What a shower! (Andrew)

They don’t cover this in any training plan.

It’s not in any book.

But it’s the one thing you need to know before starting any triathlon programme – how often do you need to shower?

Check your programme. It doesn’t mention it, does it? Your programme will tell you that, today, you need to run five miles and you need to swim two kilometres; but what it doesn’t say is that you’ll also need to shower after that run and shower after that swim – and, probably, shower when you get up.

Unless you don’t sweat when you sleep. Then don’t shower when you get up.

(Ya dirty stop out).

Training programmes will tell you that you will train for five, six, seven hours however, when trying to fit it all in, those programme should also explain how long it’ll take to shower – and to get changed.

You don’t start running without getting changed. Not unless you like nudey jogging, which, in Glasgow, is dangerous as it’s cold and people will think a Smurf is running wild through the streets.

Instead, when looking at your training programme you need to think – “okay, I can run for five miles at lunchtime but that also means I’ll need a shower when I get back. Now, my one hour lunch is looking a bit tight (unless you can run under 7 minutes a mile) as not only do I need to run, I need to shower and I still need to eat.”

Showering is the fourth discipline of triathlon. Maybe, the fifth after transition. But definitely in the top six of tri.

The sixth is getting your wetsuit on without looking like a sausage trying to squeeze back into its skin.

Showers need as much planning as any other part of triathlon.

You need to remember a towel for the pool, a second for work. You need to think about your hair, do you wash it first thing when you wake, or after your run at lunch, or both times, or none at all – you like it tussled.

Hair is a triathletes’ worst enemy. We spend most of the race covering it up with swim cap and bike helmet only to unleash it on the run when it’s damp, sweaty, flat and, possibly, covered in salt. Your hair basically has all the grace of a chip found in the gutter at the side of the road.

(Random thought – why is stylish a compliment? She’s stylish! Normally, when you add -ish to the end of the world it’s an insult, it detracts from what you’ve just said. This sandwich is alright-ish. Stylish should mean you have style, well, styl-ish.)

When planning any training programme the most important thing you can do is plan your showers along with it. I’ll look at my day and see if I need a swim in the morning followed by a run at lunch time means two showers – one after the swim and one after the run – instead of three if I shower in the morning, run in the afternoon then shower, then swim at night then shower.

I then take it further. If I’m cycling at night and shower at 8pm. Does that mean I don’t then need a shower in the morning because it’s been less than 12 hours since I last showered?

I could then have a shower on Monday night, not shower on Tuesday morning, shower on Tuesday afternoon after a run then only have one shower when I would have had two.


Assuming you agree that showers are more of a time thing rather than linked to how much you whiff when you get up.

See, planning showers is hard! And they need just as much attention as the training itself.

I mention all of this because a couple of weeks I had a misfortune in the shower. I was at work. I was finishing washing when, instantly, the lights went out.

The work shower in a room off a corridor which is off another corridor. It’s right at the centre of our office, far, far away from any windows. When the lights went out, it instant darkness. No light under the door, no passive light to slip through and provide some illumination. I was effectively blind.

And I couldn’t remember how to open the shower door.

I’d never had to think about it before. I just opened it. With my hands – and my eyes.

Now, I’m trapped in the cubicle, sightless, and unable to remember if it swung in, swung out, slid open or lifted up suicide door style.

I couldn’t get out. Nor could I shout for help. I was naked. Help would come but help would very quickly run away.

For five minutes I tried pulling, pushing, sliding and jostling until I figures out there was a pivot in the middle of the door that meant I had to both pull and slide it to open it.

I then used the light from my iPhone to get changed.

It’s what Bear Grylls would have done.

So, the moral of this story, is that showers are tricky things. Not only can you get trapped in them you can also find them eating into your valuable time. Incorporate showers into your training plan. Plan ahead. Know how they open and close. Master the shower – and you will master triathlon.