Thanks for all of your great questions on my earlier post, but one came up that warranted a post of its own as I receive it quite frequently.
Mary asked, “How do you fit in/balance the all the training + work + all the things in life that need to be done (grocery shopping, home maintenance, etc.)?”
Well, Mary. I hate to disappoint, but I don’t. It’s simply impossible and I don’t even have kids!
Let’s back up a bit first. My choice to do an Ironman was a strategic decision. At this point in my life, I don’t own a house, I don’t have kids, my current job is quite steady and doesn’t require much travel, and my husband works full time and goes to school at night for his MBA (thus, is extremely busy too). When I first decided to make the jump to an Iroman (the IMAZ days), it was a conversation with my husband, my potential coach, and an open understanding that this would be a massive time commitment. Unfortunately, I don’t think my husband quite understood what we got ourselves into…twice.
One sprained ankle, one DNS, two training cycles and a year and a half later…there is no easy answer other than balance is really tough. And to be quite honest, it’s trying on a relationship. I won’t force you to wear the rose-colored glasses here: Chicken Face and I have had our fair share of arguments about time, priorities and my training.
In addition, my house is a disaster, I have worn my hair in a wet bun to work for the past four months, a Target trip is the only shopping I do, I’ve been trying to get through the same book for the last six months, I haven’t seen my non-tri friends in a really long time (thankfully they are athletes too and understand), my family reminds me how little they see me, and any social interactions that I do have are cut short by me saying, “It’s 8:30. It’s late. I gotta get home because I have a big training day tomorrow.” Quite frankly, your entire life is scheduled around your training.
But wait! Don’t go running in the other direction!
While Ironman training is no easy task, there is so much to gain from it. Outside of the physical gains, I have been introduced to so much that I wasn’t aware of before and my cup now feels full of adventure and growth. I have also found new passions that make my heart smile, for example, cycling. I am madly in love with this new sport. I’ve also discovered gorgeous places, made amazing new few friends, have learned how to be alone with my thoughts, how to overcome disappointment, and actually, how to balance my life and communicate with my husband even more than before.
Something strange also happens: when you make something a priority, it just gets done and the other priorities in your life seem to fall into place as they should be.
Wendy also asked, “When you look back at all the hours and hours of training you did, do you regret putting in that much time? Did you sacrifice husband time or family time?”
Whoa, Wendy. Deep question.
Again, to be completely honest, I often feel guilty. I know that my training requires a huge amount of time focused solely on myself. Yes, it’s selfish. My husband is great at supporting me, but he isn’t an endurance athlete himself, nor is anyone in my family. Thus, it’s just “Page being crazy” and wonder when the addiction will stop.
But no, I don’t regret the sacrifices I’ve made. Because in the end, you only regret that chances you didn’t take.
Ironman training IS a serious investment that has it’s highs and lows, but I love it. Just be honest in the time investment, make sure that it fits with your life and have a support system in place. Those people (e.g. my husband) are critical to your success, just be sure to return the favor.
Now it’s your turn: how do you try to find balance between training, life and family?