3 Tricks Triathlon Transitions Teaches You about Life

It’s another one of those days. Get up, throw on some clothes, choke breakfast down, get to gym/pre-work commitments, rush to first meeting (just made it!), and the load starts piling up. No chance for a breather. Lunch-time and you’re starving – but coffee, coffee, coffee! Every corner you turn means another ten-minute discussion, walking meeting, or crisis control. Getting back to the desk is your only focus, but at the same time there’s no energy left, plus all you can think about is dinner.

All smiles during our morning trail run on the game farm – #havenolimits

Before we get into solving this problem, this is the final installment of the triathlon training camp hosted by Infinitude Coaching during December 2018. It’s day 4. Two workouts left to do and a long-distance Skype call scheduled with Kurt Madden (Ironman Legend, Coach & TriDot Coach based in the USA). He shared some valuable insights about preparation and nutrition before, during and after training/races.

Lily, the Huntress (wire-haired terrier), leading the way through the game farm

We began with a  beautiful trail-run through the game farm, encountering zebra, blesbok, and even giraffes. I was guided on my route by Lily, see image. I must say, considering the extreme week we had been through, I was pleased with a solid 10km with about 245m elevation gain.  I’m a sucker for the trails. The rolling hills, immense beauty and diverse terrain in South Africa is incredible, and helps me push my limits. I am thankful for these moments.

All set for the brick sets (featuring Infinitude’s mascot, #NovaStar)


We had a splendid breakfast and about an hour and a half before hitting-up our final session for the week. The Brick Sets. We knew about this in advance, but nothing could have truly prepared us. Oh, right! A brick set is to simulate the transition from bike to run during a triathlon. In a transition, there are certain rules to adhere to (like the fact that your helmet must be on before you take your bike off the rack and until you have racked it again) and certain personal requirements when it comes to nutrition.


Pushing hard on those trainers… with some motivation on the handle-bars! Go, go, go!

The set was as follows:

  • 10 min steady warm-up on the trainer (bike)
  • Main Set (3 Rounds):
    • 35 min on the trainer at Zone 4 Heart Rate
    • 15 min Out & Back Run (steady & strong)
    • 5-10 min Rest
  • Stretch it out afterwards


Coming back to those hectic days How can we reduce the load on such days? We never meant to oversleep or take longer to tie our shoelaces. But it happens on occasion and we need to accept it. Here are 3 tricks I’ve learnt from triathlon that help me with every-day life:

  1. Preparation is Key

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Yes, you’ve probably heard this before. When it’s 10pm and you’re exhausted but haven’t set your alarm for your optimal wake-up time tomorrow, you might start-off on a bad note. Maybe you put your shoes/keys in the living room and they’re usually on your bedside. You’re going to end up rushing. It’s important to identify what you can prepare for and what you can’t (see the table below for some examples). Those you can’t prepare for shouldn’t stress you out, nor make you feel guilty. Take a breather and stay in control.

  1. Whatever you do – don’t panic!

It’s difficult to make decisions under pressure. Especially when the entire day is made up of decisions and helping others to make the best decisions for them. Eventually, it’s just stress, fatigue and caffeine talking and who knows how valuable that is. Panic is a normal response when we’re in overdrive. That doesn’t mean it’s conducive to a positive outcome. Get your head straight before making critical decisions. (Take a look at the brackets in the table with some perspectives to help you keep calm.)

  1. Be Consistent

Try not to contradict yourself. If you know that a carbohydrate-protein mixture works for your body towards the end of the day (or in the middle of a long race), then have that. You will feel rejuvenated because you’re giving your body (a) what it needs and (b) what its used to… hence, a carb-filled, greasy doughnut will probably not do the trick. It’s not just about the nutrition though. When making decisions, it’s important to have policies in place that keep them consistent once the fundamental principles are there. Next time something similar happens, you can make the same decision. (Practical tip: Have a notebook handy where you write down these important things. You may only go back to it in 6 months, but it’s valuable information about yourself that will optimize your life.)

Pre-Skype with Kurt Madden (ironically, we spoke mostly about nutrition… and did we enjoy the coffee and banana bread!)
Can prepare for: Can’t prepare for:
  • Daily Routines (keep things in the same place)
  • Things that break in the process (sometimes it’s just an old pair of pants and it rips – it’s not the end of the world)
  • Meals and snacks (you don’t have to eat anything that makes you bloat, nor do you have to starve)
  • Food that goes off, fruit that gets squashed, or messing food on your clothes (keep a spare change of clothes in the car/bag, even if it’s not quite your best shirt)
  • Topics you’d like to discuss in meetings or emails (make sure you’ve got the facts straight, rest on the facts, and communicate the message as clearly as you can early on in the day)
  • Reactions of others towards you, as well as situations arising around you (if someone shouts at you or threatens you doesn’t mean you need to do the same – take a breath, you’re in control of you)

Life is full of transitions. From morning to night, outfit 1 to outfit 3, and friend to friend. The smoother we can make those transitions, the healthier our relationships with ourselves, our friends and families, and the wider web of the world. In addition, we’ll experience physical well-being that transcends our former expectations.

A magnificent sunset to end off the week!
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