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Finding Balance With Family, Work and Training

Finding Balance Family Work Training Run Tri Bike Magazine Sports Pscychology

Whether you’re training for your first endurance event or you’re a veteran endurance athlete, planning for races always takes time and dedication. Many training programs start at least four to six months before race day and require a large amount of commitment throughout this time. Commitment to train takes time, preparation, and balance. This balance refers to harmonizing your training life with other life demands, such as family, friends, work, and hobbies. Finding balance with family, work and training may seem impossible but it can be the key to your success.

For some athletes, this is a struggle endured resulting in additional anxiety and stress. Finding balance is critical to assist in both the physical and mental aspects of training.

The hours spent each day dedicated to training is something fellow endurance athletes understand. Those early morning workouts, late evening sessions, missing out on certain personal events, balancing training around work meetings and schedules, and trying to make it all fit within a 24-hour window each day! That’s a lot to take on, no matter your experience level as an endurance athlete.

If balancing the demands of a family is essential to you, it’s necessary to start the conversation with the people who matter to you. Do your family members understand what you’ve committed to completing? Do they know the level of dedication to your training program and race calendar? 

Having a support system is so important! Take the time to explain to your family why you decided to train and sign up for the race(s). Tell your family how they can show you support throughout the next few months and on race day. Ask them what questions or concerns they have and how you can reciprocate support in your role in the family.

Recognizing the demands of your work are also crucial as an endurance athlete. Work travel, meetings, commutes, workdays, presentations, etc., are unique to each athlete but require proper planning of race training and the race calendar around these work requirements.

So, how do you balance both worlds as an endurance athlete? Try implementing some of these suggested tips:

Time Management is Key!

Productivity and efficiency are essential during this time. A suggestion is to use a planner and include your daily training sessions, family schedule, and work requirements. Have everything at your fingertips. Schedule each day in advance in hourly increments so that you can plan appropriately. 

Set Boundaries

In order to keep the relationship between your training and your family and work, it’s necessary to develop healthy boundaries.

  • What are you not willing to miss out on due to your training?
  • Which days are too busy with work and/or family activities to work out?
  • What is the earliest or latest for you to work out where you are not sacrificing sleep?
  • How far are you willing to travel for a race or training session?

Share Your Training Schedule and Race Calendar

Communication with your support system is vital. Avoid hiding your training plans! Be open and clear about your training schedule. Within a shared family calendar, include dates, times, travel, etc. Having everything in one spot can assist in communication and clarity among all members.

Prioritize! 

Identify the most essential element in your life that should always come first. Whatever that is, that should be the main focus of each day. Examine how you will adjust your training sessions around this priority. When planning daily schedules, prioritize your top three items that need to be completed or accomplished for the day. Consider how you will achieve these items and what that means for your schedule. Also, remember, it’s okay to say no to things that don’t align with your priorities!

Be Realistic

It’s easy to think you can do it all! You can’t be a working parent or partner that is also training for an amazing endurance event and have all the time in the world to train, adjust to family schedules, and meet work deadlines. You might be able to do this for a short period, but after a while, you will most likely experience burnout. Keep it simple! Work on accepting your life right now and all the elements that have made you who you are. Be grateful for what is in your life! Schedule yourself for success instead of limiting yourself to frustrations for not being present or accomplishing goals.

Finding balance with family, work and training isn’t impossible but it will take some time and energy. It is also not going to always be the same, so being flexible and learning to adjust will help. Being proactive and communicative with your employers/employees, family members and training partners will also help in finding balance but keep in mind that balance doesn’t mean a specific percentage for each thing on each day. Finding balance with family, work and training may mean that on some days it is 100% family and on others it is 75% training and 25% work. The percentages will change daily but knowing that is going to happen will help you find that sweet spot.

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Dr JoAnne Bullard Run Tri Bike Magazine Doctor of Sport and Performance Psychology

JoAnne Bullard is a Doctor of Sport and Performance Psychology and a Certified Mental Performance Consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. She is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

She serves as a tenured assistant professor at Rowan University and is the owner of Absolute Fitness, LLC.  Her goal is to provide a holistically applied approach for clients through performance psychology consulting. She has experience working with athletes of all ages, including endurance athletes, in individual and group sessions.  Her research areas include mindfulness, performance anxiety, goal setting, coping strategies, and mental well-being of athletes.

She has completed five marathons, numerous half-marathons, and is always looking for her next race.