By Kara Tranter
Trying to find time to train around home-life and work can be difficult enough without throwing young children into the mix as well. However it is a reality for many of us so here is how I manage to find some guilt free time to just focus on my own health, fitness and mental well-being.
Having equipment at home such as a turbo trainer, exercise bike or treadmill can be really useful to fit in some training time around children. I am often on the turbo first thing on weekend mornings whilst my husband and children are snoozing away. Once they hear me get off the bike, they’ll come charging down and we enjoy some breakfast together. Pancakes with fruit and yoghurt is a firm favourite! You could even try mixing some Xendurance protein powder into the batter for extra recovery benefits.
During the week I tend to train once the children are in bed. My husband and I take turns cooking dinner depending on who is training or out coaching. He is a cyclist and coach himself so we’re very like-minded and supportive of each other to enable a busy schedule.
Swimming I find harder to fit in due to additional limitations on lane swimming times or lake access clashing with other clubs/activities. I make the most of flexible working so some days I’ll work longer hours and then other days I’ll take a long lunch break or come in late to fit in a swim. Obviously, this isn’t possible for everyone but it can be worth asking your employer.
When it’s better weather I enjoy going out for a run whilst my son cycles with me, this way we get to spend some quality time together and both get some fresh air too.
I like to have my plan for the week ready on a Sunday night, I might not know exactly what workout detail my coach has lined up for me for the sessions later in the week but I know which kit I need and what length of time is required. I double check the plan is feasible with my working week, my coaching sessions I deliver a couple of nights a week and the various kids clubs. This might mean I need to work from home on a particularly busy day to reduce the commute time, to gain back some valuable minutes to make dinner or squeeze a session in. I tend to have a regular plan on what sports I am doing each day, any changes or issues are flagged up to my coach who will flex it as needed but generally we stick to the same routine. Each evening I make sure I’ve got all the kit for the next day washed, swim bag packed, kids school bags & work laptop ready & lunch made before going to bed.
Always have a plan B! If I am swimming first thing, I need to be out of the house by 7:30am with the kids in tow so I can be at the pool for just gone 8am. This invariably doesn’t always happen with last minute dramas like lost glasses, traffic, or a meltdown over desperately wanting to wear the dinosaur costume to nursery. So, my plan B is to head straight to work and either swim at lunchtime or afterwork. Having my plan Bs ready mean I don’t get stressed or frustrated if plan A doesn’t happen. Sometimes plan B requires sessions to be cut short or cancelled, it happens, don’t beat yourself up about it.
Don’t worry about one missed session, that session won’t make the difference to you being mid-pack or on the podium. What does make the difference is consistency. To do that, especially with children, requires planning and organisation.
My last comment would be to be realistic with your time and energy when planning your goals. That might mean scaling back on the quantity or location of races, shorter race distances or being content with a mid-pack finish rather than a podium. The one thing you can guarantee is change; it won’t be long until you’ll have lots of extra time to train and race but you’ll never be able to rewind the clock and spend more time with with your children when they were young.
The key is to remember how important taking some “me-time” is but also balancing that with giving everything else your attention and energy too. When it is family time, your focus should be just on that; put your phone away, forget the washing pile and have fun.