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Living A Life While Training for "Ironman"

Posted Jul 11 2014 2:33pm
Monday through Friday
4:15 - 4:30 a.m.  Morning Alarm
5:15 - 6:45 a.m.  Morning Training Session
8:00 - 5:00 p.m.  "Work"5:30 - 6:30 p.m.  Evening Training Session (swim) - three days a week7:00 - 9:00 p.m.  Dinner and "Family Time", laundry, dishes, etc.
Saturday5:30 - 6:30 a.m.  Morning Alarm6:30 - Noon        Training Session - usually "long brick" dayAfternoon           Lunch, grocery shopping, "family time", dinner preparation, laundry, dishes, etc. Evening              "Family Time" or Movie Night8:30 - 9:00 p.m.  (Truly) Lights Out

Sunday6:00 a.m.              Morning Alarm7:00 - 10:00 a.m.  Long Run 11:00 - Noon        ChurchAfternoon           Laundry, Dinner preparation, "Family time", coaching e-mails and plans, maybe a second "work out" with the hubby 8:30 - 9:00 p.m.   (Truly) Lights Out
Every seven days, "lather, rinse, repeat."
Now, bear in mind that I am married to an age-group triathlete, law-enforcement lieutenant who is currently assigned to the midnight shift, and that I have two competitive triathlete sons so the preferred schedule is frequently revised at a moment's notice if not more quickly.
For example, on the weekends when my younger son will compete in a three-day swim meet.  His session will require his arriving at the pool by 6:30 a.m. and concluding somewhere about Noon.  And, if he swims top 16 in any of his events he returns by 4:30 p.m. for warm-up for the Finals competition.  That means Saturday's long ride/brick will have to move to the next weekend and the long run on Sunday will have to be split or shortened to be completed during the warm-up period.
Last summer, right in the middle of training for my first 140.6, I traveled to Hawai'i with my son for two weeks.  Since he was competing (IM Honu 70.3), my tri bike stayed in Florida (golly gee it's expensive to take a bike anywhere if it isn't on your car).  That meant training was limited to short runs and swimming when my son was swimming.  Later in the fall when my husband "aged up" to 50, and wanted to complete an Olympic Tri for his birthday, that meant my scheduled 100 mile ride became a high intensity 3-tiered brick followed by a loooonnnnggg run the next day.  And, for anyone who wants to know about long trainer rides, I'm here to tell you they can be done.
The weekend preceding and the weekend of Ironman World Championship left me a "single parent" while my husband traveled with my older son to Hawai'i.  If you have a pre-teen son, you know that leaving one to his own devices while you ride 120+ miles is not advisable.  Six and seven hour trainer sessions can be done:  you pick a movie, the son picks a movie, and ... continue until the required time/mileage is achieved.  Of course, one of those rides was done at 1:00 p.m. following the pre-teen's participation in his first adult sprint tri that he had insisted upon entering.  And, naturally, traveling to an out-of-town swim meet or tri in which I am not entered presents another set of scheduling challenges not only for training but for the normal family dynamics as well.
Sadly, the husband gets the shortest end of the scheduling stick.  Largely due to his current shift assignment, but sometimes (frequently) it just happens.  As any person who has completed the training for any 140.6 event, the training is lengthy, and the athlete can often be accused of being selfish and self-absorbed, self-centered, etc.  It takes conscious, deliberate effort on my part to not be "turning into a pumpkin" by 8:00 p.m. every night he is off duty.  Honestly, that can be very difficult if that day held an early 4-6 hour work out.  And, social friend time?  I'm pretty sure my only friends are now people who are willing to ride or run long.
The important thing to remember is that balance is vital.  The mantra, "all things in moderation" plays an key role in balancing training versus family versus life.  I make sure that my athletes know and live by the standard of "Life and family first, everything else second, training next."  Training should compliment your lifestyle, not dictate it.  You are not defined by the distance you race.  It is a part of who you are, not the entire you.
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