Part of my goal as an athlete, coach, business owner, and all-around person is to inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and do something that they have always wanted to do. However, it seems that often I get the same response from everyone when talking about triathlon and their dream and/or desire to do a triathlon no matter the distance; “I wish I had time for that” or “I have two kids I could never do the same things you do”, or “it would be different if you had kids”.
I have said it many times but my response is always the same, it all comes down to a desire and a want for if you really want it then you will make it happen. For me it has always been about commitment. I chose this life, I made the decision to chase this dream so no matter what I am going to get the work done. Now I am very blessed to have a job that makes that balance a lot easier because I have the ability to train at all hours without working around a specific nine to five-time frame. However, that does not mean sometimes I have make accommodations in order to get things done. There have been plenty of times that I have been on the bike at 4:30 am because I have to be some where in the morning, or family things to take care of, or headed to the gym late at night because of life that got in the way throughout the day.
However, today I do not want to share my journey but rather I wanted to share with you some amazing women that have agreed to share their story of how they manage triathlon with a work/mom life balance. Each of these women work, spend time with their families, raise their children, and chase their dream.
Before I go into much detail let me introduce the amazing women who have decided to share their story with me:
Amanda Wowk (AW): fulltime student, exercise instructor and full time project management internship training for Victoria 70.3, Calgary 70.3, Ironman Mont Tremblant, and Victoria Marathon. Amanda got into triathlon because it was something she wanted to check off her bucket list, a one time thing, after training for my first race and then crossing that finish line she was completely hooked and hasn’t looked back. Now triathlon isn’t only a big part of what she does but it is who she is.
Carlyn Miller (CM): full time Middle School Science teacher, wife, and mom to 2 fur babies training for Eagleman 70.3, Ironman Lake Placid, Marine Corps Marathon. Carlyn got into triathlon because she needed to make a change in her life, so she picked the biggest and scariest goal she could think of, an Ironman.
Kimiya Memarzadeh (KM): full time graduate student getting PhD in Neuroscience and Cancer Biology training for Houston Half marathon, Oilman 70.3, and Ironman Texas. Kimiya started triathlon as a way to gain her competitive spirit back and remembers finishing USAT National Championships with a smile plastered on my face the entire race.
Brook Rushing (BR): Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at NBCU training for Hawaii 70.3 Santa Rosa 70.3 and Indian Wells 70.3. Brook got into triathlon as a way to distract her from battling with body image issues, anxiety, and a lack of confidence. Triathlon became her therapy and helped her to become more confident and learn to focus on how her body performs rather than how it looks.
Diana McDonald (DM): Stay at home mom of four children currently recovering from a stress fracture in her hip with the goal of being able to race at Santa Cruz 70.3 and La Quinta 70.3. She got into triathlon as a way to prove to herself that she was capable mentally and physically while being a mom to four kids.
Hilary Fenton (HF): Transport Scheduling Analyst for Marathon Petroleum, wife, and mom to three children 6 years and younger training for 70.3 and 140.6 along with a marathon in late fall or early spring. Hilary got into triathlon after having had to spend some time swimming and biking while rehabbing multiple injuries.
Alexandra Tipping (AT): Paediatric nurse with three children ages 7, 6, and 3.5. Alexandra started triathlon after watching her husband train for his first 140.6 as well as previous 70.3 distances and she loved the atmosphere at the race and how supportive and friendly everyone was.
Sometimes one of the hardest things is feeling as though you are alone in the journey, triathlon is very solitary despite the fact that the community is so amazing, but what you should always know is that you are never alone and we all often go through moments where it is hard to stay motivated. Here are what some of your fellow triathletes say is the hardest part of staying motivated:
(CM) weather and lack of sleep/personal time.
(BR) I find it hard to stay motivated when I travel as I don’t have the same gear and nutrition.
(AM) Stress and overwhelming nature of having so many things on the go, it can cause a negative snowball effect.
(KM) Feeling exhausted, after a twelve-hour day on my feet the idea of getting on the bike is the last thing in the world I want to do.
(HF) After my second or third day of work in a row and being up at 3:30 am that all I want to do is cuddle with my husband and the babies on the couch.
(DM) the early morning workout; 3:30 am
(AT) Trying to stay focus when I just want to sleep.
I sent each of these women some questions and had them send me back their answers so that I could provide you with their tips to managing a busy life with training.
Top Tricks to Employ to Balance Work/Mom Life and Training Life
Planning: This is the one thing that everyone I interviewed touched on.
(KM) Every Sunday night I look at my training plan for the week that calls for “X” amount of swims, bikes, runs, etc and then I compare it to my work schedule and physically plan out where the pieces fit, like a puzzle.
(AW) Plan each day the night before, pack your nutrition, clothing, etc that you need for the next day to make for easy transitions between work and training life.
(CM) I meal prep on Sundays so that I don’t have to think about meals throughout the week. I pack my training gear, work clothes, and lunch bag every night before the next day so that I can just get out of bed and begin the day.
(AT) I make a schedule and stick to it, otherwise I find that I can’t fit it in.
Get up Early (this had a lot of votes from all parties interviewed).
(AW) There are so many benefits to this.
(HF) I do about 90% of my training indoors so I don’t have to leave my home or kids to get my workouts done.
(AW) Eliminate additional garbage (extra) from your life. Training and work are important, but going for lunches, after work drinks, company events, etc can be eliminated or at least boundaries can be set. This is obviously very dependent but at the same time you have to set those boundaries.
(HF) Make sleep a priority, you will benefit more from the sleep not only in your workouts but in having energy to spend time with your family.
Top Tricks to Staying Motivated When the Training Has to be Manipulated
(KM) I always tell myself that anything is better than nothing and I try to not beat myself up when I don’t have the hours or energy to complete a training session.
(KM) may sound intuitive but I find that when I focus on those goals it makes me more excited to finish the long term goal.
(DM) I want my children to know nothing comes easy and you have to work for what you want.
(HF) If I have to shorten or scrap a workout because of a family matter, I do it. If you just get 20 minutes to get your HR up, then do it. Its better than nothing.
(CM) rather than beating myself up about having had to move it or skip it think about how maybe you could have avoided the situation or how you can plan better the next time around to prevent it from happening. Moving things around does not mean that you are failing or giving up. In fact, in a lot of ways it may be your body and your life telling you to focus inward.
(AT) I think about why I started to get fit in the first place. I’ve lost both of my parents to cancer in the last 3 years and I started to compete after my mother died.. It gave me focus and helped me deal with the loss.
How Do You Help Your Family to Feel Included
(DM) My kids are my cheerleaders at home while on the training, and when I am away at races it is time with my husband that they get to spend 1 and 1 time with their dad.
(HF) Since I do most of my training at home they get to participate in most of my training sessions through interactions, sometimes they join me for little strength sessions, and my oldest sometimes rides her bike while I run.
(AW) I try to choose races that are located in places that I think they may be interested in going to, and we make mini vacations out of it.
(KM) I bought my fiancé a bike and on weekends he will bike next to me while I run. I find that teaching them about the sport, the history of Ironman and the differences between the different distances helps them understand the sport more and what it takes to do that.
(AT) I run with the buggy on my easy days so that I can bring them with me. My youngest son is my running motivator. He shouts at me on the buggy that I’m not going fast enough and we need to hurry up.
What would be the one thing you would tell someone who comes to you and said that they would love to do triathlon, but they don’t have the time?
(BR) You always make time for the things that are important to you. It’s a little silly but no matter how full your day is, you make time to shower and brush your teeth.
(DM) You do have the time. How bad do you really want it, and if you want it bad enough they will make the time.
(KM) I find it helpful to ask myself am I doing everything I can in this moment to put myself one step closer to the person I want to be? If the answer is no, then I am making time for the wrong things. If you don’t have time for something, it is because you are actively choosing not to make the time for it.
(HF) If you are seriously invested in it, you can make the time to train. I would also recommend that they try a very easy training plan to start with.
(AT) Start small and plan. I started with a sprint distance as I wanted to test out if I enjoyed triathlon and if I could fit the three disciplines into my schedule.
I hope you all found each of these helpful, insightful, and made you feel a little less like you are alone in how are you feeling. One of the things I love most about triathlon is the community behind it and the support that can be found from each and every person who is out there. I am so thankful to be able to share with you the knowledge I have learned throughout my own journey and those of others.