Wife, Mother, Career Woman, and Triathlon?
You are a wife, mother, and career women, in addition to other roles you play. You have gotten involved in triathlon now because you don’t have enough things on your plate already! (Yeah, right.) As it goes with “us” type A, goal-oriented, driven women, a couple of sprint distance triathlons will not be enough. We will want to train a “little” more to see how much we can improve. Then the lure of racing longer calls us for the next challenge. Before we realize it, we have a closet full of triathlon equipment, we start looking for a new bike and we have registered for a half or even a full Ironman. You wake up the next day and wonder, ‘how can I balance and manage all these things in my life and race triathlon at the next level’.
A friend bought me the book, ‘Going Long’ by Gordo Byrn, when I registered for my first IM. On the inside cover he wrote, ‘Amy… and so it begins’. As a woman with numerous roles, his statement meant two different things to me. First was what the journey of IM would mean . The second was the question about balancing and managing the things in my life along with the demands of training.
First and foremost you need the open communication and support of your family. Sit down and talk with your spouse/family about your aspirations as a triathlete. Share with them why you want to do this and what kind of time, commitment and discipline this will require of YOU. I highlight YOU this way as each of us will have a different view of what we will need to do in order to be ready for the starting line.
Second, have a plan. Make sure your training is structured and consistent so that your family knows what to expect. Let them know about changes that come up along the way. This may include things like changes in training days, days off, training phases, etc. Not only does this keep them informed about your training, but it allows them to be part of what you are doing. For example, my 16 year old daughter will be racing on mom’s old tri bike with clips & pedals this summer. She rode her “new” bike with me during my 45′ run off. We combined our schedules so we could do this together.
When scheduling training or looking at a plan, consider how this works with your family schedule. Have a willingness to train at different times that may minimize stress on your family. This article is not meant to be a plug for coaching, but this is one very valuable aspect, as a woman, for having a coach. My coach is aware of weekly and monthly commitments and he creates a training schedule, for me, that works around them. Create a monthly calendar that includes everyone?s activities. Color code it for each person. It helps the rest of the family see what each other is doing and have an appreciation for the commitment you are making to your training.
Make a commitment to carve out weekly family time. This can be as simple as a movie night at home, playing a game, sitting together at night to have a snack and talk about the day or the week ahead. Keeping the lines of communication open is key! Commit to time together and let your family choose what defines family time. Don’t center it around anything triathlon related as they, like you, will need a break from it.
With that in mind, recognize that you will have moments you will be tired, irritated; things will come up and your training day will go out the window. Be honest with yourself and your family about your fatigue and frustrations. Find a way to let the fractured training day go. Have a plan for how you will deal with this too.
In all of these ideas mentioned, there are two keys – communication and planning. I do believe we can balance the challenges that triathlon presents with more important things in our lives. This balance will become unbalanced at time. If we have recognition of this and communicate with our family we can keep things more balanced for everyone in our house.
So… it begins, gals! As a woman you were born to be a multi-tasker. Triathlon is the perfect sport for you!