Ironman's a balancing act

This is how my morning rolls sometimes,
running out the door with my 2nd or 3rd breakfast. 
Have you ever wondered what Ironman training entails or how people do it?  The day of 140.6 doesn't sound so bad, but it’s the training that takes up the most time.  I am happily married (4.5 years), no kids, renting a condo in an urban area, working full-time (at a rehab hospital as a student fulfilling my fieldwork clinical requirement) and these factors alone make daily life challenging to balance.  We don’t have a lot of responsibilities and makes me wonder how people do it working full-time as a parent AND their job AND as a triathlete! There’s something called planning, time-management and prioritizing.  The balance also requires dedication, discipline and focus. 

I’m in it to finish not to win a spot on the podium.  At the same time, those of us that are in it to finish don’t want to be at the bottom of the pack either.  So, it requires us to listen to our bodies: physiologically and physically.  A spike in the heart rate means slow down; muscle cramping often means electrolytes or hydrate; musculoskeletal discomfort means readjust your stroke, pedal, and/or steps.  Pain, dizziness, heat exhaustion often means…stop! Training is done on various levels that translate into XX amount of hours in the week.  Triathletes can choose their own training plans whether it was free or they paid for it with a coach.  I chose my own free plan online via and often modify things according to my schedule.  The important thing I keep in mind is to listen to my body along the way.  Another tip I have learned from others is to not ‘freak’ out if you miss a training day(s).  However, it’s a whole different story if you’re training to qualify. 
On July 13, I was simply happy to finish my 2nd
Half-Ironman (Muncie 70.3)
19 minutes faster than my last half!! 
Here’s a glimpse of my current training schedule as an amateur triathlete:

Monday: Off to recover my muscles, take a mental break, or simply do something low impact such as swimming for 30 min.  I usually take a full break.

Tuesday: Swim and bike

Wednesday:  Bike and run

Thursday:  Swim and run

Friday: Swimming…since I feel I’m a strong swimmer, I take this day to do cross-training with low impact such as an elliptical for about an hour.  Sometimes, I will replace running with the elliptical during the week to give my joints a break. 

Saturday:  LONG rides (4-7 hours), if time I’ll squeeze in a run or swim or I will have a race as part of my training. 

Sunday: Sandwich workout (run/bike/run)…lately I haven’t been able to do this on Sunday but rather squeeze it in on a Wednesday since I’m traveling for races on the weekends.  For months I did LONG runs on Sundays (about 2 hours). 

My training buddies cheered for me as I rolled in
after accomplishing my first 80-mile ride!

What are the total hours by the end of the week? Somewhere around 14-15.  I’m supposed to be doing more at this point in training, but sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow for more especially if I have a race or out of town on the weekends nor do I want to put additional stress on my body.  I do, however, get antsy and very anxious if I don’t keep up.  Tuesdays-Thursdays are typically flexible since I can switch it around based on how I feel, the weather, and social things.  I will train 2-3 hours during those days. 

Do we have a life?
Yes, but depends on who you ask.  Since my clinical work hours are 7a-3:30p I have time in the afternoons to squeeze in 2-3 hours and get home to be with my husband.  It’s hard being married and training but my husband is VERY supportive and provides me with more than I could ask for.  Therefore, I make time for this special man.  Divorce is not uncommon among triathletes because it does take two to tango.  I do come home sometimes at 8-9p and have time for dinner and bed.  Rest is just as important for recovery so I do go to bed early around 9-9:30p since I have to get up at 5:30a for work.  Needless to say, I make an extra effort to spend a few date nights with my husband each week especially the weekends that I’m home.  We love trying out new restaurants, going to baseball games and attending local events.  In addition, destination races allow us to spend time together and relax together after the race. 

My husband and I spending a Sunday night watching
the Baptism festival at our Church. 
My friends (near and far) are also important to me.  I, make an effort to call, text, or check in with them.  It’s hard sometimes especially if there are exciting things going on.  I am truly blessed to have such strong support among my friends.  Some of my local friends even train with me although we may not be in the same race together, end the end, we’re all pretty much training for half and full Ironman. 

Lastly, I’m not the person to go to for advice on training and juggling parenthood, but I sure do admire those folks!   I will often ask them how they do it and of course it’s all about time management.  I think parents are often better at training because they are used to having so much going on and balancing their lives.  I used to watch my dad running races and remember thinking it would be so cool to be out there with him.  There were times I got to workout with him whether by feet or by bike.  I LOVED being a daughter on the sidelines.  In fact, if I were able to have a child someday…I would love to inspire them as well.  My husband enjoys seeing the kids at the races supporting their parents and running next to them at the finish, and I love seeing kids on the sidelines holding up signs cheering for their mommy or daddy. 

My daddy running his half marathon in Louisville, KY
Kentucky Derby Festival Mini-Marathon
3 of his kids cheering for him on the sidelines
Training for an Ironman is not too bad but it does make some of us look forward to having other parts of our lives back after it’s over.  I have heard of post-Ironman depression though.  A lot of triathletes will even take a vacation after the race.  Unfortunately, I’ll be going back to work day 2 after my first Ironman.   My clinical training involves transferring patients…uh oh.  I also know that triathletes have weaker immune systems after an Ironman so it’s important to recover well since they are at higher risk of getting sick.  Some will even say avoid traveling a few days after especially flying.  Looks like I’ll be stocking up on Emergen-C packs!

Quote of the day:  Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it.  ~ Lord Chesterfield

Bible verse of the day  "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."  ~ Psalm 90:12 


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