How to be a Wedding Photographer & Triathlete

Wedding photography involves long days of standing, running around, concentrating, and standing in weird poses looking for the right angles. I’m a firm believer of being as fit as possible in order to do this job at my best ability.

As a wedding photographer you can do multiple fitness regimes to stay fit & healthy in this job. Some that I’ve tried is yoga, swimming, cycling & plyometrics with the great fitness trainer Shaun T, both his dvd programs like Insanity & also in person (greatest workout ever!). But it’s triathlon is without doubt the best way I can keep in shape.

Triathlon is still one of the fastest growing sports…in 2008 Sligo Tri Club had 8 members including myself, today it has way over 250! I’ve been lucky enough to have had a lot of clients that were triathletes, competing in distances from sprint to Olympic up to full Ironman!

But isn’t training for 3 sports very time consuming? Yes & no.

You can take this feature as being based on a full-time wedding photographer, which I am. Anyone who works for themselves and says they don’t have time to train, just needs to readjust the way they work…get up earlier, train/work later. Find what works for your life!

wedding photographer triathlete

In 2015 I returned to triathlon after taking a 3 year break. I returned as I managed to get a place in the prestigious Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco. On gaining entrance to this race, and coming from a base of zero again, I knew I needed a full 6 months hard training to get ready. Note, I like to push myself to my max, just finishing a race is fantastic, but it’s in my DNA to push very hard, and I’m not a natural athlete so I need to train hard to be able to race hard! My training goal was to finish the Escape race in 3 hours or under…I actually done it in 2 hours 44 minutes! Nearly the perfect race for me!

wedding photographer triathlete

So how to squeeze wedding photography with training. Working for yourself means you can structure work around training and that’s much easier than working a 9-5 where you’re obviously more restricted with time.

Firstly, the most important thing is a calendar. I’m not going into my actual training program, but I trained twice a day for the most part, sometimes three times, then the crucial bit, on a day with an actual wedding this was your ‘rest’ day! Wedding photographers know a wedding day is far from rest but you’re not actually training, so it has to be your rest day, and if you have a double wedding weekend, you get two days of rest.

When I mean rest, if at all possible, I always did some active recovery on that day, whether it was 30 minutes of stretching or yoga I tried to do it before I went to the wedding.

wedding photographer triathlete

Looking at my training calendar which I still have, a typical week in the last month of my training was:

Monday: 7am Swim pool session + later that day Shaun T leg workout followed by 15km hill run session.

Tuesday: Bike hill session (done sometime during the day when it suited & weather cooperated) + plyometrics.

Wednesday: 7am Swim pool session + Bike/run brick session during day. Engagement Shoot in evening.

Thursday: Shaun T leg workout followed by 12km run on flat.

Friday: Stretch & Yoga very early in day – WEDDING DAY

Saturday: Yoga again very early in day – WEDDING DAY

Sunday: Bike/run brick session + Sea Swim 3km in the evening.

In addition to the above, I was obviously doing editing, album work, office work & client meetings during the day & around the training. Just try to fit it all in. If an engagement shoot is at 8pm, train well before it. If the shoot is middle of the day or afternoon, then you can train in the morning and evening! It’s all about finding the balance!

wedding photographer triathlete

For me I found the best way was to have my calendar & mark off the training as I got it done. So I knew getting up each day what was ahead of me & what I had to achieve. After a week or so of doing this, it becomes normal! And because you are getting much fitter, regardless of how you want to finish in a race, you will find yourself finishing a wedding shoot and feeling fresh & raring to get out training again…say goodbye to post wedding tiredness!

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