It sounds like the perfect plan—you get to train (or race) on a getaway while your family relaxes nearby. And yet it rarely works out that way. Instead, you’re left feeling further away from your multisport ambitions and your family is left feeling like you ditched the vacation. As with so many things in this sport, a plan of attack will take you a long way. Two superstar moms and coaches give us their formulas for success:
1. Establish Goals
“My best advice is to realize your primary goal while you are on the trip,” says Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based coach and mom Kim Schwabenbauer. Is the purpose of the trip to have a family vacation? Or is it to get in a big training block or race? Maybe it’s somewhere in between. Navigating the planning, traveling, and vacationing will be much easier if you’re all on the same page for priorities. Fellow mom and coach Susanne Davis from Carlsbad, California, takes it one step further and breaks it down by day: “Just like at home, when traveling with family we put together a daily calendar of mom’s training goals, dad’s training goals, and the kids’ goals and needs.”
2. Plan Ahead
If your usual travel M.O. is to hop in the car and see where the wind takes you, you’ll need to change your tune—planning and preparation are the only way to succeed. A condo or house (like an Airbnb or VRBO) can be your saving grace: You’ll be able to cook, do laundry, and minimize disruptions if training or racing requires early mornings. Do plenty of recon before hitting the reservation button, Schwabenbauer advises. Make sure there is a grocery store, an area gym with a lap pool, and kid-friendly activities nearby. Then, research how accessible the area is for running and riding.
3. Get Creative
Both coaches emphasize the importance of allowing your workouts to serve dual purposes. “Can a recovery ride double as a bike ride with your kids that ends with a stop for ice cream? Can a swim in the lap lanes next to your kids playing at the pool make everyone happy?” Schwabenbauer asks. Maybe find a themed running race. Many of these events offer kids’ race options or activities, and everyone will enjoy cheering you on to a festive finish.
4. Recognize Your Stage
There’s a big difference between toddlers and teenagers, and your trip (and goals) should reflect that. The younger the kids, the more flexible you’ll need to be. A long “A” race should be reserved for when you’re confident in your kids’ ability to embrace race week with you. “The older they get, the more they can appreciate the process of gearing up for an important race,” Schwabenbauer says. “When they are young, they just want to have fun with mom and dad.”
5. Keep Perspective
Whether you’re trying to get in a workout here and there or aiming for a PR at a long-course event, it’s important to remember that family comes first. “You are not going to make or break your fitness in one week,” Davis says. Stay positive, patient, and enjoy the trip!