A week in the life: Elaine Garvican

As part of a series of blogs from the Tri Training Harder Race Team athletes, we get a glimpse into how top level amateur athletes go about organising training around their lives (or vice versa, as the case may be). This week it’s the turn of Elaine Garvican to let us in on what she gets up to on a “typical” week; taken from a couple of weeks ago. Elaine is a vet, and until recently was employed in research at a university whilst also running her own small business (supplying veterinary diagnostics). However, about a month ago, her husband’s military job required them both to relocate several hundred miles up to the north of England, so as a result, she is focusing more on her own company, whilst also training for IRONMAN® Weymouth later this year (and looking for a new job!)

To find out more about Elaine, head over to her bio.

Elaine training in the sunny Algarve, Portugal


Overslept and missed my early morning swim window – I am a bit sleepy as a result of having been away since Thursday night supporting at IMUK. The brilliant performances by fellow race team athlete Jason Walkley and several TTH coached athletes and holiday guests made it more than worth the fatigue though. FedEx bring me a large shipment and I manage an efficient use of time throughout the morning with a focused block of work at my computer, catching up on emails from the end of last week, orders and paperwork associated with my business before getting to the pool for a 3.5km Endurance swim.

Since we only recently moved into our current house, there is still quite a lot of sorting out to do, so unpacking and housework ate up most of the afternoon. Then a 2 hour Fartlek run – summer has finally arrived, so it’s a warm one! Come back completely covered in the drowned corpses of all the bugs who landed on my sweaty skin – so glamourous! Stretching, shower, food and some time to chill.


3km Technique swim. I used to hate doing these, but over time I’ve come to not mind them so much. A lot of band-only 50m reps in this one! 6 months ago, I couldn’t swim 25m with a band without practically losing my toenails on the bottom of the pool, so this is quite an improvement too. Home to book in another two deliveries, from two different shipping companies, meanwhile fulfilling a few more quote requests, filing expenses and starting the laborious task of telling a hundred different companies what my new address is. 

45 mins of maintenance core before lunch, talk to a client on the phone and make a chicken risotto before the lure of the sunshine becomes too much and I go out for an easy ride. Being new to the area, I use it as an opportunity to scope out some potential hills for forthcoming hill rep sessions. Dinner, stretch and roller, wash my filthy bike, watch an episode of The Tudors on DVD and go to bed.

Elaine has worked hard this year with her Coach, Philip Hatzis

Start the day with 3.5km swim with 2.4km at CSS. I feel tired today, so I’m pleased I still manage to hit the pace, since my swimming can be pretty hit and miss. Home via the Post Office and Wicks. Work emails and telephone calls, then package up a couple of shipments for dispatch. While waiting for TNT (who seem always to aim for extreme end of any collection window) I set up my turbo in the garage. A truly brutal interval set on the turbo during which I went through 6 bottles of drink left me pretty wobbly and not particularly enamored with cycling, but slightly better informed about news in the triathlon world thanks to a couple of hours of podcasts. Stretch, eat a giant plate of food then spend the remainder of the evening catching up with invoices and housework.

Back to the pool for a 3km Speed swim set – it’s a time-consuming session to get done, because of the high numbers of “best effort” reps and consequently long recovery times. There’s an aquaerobics class on in the other half of the pool though, who are a welcome distraction when my arms – and lungs – start to burn. I expect they would say the same thing about the girl manically charging up and down the fast lane… On my way home, I stop off at Boots to buy a few gallons of suncream, which likely signals the death toll for our current glorious weather. A second breakfast refuels me for sending off another shipment, making some international payments and the general, never-ending faff involved in running a small business. After lunch, bike hill reps; the weather broke which meant I didn’t roast while doing them, but suncream appears to be just as attractive a deathbed for bugs as pure sweat. I am usually more organized with food, but moving has meant having to run down the stocks of pre-home-cooked dinners in the freezer, so we knock together a quick pasta bake. While it’s cooking, I stretch and roller and we watch a bit more of The Tudors.

Elaine competing last weekend in the
Allerthorpe Classic Triathlon


I volunteer on a Helpline and today I’m on call, which limits training, as I have to be available to talk to people who may be experiencing significant degrees of distress and could potentially be suicidal. The Helpline runs 24 hours a day, and my shift is 8am Friday – 8am Saturday, so I head out for my 1hr easy run first thing. It rained overnight and the air feels fresher, but it’s still pretty warm. My loop is 60% road, 40% off road, and no pace is too easy or slow. I try to concentrate on form, as there’s a risk of running becoming sloppy while it takes a couple of kilometers to wake everything up. Minor stuff with work and then 45 mins of maintenance core while listening to my favourite podcast. After lunch, it’s the more boring practicalities of life: I sort out a “Dependent’s Pass” for camp and have a look round the excellently stocked gym, tackle the never-ending cycle of laundry, then do a big food shop – I’m a massive advocate of buying in bulk if you can afford it and I like my freezer to be full of food, especially heading into big training weeks. With this in mind, I cook (a LOT) extra for dinner, so that several portions can be quickly heated in the coming days if needed. Spend the evening writing a letter to my prison penpal.


Lie in! Then it’s a Hill reps run session during which I am also eaten alive by various biting insects. Done and showered by lunchtime and we have a couple of hours to further work on the organization of all our stuff inside the house before a group of friends arrive from London. This evening is the summer ball at my husband’s regiment; quite a lot of food, quite a lot of alcohol, a respectable volume of fireworks and quite a lot of fun. Not a lot of sleep though.


I decided to ride a local 100 mile sportif starting near Scarborough which means an early start. A lot of triathletes look down on sportives, but I think they’re great in several circumstances – it gives me the opportunity to learn a new area and ride with new people, plus the mechanical and nutritional support can be extremely useful. Heading out onto the Yorkshire moors for the first time when your sense of direction is as poor as mine and you don’t know where to refill bottles wouldn’t equate to getting the best out of the training session in my opinion. Plus, in all likelihood, I would not have plotted a route quite as tough as this one – it takes me almost 7 hours of riding to climb all 2,386m. It was a lot of fun though, the views were absolutely stunning and the weather was about as good as we’re likely to get. A 10 minute run off the bike always earns me some weird looks, but nicely rounds off this week’s training – home for more stretching, rollering and a lot of eating and sleeping!
Elaine riding in the Yorkshire moors

Weekly stats:

Total training time: 26.5hrs
Swim: 4.5hrs
Bike: 16hrs
Run: 4.5hrs
Core: 1.5hrs
Total week’s TSS: 1388

This was quite a big week, as I head in to my final phase of training for IRONMAN® Weymouth. I do have regular rest days, so this was also slightly unusual in that it was formed of 7 consecutive days of training.