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Make the Most of Your Time

By Jason Pedersen | April 04, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

NAU Assistant Track Coach Jason Pedersen

In 2011 my goal was to transition to multisport competition from my college running career and earn my elite license. On July 11, I accomplished that by winning the age group race at the San Francisco Triathlon at Treasure Island. I jumped into two pro races near the end of the year and set my sights on racing my first full season as a professional triathlete. My 17th place at the Clermont Pan American Cup last month kicked off the 2012 season and now, a month later, you would think I am well on my way to a full schedule of races.

That couldn't be further from the truth, unfortunately. Like most of USAT's members, I have other things going on in my life besides triathlon: I am a second year graduate student studying Mechanical Engineering and an assistant track coach at Northern Arizona University. As the end of school year draws near, and the outdoor track and field season approaches the bigger meets of the year, no time remains for racing and the precious hours I devote to my training are threatened more and more every day. I know that to compete with the best in our sport, I need to be able to commit 100 percent of my time and energy, and that is exactly what I plan on doing. In about five more weeks, I will truly begin to live the dream, devoting myself to becoming one of America's top draft-legal triathletes. I will be moving back home to live with my tremendously supportive parents and will begin working full time with my coach Ian Murray.

Until then, I have to settle with juggling my other commitments. This means swimming or getting in a bike ride on the trainer at 6 a.m. before track practice starts at 8; squeezing in a few runs with the team when it's possible; using class and study time as opportunities to consume calories and recover/prepare for my next session; and limiting long rides outside to weekends without track meets. Such a schedule doesn't leave much time for the extracurricular activities my roommates and some of my other peers participate in, but sacrifices are nothing new to me. Competing for a successful Division I running program for five years, with three NCAA seasons each year, taught me how to stay focused on my goals when there is so much else going on around.

While I'm looking forward to moving home, I will miss Flagstaff (photo: Danielle Hunt).

For those of you that also have limited time available for training, here are a couple tips I try to follow myself.

  • Write down all your other commitments so you know what time slots you can regularly devote to training and share that with your coach. When I find myself with an extra hour or two, I often hit the trails for an easy run or take the bike out for a spin, but you can't count on those chance opportunities for good, quality sessions. Plan your hardest workouts for those regular time slots and use the less predictable ones for recovery.
  • Limit social hour at the pool to weekends. Swimming with U.S. Masters swim clubs has made a huge difference in my swimming, and the social aspect of having a team there with you makes it so much easier to jump in the chilly water early in the morning, but don't forget why you got out of bed at 5:30 to begin with. It wasn't to chat about last night's episode of Glee. Ironman champion Jordan Rapp has shown me over and over again how a few extra laps while waiting for the swim coach to finish talking with the other lanes can add up to several thousand meters in a week.
  • Have a few reminders of why you are living such a tough, regimented life. If you had all the time in the world on your hands, you could occasionally postpone workouts by a couple hours and still get the work in, but you don't have that luxury. When my alarm goes off on my phone every morning, it says "2012" to remind myself, I want to be good and there's no time to waste — 2012 is here.
  • Get a partner in crime. Well, at least an accomplice. Having an understanding significant other that supports your ambitions makes a world of difference. Always take them up on their offer when they ask, "Is there anything I can do to help?" But remember to thank them every day and do something special for them occasionally. (My favorite is a nice dinner at a good restaurant. Little does she know I'm enjoying the meal more than she is!)
  • It helps to have a light at the end of the tunnel. For me, that is May 12, the day I graduate and NAU's conference championships. For you, that might be your next big race, after which you can break the cycle a bit and catch your breath.

What obstacles do you have to overcome to reach your multisport goals?