I’m back from a week hiatus! (work/life balance sucked in other words!) Appropriately, thats what we are talking about this week.
At first blush it would seem that a triathlon coach might have a difficult time talking about a training/life balance because both are so inter meshed. My job is my passion and visa-versa. But of course there are other aspects to my life that have nothing to do with endurance sports. And while many of my clients I now consider personal friends, many of my other close friends find the subject insufferably boring and pointless (or so I imagine, they often indulge me with friendly smiles and nods when on topic.)
This is in addition to the fact that I’m married to my wonderful wife and while she has taken up running and has always worked out in gyms, doesn’t have any intentions of taking up triathlon and has many other awesome interests. And thank God for that. I’d probably become very bored if every aspect of my life revolved around sport. Our differences are one of the things I’d like to attribute to our strong relationship.
That said, large portions of my time are taken up with either my own training or the training of others. This can’t be avoided but it can be managed. In fact, right now may be the easiest it will ever be. When we have children, a family a house and all that other good stuff, it will become much more complicated. Which is what I imagine most of my readers already have and why I probably lack any real life experiential advice.
In my own training, I try to keep it to the hours my wife is working and wouldn’t be around anyway. For me that means afternoons and mornings when I can. I do my best to keep weekends free and for non-Ironman years (not this year unfortunately) thats pretty easy.
Racing is a different story. I love to race (my dirty little secret is that I love it WAY more than training) This is something that can’t really be worked around. Its a constant negotiation with the loved ones in your life. The time and expense, as you know, can be significant. Which is why it helps to plan far in advance and bring your sig others into the conversation early on. The “Ironman” conversation is an important one and shouldn’t be done unilaterally (unless you want to sleep on the couch for months, not good for training)
But conflicts are bound to happen. As a coach, huge portions of my job entail dealing with the fallout from these conflicts that my clients encounter. And so I am very familiar with the shuffling required from a sick kid, a last minute job assignment or an extended family issue. And I am here to tell you, IT CAN BE DONE! Many of my athletes want their training schedule to be set in stone. They feel that if they miss even one workout their entire season is blown. Time and again I find myself writing reassuring emails telling someone that its ok to miss that hill workout. It can be made up, or reshuffled or simply missed and the race will still go fine. Other coaches my try tough love but its just not my style.
Granted, if this happens enough and key workouts are continually missed the cumulative effect can be deleterious but it takes a good amount of neglect for this to happen.
Finally, I always encourage my clients to have perspective. At the end of the day, no matter how rewarding, enjoyable and releasing it is to participate in such an awesome sport (or sports) there are more important things in life. Your relationship with those you love should never be sacrificed for selfish reasons. And you should never feel guilt for choosing family over what is, in essence, a solitary sport. You can be frustrated. You can occasionally get mad at the things that interfere with training. But in the end its good to remember that their will always be another race and another morning to make up the effort.