How this Mother of 5 Manages the Triathlon Balance
Training, work, family. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, says Michelle Andres.
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Training, work, family. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, says this triathlete, teacher, and mother of five.
When 41-year-old Michelle Andres races, she show up with an entourage: Team Andres – made up of Lee, her husband of 22 years, and their five teenage sons, three of whom are triplets.
“Every time, my husband and boys are out there on the course cheering me on,” says Michelle, who took up triathlon when her sons were toddlers and currently holds the amateur course record at Ironman Wisconsin. “Nothing motivates me more than seeing their faces and hearing them yell, ‘Go Mom!’”
She repays the favor at her sons’ hockey games, where she can always be found in the stands. Michelle’s days are jam-packed as a mom, teacher, and triathlete, yet she knows all roles can coexist peacefully. “I can train, work, do triathlon, and be the mom and wife I want to be. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing,” Andres says. “As moms, we still need to have dreams and goals and work toward them. Who are we to tell our children to do that, but we aren’t asking that of ourselves?”
One of the most important contributors to her success, she says, is Team Andres. “I believe my most important job is to raise kind young men who know how to take care of themselves, be responsible, work hard, and contribute to society. My sons have grown up learning how to do their own laundry, take turns cooking dinner, getting themselves up in the morning for school, and getting their own breakfast,” she says. “We’ve got each other’s backs, and we all chip in.”
This requires a lot of communication between Michelle, Lee, and their sons, which happens in one non-negotiable part of the team’s day: family dinners. “They are and have always been a big part of our time together,” Andres says. Over these dinners, everyone shares updates on their daily lives, adds events to the family calendar, and discusses who will cover household duties. From there, Michelle schedules her training.
“I don’t have a coach, so I can structure my sessions around my family. If something comes up, I can change sessions around,” Andres says. “I have a basic weekly template I use, then I adjust the intensity and/ or duration depending on where I’m at in the season and how my body is adapting to the training.”
Early-morning workouts are also key for checking the boxes in her training schedule: “There have been days where trips to the doctor or away hockey games take up free time in my day, so getting the key sessions in early is important for me.” During the school year, she also schedules training sessions during her lunch period so she can be free in the afternoons and evenings for what’s most important: family dinners and hockey games with her husband and the boys.
The Team Andres Playbook
- Make sure your family is on board before signing up for a big race like Ironman.
- Schedule your training around family, not the other way around.
- When you are with your family, be present.
- Have an off-season where you put training on the back burner and soak up as much family time as possible.