My goal for the last four or five weekends has been to clean my apartment. Each weekend I have really good intentions of getting this done after the long ride on Saturday, and then each weekend I put it off. I get home from the long ride feeling tired and hungry, so (of course) cleaning is the last thing that I want to do. I am not talking about normal everyday cleaning that needs to get done, but random tasks that stack up over time - cleaning the fan blades, hand washing my delicate shirts, dusting shelves, cleaning the shower, etc. And it's not just cleaning - it's making time to mail a birthday card, to call my grandparents, to respond to personal emails, to pay bills, to create a budget, to cook a healthy dinner, etc. Then you add the training tasks to the mix - washing water bottles, washing clothes, unloading your car, packing bags, unpacking bags, cleaning bikes, buying training nutrition. And the list keeps going!
I bring this up because I would consider myself an organized person...but all bets are off during a long training season! I've noticed that the longer my training hours get, the more disorganized that I start to feel. I have less time for myself and less time to get things done. Some of you are veteran triathletes and have already created systems to keep up with everything that training has to throw at you. But some of you are new to the sport and may find yourself falling into the same trap. Below are a few tips that I found helpful as I started to increase my training hours - I hope they will help you to stay organized!
Keep it in Your Car: Rather than keeping your gear in your house/apartment and remembering to pack it for every workout, keep it in your car. The best trick I found is to keep a bin or box in the back of your car for all your gear - bike shoes, running shoes, nutrition, extra water bottles, extra socks, extra tubes, etc. This method keeps everything organized in one place and really cuts down on your chances of forgetting anything.
Buy in Bulk & Get a Bowl: When I first started training, I would go to the store each week and buy enough gels, bars, etc. for that week of training. Half the time it would be Friday night and I would realize that I only had two gels left for the morning ride. My remedy for this was to start buying in bulk. I have a big bowl in my kitchen where I keep ALL of my nurition products (sort of like a trick-or-treating bowl for triathletes!). This way I never run out, I can easily see when my supply is getting low, and I can quickly grab and go.
Packing & Unpacking: As triathletes, we are constantly packing workout bags in the morning and unpacking them at night. I don't know of a great way to get around this process, but I have found that it is helpful to have one bag that you use all the time. I keep all the essentials in that one bag (brush, shampoo, towel, extra contacts, extra t-shirt, etc). This way I always know that regardless of what I may forget, I have the essentials with me (either in my bag or in my car). It also cuts down on the "Oh man, I left that in my other bag" syndrome. Making sure to unpack your bag as soon as you get home helps too, otherwise you will end up with five half-packed bags and won't be able to find any of your gear (umm, this one I can speak from experience).
Store in One Place & Buy Extras: The best examples I have for this are water bottles and socks. At one point, I was operating on a few good pairs of socks during the week. I was scrambling to find two that matched as I ran out the door and would end up all flustered over socks! Although it sounds (super) simple, I went to Target and bought a bulk bag of athletic socks. I put them all in one drawer and now I never run out...and I don't have to spend 10 minutes searching for a match because they are all the same! Same goes for water bottles. I bought a bin to keep under my sink for the bottles and a bowl for the caps. We all have what seems like a million bottles and caps, so this keeps them organized and easy to access.
Keep it Simple & Keep Perspective: The most important thing to remember is that you only have so much time during training season. Try to put these tasks into perspective and tackle them one at a time. Would I like to clean my fan blades on Saturday afternoon...yes. Does it really matter...no. Set one goal for the day and focus on getting that done. There is always something more that you can do, but don't let that get you down. Keep it simple!
I was talking with a friend of mine last night who is a professional triathlete and it was comforting to learn that she experiences the same struggles wtih organization during training. We are busy people with rigorous schedules, so it is important to find a system that works for you. I hope these tips will help you to stay organized - I know they helped me!