How does one train with a full time job and a family? It’s a question I get from my family and friends and as new father I find myself asking this question. You would like to race and compete, but you also do not want to take away time from your family. Anytime you are training or away from your family, you may feel guilty since it’s time you can be spending with them. When I think of this I keep coming to 3 key areas for you to consider. What is it you value, how much time do you have, and what are you willing to sacrifice?
What is it you value? Before taking on a goal, I would suggest looking at your life and consider what it is you value and make a list. Put everything in order. This list will mostly likely include your family, your relationship with friends and extended family, and living a healthy life so you can see your children have their own children one day. It can even include that 6 am morning coffee before your family wakes up as that is your quiet time to think, reflect, and helps you keep your sanity. Everything should be written down. Think of what you do in a given week. Do you stay up late waiting for Jimmy Fallon to come on? How much do you value this? Fantasy football, poker night with the buddies? What makes up your week, months, and year?
How much time do you have? Take a look at your week and month and think of when you have time to workout and train. Evaluate how much time there is day to day. Make sure you are honest with yourself and a week you can do 95% of the year without making major changes. What days do you have the least amount of time, what days would you have the most amount of time. If you look at your week, you may find that you can get in 2 hours per week, or perhaps it’s 10 or more. Maybe it’s more, maybe it’s less. This will be important on what race or goal you under take. If you have 2 hours to commit you can do a 5k, 10K, swim meet, etc. If you only have 2 hours a week I would not suggest trying to take on an ironman.
What are you willing to sacrifice? Whenever we take something on, whether it’s a new job, training program, having a family, there will be something that you give up. You may find that in your current week you have little time to workout or enough time to accomplish your goals. That means something will have to be given up. You won’t want to give up what you value the most, but you may be willing to give up those poker nights, the late night Friday and/or Saturday dinner plans. The late night T.V. or changing your weekend sleep by going to bed early and getting up early. If you find that you still don’t have the time to accomplish your goals, you may want to reevaluate them. If you want to do an ironman, but your children are still young, you may want to wait a couple of years until they are more independent and focus on sprints since they don’t take as much time.
The final step is to be creative and try to look at your week differently. If your child goes to bed at 8 pm, can you go to bed at the same time so you can workout early in the morning. Can you squeeze in 30 to 60 min of exercise over your lunch period by coming in a little earlier and leaving a little later? Is it possible to run or bike to work to mix your commute with your training? Do you find that traffic is so bad after work that if you leave 30 minutes later you will get home at the same time because traffic has cleared up? That is 30 minutes that you may be able to run or swim at a local pool and you are not losing any time in your day. Are your children old enough to bike? Have them bike with you as you run and ask them about their day. This allows you to spend time with them and running at a conversational pace will help you on those easy days. Do you drop your kids off at practice and you find yourself chatting with other parents the entire time? Can you use that time to get in a short workout?
Three are many ways to find time to train if you put your mind to it. Sometimes you may have to be realistic and put off a goal for a couple of years. However, if you always find reasons not to pursue a goal (to busy, its raining out, to cold, to hot, next year, etc.) versus finding reasons to achieve your goals, you will find your opportunity has passed.