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    Posted February 3, 2012 by
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    CNN Fit Nation: Triathlon Challenge

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    Balancing Life is the Key to Success in Triathlon

    One of my favorite triathletes — TJ Tollakson — won Ironman Lake Placid in 2011. TJ is a pro triathlete who has the job of training for an Ironman. While he recently got married, he and his wife don’t have any children. While he is super fast and everyone knew he would eventually win an Ironman, the fact that he won is not what I want to focus on today. I want to look at my buddy Jeff, an everyday guy who ran his first marathon in 2011.

    Jeff is one of my oldest friends and someone I look up to. He and his cute wife Kristy have three kids. Jeff works full-time to support his family and volunteers extensively in the community. It is tough for Jeff to find the time to run and to cross-train, but like you and I, he needs to get his runs in or he will not have the fitness required to hit his goals. But he did it. He rocked his first marathon and I hope he and I can run one together in the future.

    So how do you balance family, work, training, friends, and the other dozen or so people and organizations that want your time? Is there a secret to getting everything in? I don’t think there are any secrets, but since there are only so many hours in a day, you really have to learn to cut the filler out of your life and focus on what is truly important. Let me share with you my tips on what I do to try and fit everything in.

    1. Prioritize. This is probably the most important. You need to remember that some tasks and events are more important that others. Missing your kid’s ballgames for a workout? Not a good idea. You can go to a game right after a workout, but you better be ready to cheer and make sure your kids and spouse know that they are more important that anything else.

    2. Commit. One way I commit is by putting together a workout schedule before the week begins. I know what I am supposed to do each and every day, so there is no, “well, I will just double up tomorrow and skip my workout today”. The same goes to the time that you have committed to spend with your family or at work. It would be tough to fund a tri habit on unemployment.

    3. Schedule. This one is tough. About 95% of the time I get up well before my family does and I go ride or run. I try and make it home at a decent hour so I can spend the rest of the day with them or I can get to work. My work schedule is a little more flexible than most, but there is still work that needs to be done. It is nice to get workouts in first thing in the morning so they are done for the day. I only have one child, so his schedule isn’t as tough on me as my buddy Jeff’s is on him. But, putting together a schedule for the week and coordinating with my wife means I am usually where I need to be on time.

    4. Execute. Ever since my youngest brother stole this catch-phrase from Jean Luc Picard and used it in a homemade movie, I have loved it. You have to put your plan into action. You need to set goals and get out on the road or into the pool and put in the time to accomplish them. I don’t want to sound cliché, but in endurance sports there really is no substitute for hard work. If you want to be more comfortable at a higher speed when running, you have to lace up your runners and get out on the road. If you want to average 20.0 mph on a century on your bike, you have to put your cheeks in the seat. And if you want to average 1:00/100 yards, you are going to have to get wet.

    5. Communicate. I talk with my wife at the beginning of each week to see what we have going on and when I need to be available. I make sure I try and coordinate when I get home from my long rides with my wife so I can be available to do things with the family. While I am far from perfect in this area, I think my wife appreciates it when I volunteer to lighten her load and let her do the things she loves to when I am home.

    It isn’t the comprehensive guide, but I think it is a start to at least help you think through how you can make the selfish pursuit of endurance training a little more palatable for your family.
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