6 Key Factors for Endurance Training: Part 4 (Life Balance)
Training, whether for a 5k race or Ironman, can be challenging to fit into our busy lives. We have jobs, families, homes to upkeep, friends to hang out with, as well as a multitude of other "adulting" things on our plate.
Training for your sport alone requires time and energy - both mental and physical. Then, there are the other things that go with training:
pre-workout routine (stretching)
additional sleep | technically, as training increases, we should be getting more sleep to aid in our recovery - see my previous blog on “The Importance of Sleep”
bodywork (massages) | we should be having this done to ensure our bodies are staying fresh, and we are taking care of the muscles we rely on for our sport
With all of this, how does one keep balance in their life? It certainly can be challenging, and the reality is sometimes things have to "give." One thing to keep in mind is what "gives" should vary. If you are an athlete that has a job, a family, friends, and a "honey-do list," your training may not always take priority. I have had more than one athlete talk to me about how "their family doesn’t understand" the training. Although that might not be true, as the athlete, you may want to consider how much your training is impacting their lives.
If you have friends, family, a spouse or significant other (hopefully you have at least 1 of these), here are something to consider and keep in mind:
If you have a spouse or significant other, and are considering signing up for your race season, before you hit "submit" and spend your money, talk to him/her. Ultimately, this will impact them to some degree - especially if this is a big change from your "norm." If you typically spend Friday nights at the bar, realize that you will likely have a workout to complete on Saturday; so, if you are wanting to get the most out of that workout, that Friday night "routine" might (probably should) change.
Even if you do not have a spouse or significant other, let your close friends know what you are doing, as it will likely affect them to some degree, as well. Hopefully, they will be supportive of your goals/endeavors. If not, they may not be the friends you thought they were.
Again, if you have family, depending on the ages of your kids, if training is going to affect the time you spend with them, be sure they are in on the conversation, as well. It is amazing what can happen if they are part of the decision versus you simply telling them what you are doing. If you normally spend quality time with your family on Saturday, and now you are spending that time training, they can feel like your training is a "bad thing" because it is taking you away from what they are used to. The same is true for your spouse/significant other. Ultimately, if you can keep them on your side by doing small things to show they are still a priority in your life, they are more appreciative and receptive of what you're doing. If you know what your spouses' Love Languages are, keep those in mind when you start your training. If you don’t know, I would highly recommend reading The 5 Love Languages before you embark on your training. You might be amazed at how much you learn that will help during stressful training periods.
Let your family (or anyone that might be directly affected by your training) know ahead of time what your plan is from week to week. If you have a big workout planned and will be unable to spend that "normal" time with them, let them know they are important and find some other options to spend quality time with them. Make sure they feel they are just as important as your training, but for the time being, some things have to change. Once you are in heavy training, the challenge may be "staying awake." But just like training, realize your family is allowing you to train and it is disruptive to their lives. Be kind to them!
Plan a vacation with the family after your big event. If this is something that works for your family and your budget, it is a great reward for their patience while you spend hours away training for your race/race season.
Invite them to join you for some of your training. If it is at all possible, this is a fun way to get them involved. Consider inviting them on a long run - even if that means they are biking while you are running. This is a great way to spend time together. And how awesome would it be to have some company during some of your training sessions?
On the other hand, training sometimes has to take a back seat, and if that is the case, know that it will be ok (as long as it doesn’t happen on a frequent basis). Sometimes you have to alter your training to accommodate the other parts of your life. If you are following an online training program or a training program from a book, this becomes a bit more difficult, because you don’t have anyone to talk to about how to alter your program, which can become another stressor. If you have a coach, talk to them when things come up. Let your coach know if you are feeling outside stress. A good coach will help you work through this - it is what we do! It is our job to help ensure your training program is working for you/your life!
The most important thing to remember is we do this for fun! If what we are doing isn’t fun, or becomes less than fun, a re-evaluation is likely in order. Figure out what has happened that has taken the fun out of training? Training has many benefits, and racing is the icing on the cake, so above everything else, make sure you are having fun!