Friday, January 6, 2012

Training & Life Balance

New Year's Run

I'm often asked how I balance family, work, coaching, and training.  It's a lot to juggle, yet worth it to me.  It makes the journey more rewarding when you share it with others.  It's a cool feeling to have my 6 yr old son ask, "how was your workout dad?"  I enjoy involving Reece in the process by taking him swimming or riding bikes. 

As we wake up each day we have thousands of decisions to make that impact our lives.  Some of these decisions are simple, "what to eat for breakfast?" and others more complicated regarding, "how to balance my day?"

If you have a family, get kids ready for school,  prepare for work, etc., I've found you have to be VERY organized with your time.  As I stated in my previous blog post you have 168 hrs in a week and 24 hrs in a day, so how will you manage it?  I've struggled with developing an effective schedule to try to not impact family time since we had Reece in 2005.  For me it's about finding a schedule that works for me and my family.  The saying, "if mama ain't happy nobody is happy" holds true.  I'm fortunate to have a spouse that has done IM and run marathons, so she understands the time commitment and supports me.  This still doesn't help with the guilt I felt in 2008 while training for IM Canada.

Polar Bear Plunge 2012

Let's face it, training for an Ironman or 70.3 can be a selfish venture.  It's a huge undertaking and requires more communication within the family than ever before.  I recommend althetes share their training schedule with their spouse in order to maintain the balance at home. 

I've completed 4 Ironman triathlons since 2004 and coached 250+ athletes to Ironman/70.3 finishes since 2005.  This personal experience has taught me many lesson about managing time and ultimately helping others learn to find time they didn't know they had to reach their goals!

Five key tips include:  

1) Maintain Life Balance  

Making time to spend with your family will make the experience mean more to you. Prioritize your family time, work and training. Remember the things that really matter in the overall scheme of life. You are never want to look back one day in the future and say, "I wish I would have gone to my son's game." If you have kids remember they are only young once.  Training for an Ironman/70.3 triathlon takes a lot of time away from the family and friends, however if you set a realistic schedule you can maintain life balance.   It's important to remember to do the best you can with the time that you have available to train.

2) Being Realistic

When I trained for my first Ironman triathlon I had already complete 75+ races including 3 half ironmans and run 4 marathons. I swam in college, so I knew that I could do it, although honestly looking back I was training out of fear of the unknown.  I knew a regular marathon was really hard, yet I'd never biked more than 70 miles.  Fortunately I was able to figure out how many hours per week I needed to devote to training. You have to take into account your family commitment, work and other time commitments. I recommend setting your triathlon training program around the hours that minimally impact your family schedule.  Trying to train more than fifteen to eighteen hours and work full time isn't realistic unless you're super structured with your time.

Try training in the morning when everyone is sleeping, use your lunch break to squeeze a run or swim and train early on the weekends.  In worst case, ride your bike trainer at night after the kids go to bed.

3) Specific Training  

I realize everyone has limited time, so the key is to plan out your workouts and communicate the schedule with your spouse.  Use a family calander to set a master schedule as this will help keep the peace at home and allow you to avoid stress. 

Be specific with workouts, use a plan and stick to the plan. Don't train out of fear or feel you need to do want everyone else is doing to reach your goals.  Training with purpose is far more important than just putting in the miles.  For example, many people training for IM think they have to do a certain number of 100 mile rides or run so many 20+ mile runs.  Remember you're not a pro and you want to enjoy the journey!

4) Consistency

Staying consistent is the key to reaching your life & triathlon goals. I've found most people that sign up for longer triathlons are motivated individuals, however sustaining this motivation is key to achieving our goals.  I feel how consistent you are is directly related to how organized you are with your time. 
5) Enjoy the Journey

I've found over the years that having fun and surrounding myself with positive people is key.  I encourage peopel to train with others by joining a triathlon club like Team Blaze Spokane or Ironheart Racing Team  By adding a social element to the training you'll have more fun, learn a lot and be inspired by those around you. 

I can honestly say that I enjoy the training with friends as much as I do the races. I feel enjoying the journey is about life experiences, developing positive relationships with others and helping to inspire others to reach their goals. At the end of my journey I know I'll remember the special life experiences and friendships that developed along the way more than the results.

June 9th

My training for Boise 70.3 started on Monday!  I'm really looking forward to having a coach (other than myself) for the first since swimming in college.  I know I'll be focusing more on biking than I have in past and look forward to seeing where training takes me in 2012!

All the best in the 2012 triathlon season! I encourage you to follow these 5 steps to maintaining balance and reaching your goals! I look forward to family time, coaching, training, racing and enjoying my journey in 2012!

Thanks for reading!