Updated: May 15, 2018
As much as the world has moved on, we don’t live in an equal world and often it is women who are responsible for the majority of the child care. We give birth, our bodies change, and our priorities change and it can be very difficult to get back to being the athlete that we once were (or once thought we could be).
We were invited to take part in a podcast about how busy mums fit in their training and it prompted me to write this blog post! You can listen to the podcast here
· Let go!
Sometimes the hardest thing is relinquishing some of the decision making and allocating additional responsibility to others. Ask your partner or friends to help you make time to exercise. Even Wonder Woman wouldn’t be expected to juggle child care, work, family, social and exercise without some assistance!
· Make your goal realistic
Setting a realistic goal is your key to successful training. If you have just gone back to work after maternity leave it is unlikely that you will have the time or the energy to train for an Iron Distance event, but you will probably be able to train for a quality result in a Sprint or Standard Distance, depending on your starting point. Equally, if your children are sitting GCSEs and A Levels this year, this might not be the year to hit your first Iron Distance in July.
· Make a plan
Sit down and make a plan each week and programme your training into this plan. Look at your work, family and social responsibilities and be realistic about where you will be able to fit your training in.
Don’t neglect recovery and sleep. Your body needs to rebuild and adapt in order to improve – not just from your training load but from the challenges of every day life! Don’t replace sleep with training!!!
Also plan your meals and shopping at the start of the week to save you time each day.
· Don’t be over ambitious
Endurance sport is about consistency. Three well planned sessions every week will bring more gains than 6 sessions one week and none the next.
Be honest about how much you can train, and what times you train the best. If you are a morning person, evaluate what training sessions you can get in before work, or after the school run, or over the weekend.
Don’t set yourself up to fail! Think about what excuses you generally make and ensure that you set up a training plan that you are most likely to complete.
· Be creative
Triathlon training doesn’t have to be mainstream swim/bike/run sessions. You can design sessions on the turbo and run up and down the stairs as a brick session whilst your baby sleeps…. Or you can do some hand weights, HIIT training or Yoga whilst your toddler is playing (they may want to join in however). Integrate strength and conditioning exercises into your daily routine – calf raises whilst you clean your teeth, squats whilst you dry up or a pull up on a pull up bar every time you make a cup of tea.
Share child care with your friends - swap children whilst you swim, bike or run and then return the favour for them when they want some time for themselves.
Use party invites and play dates to your advantage, or buy a buggy you can run with. Mel used games of exercise tig and Kate resorted to paying for a tutoring club that happened to be opposite her local pool. Many gyms have crèches, or classes for older kids where your children are well looked after and you can have the time to train.
· Involve your children in your training
Once your child can ride a bike use this time to run whilst they have fun out on local trails. Or, once your child is a little older, they can run with you for short distances.
· Be prepared!
Always have your swim gear in the car so that you can seize the opportunity to swim if a window opens.
Put your exercise gear on in the morning and get your exercise done early in the day. This is a great technique if you are self employed
If you work in an office, use lunchtimes for short training sessions, or go training before or after work to save on finding extra time or childcare. Some employers will help you by negotiating a longer lunch break if you explain why you need to train.
Bike or run to work where possible or join a gym near work.
· Give yourself permission
Taking some time for yourself is not ‘selfish’! One thing we have learnt that mums are really good at is feeling guilty, and we don’t think that taking time to exercise is something you should feel guilty about.
A happy mum means a happy child, and by looking after yourself you are setting a great example.
A parent who has a strong work ethic, lives healthily and reaches their goals is a brilliant role model whether your child is a toddler or a teenager.
Exercise is a great stress reliever and mental health benefits are enormous, clearing our brains from the stresses and strains of work and family.
· Believe in yourself!
You are brilliant and you deserve this!
Kate Offord is a BTF Level 3 Coach, Tutor and Head Coach at Manchester Triathlon Club. She has 2 children aged 8 and 7. Mel Hayes is 2017 World Champion Long Distance Duathlete AG50-54, regular GB age grouper and podiumed at IMUK 2017 in her age group. She is also a BTF Level 2 Coach and has 2 teenaged children
Kate and Mel own Smiling Tri Coach www.smilingtricoach.co.uk