Written by: Bree Wee
Professional triathlete and mom Bree Wee provides 10 Tips to help find training time while being a parent.
It is true that pros have it easier when it comes to finding the time to train, race and recover. Even elite athletes with children (me included), have it easier than parents with full time jobs who try tackle a training regiment. Pro or not, every triathlete with children must find a way to balance. Here are some tricks I’ve learned while balancing my training with parenthood:
• Long Day Child Swap: If you don’t have time every single week for that long ride or run, every other week will add huge benefits to your fitness and is more manageable. All you need is another parent who shares your situation. Perhaps every other Saturday your friend Sally can watch your children and hers. This creates a great play date for the children and gives you a day to get in plenty of time with your bike or run shoes. The other Saturdays you take Sally’s children and yours while she enjoys a day to go for a bike or run.
• Early Mornings: Waking up before the sun might not be your favorite time to train; however, it can give you several hours to train while your children are sleeping. To get the most out of your mornings, prep everything you need the night before. Have your trainer or treadmill and workout clothes all set to go. Also try to make the night before an early one, so that you still get that important sleep.
• Slow Cooker: Get the children to school, work all day, fit in a run, pick up the children from soccer and rest. Resting is likely not on the plan, but a hungry family is. Break out the slow cooker on your fully loaded days. While getting everyone situated in the morning, throw veggies and meat, BBQ, or some pasta dish in the slow cooker. Let it do the cooking while you get your rest. This is my personal favorite on long brick days. I prep the meal while getting Kainoa (my son) ready for preschool, go train for seven hours, pick up Kainoa from school and walk in the door to a full home cooked meal.
• Everyone Workout: Depending on your child’s age, you can both be active at the same time. While Johnny is at soccer practice it might be tempting to sit on the bleachers and chat with the other moms. Maybe it’s fun to stand at the end of Jenny’s lane during swim practice and yell for her to go faster. While both are okay and support is always important, often times just being at the soccer field or pool makes your child feel loved. If you are short on time, run around the perimeter of the soccer field while Jonny practices. While Jenny is swimming, grab your own lane. It lets her know you share her same hobby, and on the drive home you can share what you both learned. If your child is not yet involved in a sport or after school hobby look into it. Not only does it give you some time for training, it teaches them how to work towards goals.
• Jogging Stroller: Jogging and pushing a stroller at the same time can be the perfect solution. Kainoa was in the jogging stroller during several 18-mile long runs. He loved every minute of the adventure with mommy. A jogging stroller also serves as a personal aid station.
• Honey Help: You get your masters swim workout on Wednesday and he gets golf on Sunday. Or, you get a group ride with the boys on Tuesday and she gets her nails done with the ladies on Saturday. You get the idea; work with your partner to create a routine where you both support each other’s activity and both get your fun in too. If you are a single parent, ask grandma for a night off. Then, hit the road running.
• Bring The Family: With creative thinking, there are ways to involve the family. Perhaps you live near a lake or ocean and can put dad and Jr. in the kayak to escort you on your long swim. Maybe daddy can attach a bike seat to his bike and take daddy’s little girl on his 20-mile recovery ride or easy spin. Mile repeats at the track are a great way to help your older child work that stop watch and be part of your run. For little ones, set them in the middle of the field with a picnic or some toys. You can keep an eye from every inch of the field while you circle the track.
• Ride or Run to Work: If possible, this is a great way to fit in that run or ride, save gas and save time. If you’re going to bike to work, get a small backpack to hold your change of clothes, or leave a change of clothes at the office. If it’s still too dark for you to ride/run to work, get a ride to work and run or ride home from the office. If all else fails, try to use the lunch break to squeeze in some training.
• Carpool, Bus, or walk the children to school: Rather than drive the children to school every day, find a carpool, have them ride the bus, or walk them to school (if you live close). If you can walk them to school, go in your running clothes and run from the school.
• Cross Training: On most training plans there is that little XT. It means cross training and id meant to be something other than swim, bike or run. That means you can break out the Jane Fonda workout videos! Nowadays, there are tons of great home DVDs for every workout imaginable. Yoga, core, kickboxing, booty busters and step aerobics. The beauty of a training session at home is that you can do it anytime that fits your schedule, the children can be home playing, and you can have laundry going, dishes in the dish washer, and something in the oven all while cross training.
With a little creativity, finding time to train can be as easy as changing a diaper!