When I started triathlon I was a mom, CVICU Nurse, and athlete. While I am now a mom and athlete, there is still a lot of balance that needs to happen.
10 Ways to Balance 'Mommying' With Ironman Training/Racing
Enjoy the moments and be present instead of focusing on what you could be doing
There are times you will be more athlete than mom and times you are more mom than athlete. I used to find myself on long rides or runs and see families out together on Saturdays enjoying the park or just each other. I would wish I were doing the same with my family and my mind would drift and I wouldn’t be getting the focused workout in I had planned on. You become a better mom and athlete when you fully engage in those endeavors you are pursing at the moment.
Include your family in your training
My daughter loves to go on stroller “adventures” (her word) where we sing along to Disney music played over a wireless speaker while I run. We also sometimes stop at a park so we can do one of her favorite things after I run. We put toys in the garage so Emi can play nearby while I‘m on the treadmill or trainer.
Find a gym with child watch
This has been a lifesaver for me. Most mornings I am able to get my swim in before my husband leaves for work so Emi plays at child watch while I run or do strength training. Even though most gyms require you to stay onsite, it still helps! Make sure that you have your child test it out before you commit to make sure it works for them too. We have been creative when using child watch. I sometimes start my workouts early and my husband will drop Emi off later, or he will pick her up after we’ve gone there together so I can use more than the 2 hour limit.
Use naps to your advantage
Fortunately Emi still naps so I use that time for focused workouts. I have a bike trainer and treadmill at home to fit in workouts while she sleeps.
Use races as vacations for the whole family or time for just you and your spouse
When I go to an international full IM my husband will come and we spend extra time after the race for a little vacation. Going on long hikes the week after the race is a great way to recover. For domestic races, flights are much cheaper so Emi comes with us and we make it a family trip. This past year we made some fun memories as a family on the big island of Hawaii.
Review your calendar together as a family each week and include training schedules
This is vital for us to see who needs to be where when. My husband and I share a calendar but it’s still good to review the week and commitments.
Ask for help
When we lived in Cincinnati I had some close friends with children who would help with Emi while I traveled, or had big training days. Now that we live in Boise, we have so much family to ask for help. Emi gets to spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles and, most importantly, cousins.
Combine errands with training
If I have something to deliver or a few groceries to pick up, I will do that during a run or ride with Emi in tow. A good stroller or bike trailer makes it easier to do these “errand workouts”.
My husband taught me this one. He creates boundaries with work so it won’t invade family time. I now do the same with my training. I get all my workouts in before 5pm so we can have family time in the evening. I know my schedule won’t work for everyone but it is important to create uncompromisingly strict boundaries around family time.
It’s ok to not do a workout if your family needs you
There have been times where Emi got sick during a workout so I bailed to take care of her. Other times we just needed more time as a family so I rearranged my workouts or dropped one altogether. Pay close attention to what your family needs and don’t be afraid to change training plans. Just because most triathletes do a long ride on Saturday and long run on Sunday doesn’t mean you have to too. It may take some creativity, but why not change things up so you don’t have two long workout days on the weekend. Make sure to keep things in perspective: training and racing is temporary; families are forever.