Team INFINIT Pro Triathlete Andy Potts shares with us his top 6 tips for balancing the demands of training for a triathlon and having a family.
Throughout my career, I have had the privilege to travel the world and watch you share the joy of racing and an active healthy lifestyle with your families. Regularly, I am asked about how I balance training, racing, my coaching business, and family. I gotta say, it’s not easy but it pales in comparison to the juggling act most of you have to do. I have the luxury that I don’t have a job that involves commuting, a boss, or the daily management of people. I’m lucky that when I’m training, I am working. With that, here are a few tips I have picked up over the years that could benefit anyone trying to manage it all.
1. Have a routine but don’t let your routine stress you out
Training for a triathlon is time-consuming and mentally demanding. Add in juggling a schedule, work/life and the schedule of your family makes it tougher. I have found that you have a set schedule, there is one less thing that you have to think about and by getting into a weekly rhythm you can focus on your workout instead of juggling activities. If you know that you have certain time blocks everyday and specific dates for each workout, then it makes it easier to pack your bags, have everything you need and be ready to train. Further, it allows others(like your family), to plan as well.
2. Establish expectations and communicate regularly
Critical for any relationship and a family tri relationship is establishing expectations and communicating if you need to change your schedule or needs. When my wife knows that I won’t be around on specific days/times, she can plan her life and my kids' life around that. Conversely, my wife can let me know her expectations and needs for me so that I can plan my training around that. The key is being clear and establishing a routine. In our house, my family knows I swim early. The expectation is that I won’t be there when they wake up but I will be there during breakfast to get everything ready for school and then get the kids to school while my wife heads off to the cupcake shop. Similarly, I also spend time with my kids explaining to them what I am doing in my training and why. This lets them understand why I am going out on a 4 hour bike ride or in my training cave for hours at a time instead of going with them to the park.
3. Be in the moment
A lot of folks try to do too much. Too much at work, too much with their family and too much training. What ends up happening is they ‘fail’ at everything or are always guilty that they aren’t living up to their expectations. What I try to do is really be in the moment for whatever I am doing. If I am training, I am singularly focused on training as I would be doing a disservice to myself and to my kids if I didn’t give 100% to my training. Similarly, when I am with my kids, I am not feeling guilty that I am not training- I am 100% dedicated to my time with them. It makes everything I do more impactful and I can provide a higher quality experience in everything I do, which is what matters in the end.
4. Brick/Combo workouts
The best way to get in multiple workouts in a day is to brick your workouts. The typical brick is bike/run but you can easily swim/bike or swim/run as well. The goal here is to minimize the prep time and clean up time. Instead of splitting workouts and having to prepare and clean up twice, you can save thirty to sixty minute by doing it once. Really want to get crazy, you can swim/bike/run most days like me :).
5. “Not your typical week”
The old paradigm in triathlon training is to ride long on Saturday and run long on Sunday. Just because this is what has been done doesn’t mean it’s what works for you. At AP racing, we have folks who stack weekend bike rides, run long every other week, take off in the middle of the week, etc.... You have to find the best routine for you and your family that allows you to establish consistency, repeatability and appropriate levels of cumulative training to create adaptations.
6. Get them involved
As my children get older, I am able to take them on bike rides while I run beside them. It’s hard not to give your best when your kid is watching. They get to explore, spend time with their dad and also see firsthand some of the hard work and focus that you are putting in leading up to your big race.
While we all have big goals and dreams, one thing we have to constantly remind ourselves is that Triathlon has to fit into your life, your life doesn’t have to fit into triathlon.