Even though we are heading into the “off season,” this subject came up with a new member of Team NEO, so I thought I would revisit the topic of setting priorities with your training around the rest of your life.

Endurance athletes (especially triathletes) tend to lean towards the “Type A” personality.

From the business dictionary, a Type A personality is defined as:

 A temperament characterized by excessive ambition, aggression, competitiveness, drive, impatience, need for control, focus on quantity over quality and unrealistic sense of urgency. It is commonly associated with risk of coronary disease and other stress-related ailments.

Make note of the last sentence.

For comparison, the Type B is defined as:

A temperament characterized by moderate ambition and drive, accommodating attitude, cooperativeness, focus on quality over quantity and, in general, an easy going approach to life.

Granted, these are the ends of the personality spectrum, and I don’t believe they are mutually exclusive. We all exude characteristics of each to different extents. But if you fall more on the side of Type A, then issues can arise.

What I mean is that you like to jump all in to something. Learn it, master it. You are competitive (against yourself and/or others) and that drives you. Which also means that when you find something you like, such as running, cycling, swimming, or triathlon, other things get set aside, and that isn’t always a good thing.

My belief on a priority systems is as follows:

  1. Your health
  2. Your family
  3. Your job

1. Your health. This just means take care of you. If you are sick, don’t train. Pay attention that you are eating mostly whole foods (not processed) and that you are eating appropriately to support your activity level. Get enough sleep. One of the reasons you got involved in endurance sports is most likely to live a healthy lifestyle, so get bogged down into getting in every workout in your training plan if you health dictates otherwise.

2. Your family. This is your support system. If they aren’t out there training with you, don’t forget about their needs. Make sure they understand your training commitments and make sure your training commitments don’t get in the way of important family matters. They are your biggest fans.

3. Your work. We would all love to be independently wealthy, but we aren’t. So don’t let your desire to train compromise your work. In addition, it’s OK to skip a workout due to a work obligation. Your coach, if you have one, will understand.

You may set other priorities in there, but as you figure out your training and performance goals, take a look at what is required for your health, your family, and your job. Then you can set realistic training expectations.

And if you ever miss a workout, if it is for your health, family, or work obligations, skip it and forget it. Don’t look back, just continue on the plan. If you are missing several workouts a week for health or other obligations, you may need to review your training expectations or chat with your coach.

As I wrap up, let’s revisit the last sentence in the Type A definition ” It is commonly associated with risk of coronary disease and other stress-related ailments.” Don’t let training and a desire to do well completely stress you out. Endurance sports are to supplement a healthy lifestyle and make your experience on this planet more enjoyable. Keep it that way.


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Nicole Odell

  • Josh Winter
    October 1, 2012

    Thanks Nicole, because without the “important stuff” the training my not be possible anyway!