by Jared Fayer, Triathlete, Father and HoneyMaxx Ambassador
One of the biggest questions I get from friends, family, and even other triathletes is “how do I balance all of my training needs with raising my 2 year old son”. The honest answer is, I have no idea. Before my son was born, it was easy. I would just go for a run or bike ride whenever I wanted and I wouldn’t have to worry about spending a while in the pool since I didn’t have to get home to help raise my son. Now over the past 2 years of my son being born, I have figured out some tips and tricks that I use and some advice that I gave to myself that I’m sure will help others going through what I am going through.
The thing that helps the most is having a supportive wife. Clearly, I couldn’t come close to the amount of training I do without her agreeing. So if she isn’t on board and happy, then I couldn’t do what I do. I also realized that my training takes up a lot, and I mean A LOT, of time. So my wife and I have made a deal.
The amount of time that I get to work out in a given day, she gets that time to do whatever she wants. So if I go for a 2 hour run, she gets a 2 hour block where she can do whatever she wants and is baby-free. This way, neither one of us feels like we are doing more than the other and we don’t get mad at each other for thinking the other isn’t helping. This also allows us to enjoy the time we have since we know it will typically be uninterrupted because the other will eventually get their own time.
I’ve also found that being very organized in my day to day life is crucial. While this sounds like an easy thing to do, anyone who has a young child knows plans typically change. Trying to find the best possible time to work out is critical. So figuring out if this will be in the morning when our son is usually at this best, during his nap when there is a period of down time, or at night after he goes to sleep is something that I have to think about constantly. I need to figure out when I can actually get my training in.
When it comes to balancing my actual workouts, I go against the normal strategies than what is typically suggested for long distance athletes. I prefer workouts that are short, sweet, and intense for the majority of my training with almost zero “easy days”. I like to keep my individual workouts around an hour or less, however, the intensity is typically pretty high. This allows me to get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time. My bike interval workouts are about as intense as you can make them, and my runs are usually in the high end of training zones. During the weekend when I typically have more time, I drop my intensity and increase the time of my workouts. These workouts even feel easier because the intensity is lower than during the week, so I can even push the pace a bit. And finally, rest days are truly rest days where I get to run around and play with my son. Since I don’t have to fit a workout in, I can take the majority of responsibilities and enjoy the time I have with him.
When it comes to balancing what races to do each year, a conversation with my wife usually takes place. When picking my A races for the year, we tend to make it an event instead of just a race. For example, 2 years ago for my Half Iron “A” race, we chose I would race in Maine. We rented a house for the week, brought the baby and had a vacation around my race. It worked out perfectly. This year, I am racing the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. Since that is a far trip, my wife is going to come with me and after the race we will spend a few days going to wine country and spend some time relaxing. This way, my wife can get something out of all my racing and enjoy it as well. She’s hoping I race one day in Hawaii so she can come with me for that also.
Transitioning from training and racing without having a baby to now having one isn’t as difficult as some might think. It’s a challenge and one that needs some adjusting to get used to, but the bottom line is knowing what is the most important to you and making sure you are making the most out of both the time you have with your family and your training time. You can’t fake it with either.