Ever wondered what a typical training day for an elite triathlete looks like? 37-year-old Lucy Gossage, pro triathlete, 6-time Ironman triathlon winner, part-time oncologist and Wattbike ambassador, gives us a glimpse into a typical non-working day. Spoiler: it’s busy.
MORNING = Swim training
I train 25-28 hours a week on average – less in the summer as I’m racing more. On a non-work day, I’m usually training at least twice a day, often three times a day, so these are my big training days. It tends to be: eat, train, eat, train, sleep!
On my non-work days, I usually get up and swim in the mornings. I’ll have a coffee and light breakfast – toast with peanut butter, usually (I’ll have a proper breakfast after). My swim varies but it’s usually around 4km/75 minutes, sometimes with a club, sometimes on my own. The session depends on the day, but I swim with friends if I can – I hate swimming on my own!
After swimming, I’ll have a proper breakfast – it’s always the same: two bits of toast, half an avocado, scrambled eggs, some spinach and a coffee. It’s my favourite. It’s pretty nutritious, has carbs, fat, protein, everything you need. Generally, if I’m doing a big ride I might not get to have lunch until 2pm/3pm, so for me, this is a bit better than having a bowl of porridge – it has a bit more to it. And I really enjoy it. Eating well is really important and I can’t always do this on my working days, so this is a treat. I think people are always amazed about how much I can put away!
MIDDAY = Long ride
On a training day, I’m usually out for a ride over lunch. On at least two days each week I do long rides over lunchtime, so lunch is around 3pm/4pm, or sometimes I’ll miss it and just have dinner.
A long ride will be 5 hours/6 hours, something like that – around 100 miles. I try and do at least one 5-hour ride a week (week-in, week-out). And I’m pretty good at getting that in.
I take snacks with me and I use High5 Nutrition, but if I’m doing a training ride I’ll often just eat what I fancy. If I’m doing a 5-hour ride, I’ll always treat myself to a petrol station stop after about three hours and get some chocolate. I don’t stop in cafes, but I do get about 10 minutes in petrol stations!
I love my Garmin Edge. They’re not a sponsor, but it’s quite fun because you can plot a route you’ve never been on before and navigate. That’s by far my favourite bit of kit.
AFTERNOON = Brick run
I might finish the ride at 3pm, and sometimes I’ll do a little jog off the bike for 25/30-minutes. I always do at least 3 miles – that’s the minimum. Then I shower, and if I can be motivated I’ll do a bit of stretching or foam rolling. I have a lot of massage tools that I use. I have a Power Dot Stimulator thing, so if I can’t be bothered to foam roll, I’ll just sit on the sofa with that more often than not!
After the long runs I’m pretty good at stretching. I try to do a yoga class once a week, so that gets it going.
I used to do five hours of each discipline a week, now I do four hours of each – I’ll do one long ride, one brick, one hard ride and then the other sessions fit in. I’ll do one long run – I don’t do any fast running. I make myself do a minimum of four swims, two gym sessions and I try to do a yoga class as well.
EVENING – Dinner and bed!
In the evenings, it’s usually ‘cook dinner, collapse on the sofa and fast asleep by 10 o’clock!’ I get really sleep-deprived on my work days, so on training days I need to prioritise sleep. I don’t have much of a social life! But I do try and make myself do something social once a week on a training day when I’m not working, because I think it’s important – you can’t just train.
Because both work days and training days are pretty full on, there’s not much time for relaxing. If I’m honest, it’s kind of sustainable for a few months over the summer, but not indefinitely.
As a fulltime athlete, I did chill out on the sofa and watch things, but now I’m back to working part-time there’s just not time really. There’s not time to binge-watch anything!
TRAINING ON WORK DAYS
On actual working days I’m in clinic for 8.30am, clinic starts at 9am, and quite often I don’t leave until 7pm. But it’s not the hours; work days are full-on days – there’s certainly not a lunch break.
On working days, I invariably train either side of work (morning and evening), so I’ll do a Wattbike session one day – fairly short, but pretty hard. Running’s good, as it’s time efficient.
I have to do the hard session before work because I can’t rely on a) what time I’ll finish work and b) how tired I am after work! [laughs].