Balancing Act: Tips From A Fellow Age-Group Athlete

A husband and father of three shares his tips for balancing triathlon and family.

A husband and father of three shares his tips for balancing triathlon and family.

1. Embrace the darkness. Get up while your spouse and kids are still asleep and head to the pool, climb on the trainer or get out for a run. Most days they’ll never know you were gone. By rising early you haven’t sacrificed any valuable morning hours with your family.

2. Lunch-hour workouts are your friend. Squeeze in a 30-minute tempo session on the treadmill or the spin bike at the gym. If there’s not a gym nearby, bring your running shoes and change in the bathroom at work. These workouts aren’t make-or-break, but they are a good way to double up on your training days.

3. Go on the occasional afternoon group ride. If there’s a twice-weekly hammerfest in your area, link up with them once per week or every other week. Have an upfront discussion about it first, reach an agreement about when you might watch the kids in return, and don’t abuse it by feeling entitled to make the ride every time. I find once per week during my build phase is plenty of time chasing the roadies.

4. Treat weekends as family time. The weekends aren’t “yours.” That’s the sort of attitude that gets a lot of triathletes in hot water. Remember, even though you’ve been at work all week, you’ve still been absent from home. My personal goal is to be gone no longer than an hour or two after my family wakes up. Let the single, and the soon-to-be single, start their rides at 10 a.m.

5. Stay awake. I’m certainly not suggesting staying up late, but try making it to 9:45 or so. Put your kids to bed, spend a few minutes talking about the day with your spouse, and then pass out cold (until 5 a.m.). And drink afternoon coffee. Lots of coffee.

Bottom line: Your family has to know that they are your top priority. You’ll earn points along the way by being flexible and can buy yourself extra weeknight group rides or an extra hour on the weekend here and there.

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