As an elite level athlete I train a lot and I train hard – this is the path I chose and my passion for triathlon runs deep. This sport has been the focal point of my life for 8 years now, and until I met my wife and started a family I lived in my own little world. This year marks my 6th season of competition in the professional division.
(NOTE: Again, I am still having trouble inputing images into anything on my webpage. So I apologize for the lack of visual appeal in these posts and with the site in general. Hopefully the content will keep you entertained and learning new things!)
Pursuing the sport of long-distance triathlon at the highest level inherently poses many challenges. But perhaps the biggest challenge for me in the last 5 years has been finding the balance between family life and my triathlon career. Getting the training done is the easy part, most of the time the actual training isn’t easy but I will always get the training in and I will always give 100% on the day. The hard part is making sure that my wife and Max (our son) get the time they so very much deserve. My wife is incredibly understanding and supportive of my pursuit of excellence in triathlon, and I will forever be in her debt for this.
Max is almost 4 years old and it is clear that the thing in this world that he wants (and needs) the most is attention from me and his mother; and I am referring to quality time where we are present and engaged with him. The greatest part of my life started the day Max was born and one of the hardest things for me to do is try to explain to him that I am going to be unavailable because I need to do my training (workouts range from 30 minutes to 6+ hours). He does understand that my workouts are work and it is critical that I do them, but it is still hard to close the door and head out when he is there idling for attention.
Over the years I have learned how to plan my training quite well so that I rarely miss out on making memories with my family. The following are some of the best tips I can offer to help you make sure you don’t miss a workout and, more importantly, don’t miss out on quality family time.
- Communicate your plans and needs to you spouse / partner, children, other family members and friends.
- Learn what works best for you as an individual when it comes to your training approach. We are all different, for example – you may not be a morning workout person, so be present and engaged with the family at that time of day.
- Plan outings, events and other activities with your family and friends. And then make sure you stick to that plan.
- Know your spouse / partner and respect their needs. This is vital. It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes I have to make a decision to simply not do the 2nd or 3rd workout of the day because I can see my family needs me.
- Remember – One missed workout here or there does not affect your overall fitness, health and wellbeing. The most important thing when it comes to training and exercise is consistency over long periods of time.
- Listen to your body – if you are feeling overly tired and not motivated to perform your planned workout then change it to the next day, put it out of your mind and make the most of your new found time and spend it with your family and/or friends.
- Include family when you can. Max has run a few kids running races over the past few years and it has been an absolute blast for him (see picture below).
- Become time efficient. I save this point for last because it is a skill that needs to be developed. It isn’t that tough to do, it just takes practice. For example, combine the stops to the gas station, grocery store, library, or chiropractor with when you are going to be travelling to and from the gym or pool or run location. Every time you run an extra errand it takes time – time you could be spending your loved ones.
I hope this article will help you and your family lead healthier, happier lives. A father of two recently told me that with his children now at age 12 and 8 the fondest memories they have and speak of regularly are the experiences they have had as a family – the actual experience, with never a mention of material things. I feel that being a dedicated athlete sets a great example for your children but it is good to step back sometimes and remember to keep the balance.
Best of luck at the races in 2015!