Multisport training, like any other type of athletic endurance training, requires commitment to a plan. If you’re married, it also means scheduling your training to keep your relationship from suffering neglect. When you have both children and spouse in the picture, balance becomes even more critical to everyone’s well being.
If you’re treading in these waters for the first time, it’s important to share your plan with those who’ll be affected by “your new found passion” for training in multiple sports. What follows are my suggestions for keeping the peace in the household, while still maintaining a training schedule that helps you meet your goals. Since I’m male, I will use the word “she” in this case as if I’m referring to a female spouse. Hey, I gotta go with what I know, right?
Let Her Know!!
Let her know what you’re training will entail and what the goal will be. When you start spending more time at the gym, pool, on the bike or running, it’s a definite time to have her on your side. Just saying you want to do a triathlon for example, may not be enough. When she says, “Tri-ath-a-what?” you know you’ve got some “splaining” to do, Lucy. If it’s something you’ve been curious about for some time, and she knows this, then your approach might be that you think the time is right to test the waters. On the other hand, if you’ve just found out “we’re pregnant” as the saying goes, you could be in for more than you bargained for and might want to reevaluate your timing. I’m just saying…
Be Transparent With Your Schedule
Our family uses a whiteboard calendar to keep track of everybody’s commitments throughout the month. If you can simply jot down your schedule for the week, everyone will know why you’re not at the dinner table. I put morning workouts towards the top of the day, and evening towards the bottom. Simple words like swim, bike or run in the appropriate areas will do wonders at keeping things from becoming a surprise, when you’re expected to be at that violin recital everyone else is heading to.
If you can involve her willingly, in some way, she’ll feel like she’s a part of your new found lifestyle, and resentment towards your training will be lessened. Maybe you can solicit her help in planning weekly meals to ensure you’re getting enough energy, then offer to do the grocery shopping. Depending on what length of event you’re training for, food can play a bigger part in how you feel on a daily basis. Nobody wants to hang out with someone who’s continually cranky due to a lack of energy. If you feel there’s something in your nutrition that needs tweaking, the “I’d like to try…” approach works ten times better than the “Why didn’t you put xxx on the list?”
Is There A Common Interest Of Participation?
Does she participate in any of the sports you’re training in? I’m very fortunate in that my wife is a triathlete, too, who’s been working her way up the distance ranks. She found a passion in swimming, learning only a few years back, and is now pretty fearless in the water. One thing she’d always do is treat her goggles with Baby Shampoo after each use. I’d never heard of this, and just suffered with fogging goggles as a fact of life. One day I asked her if she’d do the same thing to my goggles. Soon enough she was asking me to hand them over so she could get them ready for their next session. It was this little thing she did, that solved such an annoyance, and made me think about her when I’d swim “fog-free”. Let her know it’s appreciated too.
Do Your Share
Training does not give you a pass on things like dirty dishes, toilets or laundry. You have to continue to pitch in and do your share. Since the chances are that your pile of dirty laundry and water bottles will be growing, expect to do what needs to be done to keep them taken care of, and then some. You’re tired, that’s a given, but life goes on. No one is going to automatically clean your favorite training jersey, water bottle or bike shorts. Step up as you usually do and do what needs to be done.
Rest Days Are Not The Same As Recovery Days
Rest days are total “off” days from training. They are typically built into the schedule preceding high volume or high intensity days. These are the days to plan for activities within your other life, that of husband, father, gardener etc. They might not always happen on the same day, so this is where being transparent becomes important. Is there something she’s been wanting to do with you? Is there a movie she wants you to see? Maybe she just wants to go for a walk and enjoy some time with you? This is the time to do it, and do so without fuss or bother. You might be tired out, but you have an opportunity to spend time with her and make her feel important. And unless she asks, she’s not going to want to hear a play-by-play rundown of the last training week. Give it a break, reconnect if only for a little while, and enjoy the off day.
Keep The Peace
You may find that your training requires some pretty early morning wake-ups. If you plan ahead and have your gear ready the night before, you can avoid having to turn lights on to find that missing piece of gear. Up and out the door at 5:00 a.m. can be an un-Godly hour for a swim or run, much less getting up period, for the rest of the family. Minimizing their sleep disturbance is the goal. They will be much happier with you. I put my gear bag in another room that minimizes light pollution into their bedrooms.
At The Race
Asking for help from other family members can pay big dividends in your sanity too. If you’re traveling to a big race that includes some family-vacation time, have them search local attractions that might be of interest to them. Being able to tune out of your schedule leading up to race day is healthy for them and for you, as well. In the case of an Ironman event, the athletes have certain responsibilities and commitments (check-ins, briefings, test-swims etc.) that pull you in different directions and can eat up a fair amount of time while standing in line. Make sure they have something to occupy their time and catch their breath as well.
Your most supportive fans are usually the ones living under the same roof as you. Be good to them and life as a multisport athlete will be good to you.