Beginners, Podcast, Time management

Time management and balance with Amy Farrell | EP#37

 July 3, 2017

By  Mikael Eriksson

Time management and balance with Amy Farrell | EP#37

Amy Farrell is a triathlon age-grouper like most of us, with a day job, family, and other commitments. Unlike most of us, however, she is an age-group Ironman world champion.

One of her keys to success is great time management, and finding the right balance between triathlon and other parts of her life.

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • Amy's tips for managing your time and finding time for both training and non-triathlon commitments
  • The importance of finding the right balance in life
  • A day in the life of Amy - what it contains and how she combines training, family, and her job hour by hour, black on white


Amy’s background​

04:05 -

  • Just turned 40, but started triathlon at 23.​
  • Kona was her first Ironman ever. She got blown off her bike but finished fourth in her age group.
  • Did Kona again the next year, and got blown off the bike again, this time with a DNF as a result.
  • She raced one year as a pro, got married, and then started a family and worked for several years and got away from triathlon.
  • In 2009, when the Ironman 70.3 World Championships started, she got back into triathlon and won her age group. 
  • Got out of the sport again, and then back into it to finish 4th in her age group in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas in 2012.
  • In 2013, she qualified for Kona and finished 4th in her age group.
  • The next year, in 2014, she won her age group.
  • In 2015, she won Ironman Lake Placid.
  • Last year (2016) she won Ironman North Carolina.
  • Currently she is qualified for Kona 2017.

Family and work

07:07 -

  • Amy is a physical education teacher in Tupper Lake, New Yor​k, where she also coaches their high school’s cross country and indoor track teams, and a few triathletes.
  • She has operated and maintained a seasonal motel for the last seven years.
  • She is married and has a 13-year-old daughter. Her husband coaches snowboarding and her daughter is a mogul skier, runs, and plays volleyball.

Amy’s typical day

08:12 -

  • ​She gets up really early for a bike or a run.
  • When it’s peak Ironman time, she gets up around 3:30 – 3:45 AM to spend some time on the bike before work in order to efficiently manage her time between workouts and practice with her school's cross-country team.
  • She usually swims in the lakes in her area because the nearest pool is an hour away from her home. She swims in the lakes until October.
  • She spends a lot of time on the trainer and treadmill because she doesn’t want to miss out on anything at home.

How long do you workout during the day? Do you workout in the evening?

09:25 -

  • I usually work at my job from 7:30 AM to 3:00 PM.​ Usually there’s an afternoon workout or an evening swim, and I try to do some lifting during lunch break.
  • I have four dogs and do a lot of running with them, either in the morning or in the evening.

How long have you been working as a PE teacher? Has this always been your work?

10:10 -

  • I started teaching adaptive PE my first year out of college. It’s been 17 years of​ teaching since.

How long do you sleep each night if you get up at that early hour?

11:02 -

  • I sleep 6-7 hours. It takes a little coffee in the morning. But my energy level is typically good.

What are some things in the big picture that you have found to be the most useful in time management in your training at a high level throughout your triathlon life?

11:44 -

  • It’s different now compared to when I was racing pro. I was 24 or 25 back then. Recovery and taking care of myself wasn’t that hard.​
  • Now I go to the chiropractor every couple of weeks.
  • Sitting down and getting on the recovery boots is good. I have an off-brand pair from Amazon, and they really help since you will be locked-in sitting down for 30 minutes.
  • The biggest thing is not taking it too seriously. Family always comes first. I am blessed to have an understanding coach specifically those days when I have to adjust my workout or cannot workout at all because I have to take care of additional family matters.

How long have you been coached?

 15:21 -

  • ​I hired my first triathlon coach nine months before my first race.
  • After college, I had Martha Grinnell as my coach and my co-triathlete at that time. She was an amazing mentor. I worked with her for three years.
  • Since I came in 2011, I’ve been working with my coach Julio German. It's been really fun because one of my teammates and I are like the guinea pigs. It's really neat to see the evolution of his program and all the different steps that he is trying with us.
  • He is about five hours away so most of my training I have to do either alone or through a program of workouts to follow.
  • We have a large team in Westchester, New York. I go there occasionally to train with them.

Is coaching something that saves you time that otherwise you would use to plan out your training?

16:36 -

  • Yes. I like having to be accountable to somebody else because I have a few athletes that I coach myself. I am still writing the programs but I like that my coach is more innovative with my programs than I would be with myself. And that definitely pushes me a little further than I would do.​
  • Time-wise, I would probably second guess myself all the time so I would always be rewriting the program.

How much training do you do when preparing for an Ironman?

17:44 -

  • Probably 18-22 hours per week for the peak weeks.​
  • Usually, I do four rides a week. Two of them are higher quality – the long ride and then a mid-week high quality ride. Running wise, I run four days a week. Two of them are high quality. I do open water swimming mostly from June to October. I usually get out on a weekend and try to push myself to stay in there as long as I can.

What do you tell to or how do you support the athletes that you coach in regards to managing their time and trying to fit all in and finding a good balance?

19:11 -

  • Family always comes first because for example, if you’re out on the bike and you’re feeling guilty or you feel that you should be with your family, then you will not have presence of​ mind. It will be hard to get your body there and stay on the bike for five or six hours.

What is the mindset that you use to train better?

22:09 -

  • A huge thing for me is the idea that this is something that we get to do. We don’t have to do it. This isn’t our job. Don’t take it too seriously. Have fun with it.​

Other time management tips

23:43 - 

  • Don’t be afraid to wake up too early. It’s so hard to get on a bike or do a quality run late in the evening. Knocking it out early is usually the best bet.

Time management tips from Mikael

24:54 -

  • For people saying​ they are not morning persons and having a hard time getting up early like 4 AM or 5 AM, just try to wake up for 10 days at that early hour and after that you will be a morning person because you will be so tired at 10 PM that you can’t stay up until midnight like you have been used to.
  • Another helpful thing is a wake up light that gradually increases the brightness in your room so that you wake up great and feel refreshed.

Rapid-fire questions

25:57 -

  • Favorite book, blog or resource related to triathlon:​ and
  • Favorite piece of gear or equipment: Hoka running shoes.
  • Personal habit that helped achieve success: Eating a lot of pizza. 

Links and resources

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Mikael Eriksson

I am a full-time triathlon coach, founder of Scientific Triathlon, and host of the top-rated podcast That Triathlon Show. I am from Finland but live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Please contact me if you have feedback on the podcast or want to make suggestions for improvement or send in a question for a Q&A episode.

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