that you haven’t stuck to your program 100%.

Consider the Environment and resources available

Use your environment to your advantage.  Have a hilly terrain at your fingertips? Use it! Hill reps are fantastic ‘short sharp sessions’ that you can get over and done and enjoy the rest of the day with the family. Bush walking / hiking is a lovely way to explore your surrounds whilst exercising. Depending on who you go with you can make sure you still get a great workout. Run ahead – then back to your group if they are slower paced walkers. Carry babies/toddlers in baby carriers – the added weight will increase strength.

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Access that gym! Even if you don’t normally lift weights, most gyms will have both cardio and strengthening equipment. If you have never lifted weights you may like some guidance, and starting in an unsupported environment is not recommended. If you know how to safely lift weights, and its just been a while, perhaps your holiday is a good time to take the opportunity to revisit the dumbbells, though its important that you don’t go too hard too soon.

Try something new! Look for things like beach yoga, stand up paddle boarding or even park run in a new city / town. Part of the fun of keeping fit on holidays is exploring what that city has to offer. Spend a little bit of time researching before you leave, so that you know whats on offer when you get there. That way you can spend time enjoying these things, rather than investing precious holiday time researching.

A note on holiday nutrition

On holidays it’s likely that your eating out more often than usual and perhaps indulging in some food and drink that you wouldn’t ordinary have. That is OK! You should enjoy it! However, you don’t want to get home and find that your health and fitness goals have taken a huge backwards step because you were not at all mindful of your health during that holiday. Simple ways to be more mindful about nutrition whilst on holidays are:

  • Set yourself a goal before you depart. It may be something like “consume two healthy meals each day” where you allow yourself to have one meal each day where you indulge. It could be to have x amount of alcohol free days.
  • Adding healthy snacks. Try adding a variety of veggies to your cheese and meat platters..
  • Don’t overeat! Often we find ourselves saying “I have snacked so much that I couldn’t possibly fit in dinner” but then still go ahead and have dinner. Make a conscious decision not to overeat.
  • Aim to have one ‘home cooked meal’ each day. This could be a family picnic full of salads and fresh food. You don’t have to have cooking facilities.


Take the opportunity to either stop routine or STICK to routine

Whether you choose to stick to a schedule or would prefer a more ‘ad hoc’ style will completely depend on your priorities and what makes you happy. Sometimes as busy mothers what we actually crave is regular routine with our exercise..if this is you and you have plenty of ‘baby sitters’ take the opportunity to enjoy a regular scheduled session.  Alternatively let yourself have a holiday from your training routine. Mentally and physically this is essential at some stage. Holidays are the perfect time. Relax. You will.come back re-energised and ready to hit the ground running!!

Pack some tools

This might sound obvious, but I have forgotten many times in the past – pack what you need. Runners, exercise clothes, goggles and a cap… whatever it might be that you want/need to take and can fit into your luggage. If space is limited, there is plenty that you can do without any equipment at all. Ultimately holidays are meant to be enjoyed as is your training and racing, so however you choose to spend your holidays don’t sacrifice your happiness. You don’t want to become a ‘slave to your training schedule’. If you do you are likely to find yourself selling up all of your equipment or never renewing your gym membership because you lost motivation and enthusiasm. Choose to do whatever makes your holiday feel like a holiday.

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