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How I balance Family, work, and training

Finding time to get everything done is never easy. As a full time working momma, I have some big goals in life in my career and at various races and OCR (Obstacle Course Races). I find on a week to week basis, I am trying to find the right balance of work / personal and training time. I know that this can be a struggle not just for women but for men as well, as not all of us are in the league to get sponsored to race. For me, Obstacle Course racing and running events is a stress release, a time where I can leave it all at the start line and go out and have fun. I am serious when I say have fun, as I always enjoy being in the mud and creating muddy memories with friends. What happens on course stays on course.

Getting back to the topic at hand, I am the type of person that likes to plan her race schedule almost a year in advance (so I can budget finances, and try out different races and challenges). Take this year for example, I signed up for as many early bird rates as I could so that I could plan for the travel budget, and to take advantage of huge discounts. I like seeing the bigger picture, as this helps me look at the types of training I need for my events, and to work with my training coach to ensure that I am getting the most out of each work out (no matter how long or short they are).

Yes I did say it, I work with a coach. For a couple of years I tried to train on my own and sometimes with friends, but I noticed that although I was making progress, I wasn’t hitting my peak performance and in a few races I was beyond exhausted and sore after them. I didn’t quite understand why, as I thought I was putting in enough work (and I was discouraged that things like running speed weren’t coming super naturally for me). This added an extra element to my training, as I could focus on key areas and had a plan of attack (let’s face it, I am the type of woman that needs to have a set schedule to follow).

Now armed with a coach and training plan in hand, I had to sit back and look at my schedule. I work in Information Technology, and my gig is an 8-4 Monday to Friday situation. At first I started getting up at 3:30 am to do the work outs, but then noticed by 7:30 pm I was exhausted and by 8 am I was in bed. This didn’t work as I was spending less time with my family (I have a little one at home who is 5). I then looked to a different approach. I talked to my coach and let her know that shorter work outs during the week were ideal, and that on the weekend I could commit to longer work out sessions. I was coming home from work and doing the shorter work outs, then on the weekends getting up earlier to do the longer ones – I have been on this schedule for a while, and this seems to be working ok. My husband and I also started to try and get our little one involved in the work outs as well (so we can spend time together and still get our activities in).

This seems to work best for my family for now, but may not work the greatest for others. I understand that parents may work different shifts; kids may have school and daycare or there could be any number of additional circumstances that come along – trust me I get it. It’s not always easy coming home from work depending on what happened that day to work out(I sit behind a desk for 8 hours), but I feel better after getting a good work out session in. I am up to 5 days/week training and one Obstacle Course racing class at my local gym – I can’t help it, I have gotten fond of working out and staying active. I get asked by friends how I can work out so much, and how I make it work. It’s not a simple answer but I find the time. I have been since doing squats and presses in my kitchen while cooking dinner, I will get off my bus heading home from work a few stops early to get an extra walk in before I start, and I love ticking off completed work outs (gives me a sense of accomplishment). The best piece of advice I have been given about staying motivated to get the work outs in, is to block the time off in my calendar and have “me time”. I am constantly juggling life to make sure the work outs get in, but at this point because I am used to it, it has become a part of my routine. I know not everyone has 2 hours to work out, but there are little things you can do to get exercise in. My 5 year old now even does my physio work outs with me and loves to do a little “run” around the kitchen and living room area – go figure.

To summarise this, I feel that you need to chisel out as much time as you have to get a work out in. If you can get up super early and get them in before the day takes you away, do it. It is hard, and it takes about 3 weeks to get used to it. There are also numerous free work out videos on You Tube that you can do that are 30 minutes or less. If you are feeling antsy go for a walk, swim with your kids, play at the park. It all adds up, every little bit here and there makes a difference. The best way that I have found to try and balance it all is to do what you can with the time you have, and don’t beat yourself up about not being able to get every work out in. Make a list of what commitments you have, and schedule your work outs around it. I am still trying to find a balance with work, family life and work outs, but for now I am just taking it easy one week at a time, and some days one work out at a time. It’s not always easy / fun but you can make it happen.

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