Getting it all done (training for a full distance Ironman … 140.6 miles) is a challenge. And it’s a challenge that I’ve talked about before. But I feel like I need to explain more of the story and then I need to share how we manage it.
Previously I had blogged on Swim Bike Mom about how to manage training for triathlons as a single mom. Since then my circumstances have changed. While different, they present their own set of challenges. I am no longer a single mom, but rather one half of the hard-working, hard training team of triathlete parents in my house that also contains two kiddos, ages 6 & 7 and two dogs.
Ben and I are both triathletes as are the kids. One would think that we might be wise enough to sign up for different “A” races so that we could easily train and maintain our life balance. That would probably be wise, but apparently we are not wise and we enjoy training together… enter Ironman Lake Placid. This year our goal race is Ironman Lake Placid. We are both working full-time jobs, raising kids and attempting to put in long hours of quality training as we prepare for this race. So that’s the quick story of what we’re doing, now …. for the how we are doing it. And I think that this is important to share because you can make it work for your family, you just have to work at it.
1) Plan – The first thing that I’ve really learned how to do is plan the week. We have asked our coach (yep, using the same one) to make sure we have our training plan for the week which starts on Monday by no later than Saturday. This way we can look at the week … what kiddo obligations, work meetings, etc we have and then plan the training around all of that. I am frequently sliding workouts around in my training peaks program. I try to make the training days longer on the days that the kids are not with us and balance the morning and evening work outs as best I can.
2) Train Early – The easiest way to get the workouts in and to not impact your family or work life is to train early. This is not always easy, but I’m telling you that it is the #1 thing that you can do to get it all in. We are frequently setting up bikes in the basement at 4:15 am in order to get the two-hour bike ride in before the kids even open their little eyes for the day. While difficult to get up at that hour some times, it also starts your day out on the right foot when you already know that your training is done for the day and you can work and spend time with family without worrying about when you’re going to carve out that piece of the day for your training.
Some of the many faces of my alarm clock…
3) Recruit Help – We searched our block for babysitters for the kids. Low and behold we have a wonderful babysitter who lives right next door. And do you want to know the best part? She is not averse to coming over at 5:00 AM to babysit so we can head to the pool and back, again, getting the training in before the kids are awake and the day starts. Having a sitter that you can regularly call upon, especially one who doesn’t mind the early hours is really invaluable.
4) Train with the family – We don’t train with the kids often because well, they’re kids. But, sometimes it’s ok to get your run in as a team. What do I mean by this? Well, I will occasionally run while my kiddo rides his bike to get the training in. This doesn’t happen all that often and never for anything over an hour, but he loves to do it and what better way to spend some time together than doing something active. In fact we did this just the other day on Mother’s Day.
And let them share in your accomplishments!
5) More Planning – There’s more planning than just that of your workouts. This training season, I’ve started to rely heavily on meal planning to make our lives a bit less hectic and crazy. Every week before the grocery shopping is done (more on that in a minute), I try to pull together a plan for the dinners for the week. This way we have a plan and it can be easily executed and good food can be on the table each night. Sometimes without planning we end up grabbing for something last-minute and it’s not all that satisfying. As an example, this week we had planned to make chicken noodle soup in the crockpot one night. So yesterday morning, after finishing my 4:30 bike ride, I headed upstairs and combined all of my ingredients in the crockpot so that dinner would be waiting for us at the end of the day. No muss, no fuss. It was perfect and it made enough to freeze for a few additional meals that we will be able to pull out in a pinch.
6) Groceries – I am certain that there are jokes about the amount of food that people training for endurance events such as an Ironman eat. Let’s just say that it’s a fair share. And if they’re anything like us, they’re trying to make it clean whole food as much as possible. This means a fair amount of time is spent in the grocery store. Or does it?! I just recently discovered the beauty of online grocery shopping. Armed with my meal plan above, I am able to compile a grocery order in about 20 minutes tops. I can then set up a time for pick up at the grocery store. I have yet to try delivery because I don’t always know when we will be home. I had really great success with online grocery ordering and I probably saved myself at least an hour of wandering around the grocery store aisles. I will definitely be sticking with this procedure through Ironman and possibly there after. It’s a little dreamy…
7) Take Turns – As much as we love training together, there are days and weekends where we have to take turns getting a long ride or run in so that our parenting duties are not neglected. It’s a necessary evil and it works.
8) Make the Trainer & Treadmill Your Friend – Sometimes a workout needs to be done while watching a kids movie. It’s not my favorite, but it’s very doable. The kiddos have watched various cool family movies while I’ve gotten in a two-hour ride. A few weeks ago, it was a rainy saturday and I did my run on the treadmill while we all watched part of We Bought a Zoo. Again, not my favorite, but doable.
9) Forgive & Be Kind to Yourself – You are only human. Some workouts will get missed. It is ok. Be kind to yourself and resist the urge to beat yourself up excessively. That won’t help anything and quite honestly, sometimes you just can’t fit it all in. So you need to relax, breathe and move on to the next day.
10) Have Fun – Always remember that you are doing this for fun! If you lose sight of that it becomes too much work and it’s not enjoyable. I am probably never going to podium, heck there might even be more days where I never reach the finish line. But I’ll be darned if I’m going to let that get me down. I want to enjoy triathlon and the way that training forces me to push myself. Get out there and enjoy the day!
So, that’s the update on how we are getting it done in our house. How about all of you? Are you crazy enough to train for a big race along with your significant other? How do you find balance?