The balance between training for long course events and raising a family is a tricky one. When I first started training for the half ironman distance, my kids were 8 weeks, 2 and 4. For the most part, this has always been part of their lives. Now at 5, 7, and 9….they are an active part of this lifestyle
After IMLP, I got a bunch of questions about training with kids, training in the summer months and generally how to train with family. So I put together a couple of things that make my training a little easier
1. Incorporate as much of my training into their normal day…all three of our kids swim and are fine playing in the pool. This summer we joined a pool that had lap swimming during open swim. Many of my workouts, we swam together. They know where I am at all times and they know that if they don’t behave cough cough JACKSON…then they can sit with their feet in the pool and watch me swim.
The same with most of my easy running or riding….they just came too. We did a ton of riding this summer and the kids loved it. I was also able to coach a kids tri training group from their school this spring in conjunction with their school triathlon. This was a great way to have me at their training.
With this comes the spousal support, they need to be on board…otherwise it is one long trip on struggle street. I am lucky that Ryan is super supportive of my training.
2. HIRE GREAT HELP! For longer rides and runs…and any other workout that did not work incorporating I used a sitter. This was good for both of us. We often planned day trips for the kids or park outings, so they were not always home and I was able to get out on my bike or running without worrying that they were stuck and bored. I used one week of summer camp during my IMLP build to help with an overload week. Additionally if possible, I gave myself the cushion of an hour after my workout so that I was able to shower and eat before all craziness broke loose.
Great help comes with hiring a coach as well. I do not want to manage my own training and I believe that success comes from utlilzing those who can be objective. One key for me in hiring a coach, was that they knew my family was my number one priority. Sue has been great about understanding my commitments to my kids and helping balance the training. She knows to limit the weekend hours and that typically I do not do anything late at night.
3. Say NO often – this was a great lesson…that Jen Harrison taught me a couple of years ago. With kids, especially their ages…there are always things that need to be done…I fulfilled all the volunteer requirements for swim team and spring soccer but I did not take on anything additional. I stopped coaching group programs for the duration of my Ironman training because it was too hard to balance both. I also limited the amount of athletes that I coached…for the same reason. It was a HUGE help and even though there were many times that I felt a little bad, I knew in the end I made the right decision.
4. Go to bed with your kids…REALLY. I need a lot of sleep during training and the only way I really recover well is if I get between 8-9 hours of sleep. So I do not schedule anything past 8 pm and really was a hermit. I could not be out until 11 and then function the next day.
5. LOVE what you get to do…so many people I talked to were at the finish line of an Ironman or a race and see the end result. Reality hits pretty hard quickly, when you begin to look at balancing kids schedules, training, work, and life….so unless you love the sport and all the work that goes into it, start small. The day to day training often is not fun…although I always say that it is the quietest hours of my day and possibly why I train with no music or entertainment. Truthfully, we are LUCKY to get to do this sport and it is great role modeling for our kids.