Training with kids...

My boys have this book called Two Crazy Pigs. It tells the story My 3 Crazy Boys, Issaqua Tri 2009of 2 pigs on a farm that are really silly and slap-happy. OK, they are nuts: they play all sorts of silly practical jokes, bounce all off the walls, and wreak havoc everywhere they go. This book is the embodiment of my children.

While I love my "Three Crazy Boys" as much as any dedicated father they can pose certain, shall we say, challenges when it comes to training, racing, and touring. These challenges contribute to my #1 enemy: consistency, or rather the lack thereof.

Here are some ramblings about how I deal with being a Triathlete, a husband, and a Dad all at the same time.

1. Scheduling

With any family your most valuable asset is time. This incredibly precious commodity is not renewable, expires on a regular schedule, and is very unforgiving. In our family we have it down to a pseudo-science involving an Excel spreadsheet, an online calendar, and my wife's incredibly important daily planner ("THE calendar", i.e. if it is not on THE calendar, it doesn't exist/happen).

We start with the "can't move/miss them" items such as school, recitals, cub scouts, etc., add-in family events like baby arrivals, baptisms, and reunions, followed closely by the kids' sporting events. From there I have an idea where I can shoe-horn in my long rides, triathlons, foot races, and bike tours. It doesn't leave me a lot of time and I do a lot of hand-wringing trying to figure out which race to do.

I was marveling at DCRainmaker's race schedule the other day (A race a month? Seriously Ray?): wow, what would it be like to train/race without kids again? My tri career started when my twins were 4.

How do I choose my races? It all starts with an Excel spreadsheet

  • List all races/rides/tours (RRTs) I have ever done or want to do arranged by date (i.e. brainstorming).
  • Highlight the RRTs that I REALLY want to do again. I have yet to do a RRT that I have crossed off my list.
  • Line those dates up with all the other family/school/church/scout events and you end up with... 3 triathlons, 1 century, and 1 week-long bike tour.

After this process is over some of my favorte RRTs don't make the cut. This year the Issaquah Tri had to be cut due to a family event, even though I have done this race 4 years running. My 9 year old was understanding but disappointed (he loves the Kids Tri).

How do I fit in training? When ever I can. It usually ends up being early-morning or lunchtime workouts with the bulk of it as bike commuting.

2. Training

When my kids were really small training was actually easier: they weren't communicating yet and I could very easily strap the twins into the double-jogging stroller while boy #1 rode his bike behind me. Have you ever tried to do hill runs pushing 40-50 pounds of giggling/wiggling cargo? Talk about a workout!

For bike commuting I'll write a more extended version of this later: I live 9 mile from work. My route takes me down a big hill, across a valley, and then up another big hill, then reversed 8 hours later when I go home. this happens 2-5x per week depending on schedules, weather (I don't ride when the temp is under 32F), and, of course, illnesses.

3. Illness

My kids dutifully bring home from school, play group, church, and the park every bug and germ known to man. Boy #3 has this annoying habit of putting a finger in BOTH nostrils and seeing how far he can... nevermind. When school is in session is gets 10x worse. I can count on 1 hand the number of "well" weeks I have had since last Labor Day. My off-season training has been terrible, thanks to both illness and injury.

How do I deal with it? I don't, really. At least I don't deal with it very well. I have resorted to an interesting combination of Mucinex-D, Ibuprophen, and, my favorite, NyQuil. The Mucinex and Ibuprophen allow me to function during the day and even commute via bike. The NyQuil knocks me over and allows for a minimal night's sleep (notice I didn't say "acceptable" or "decent"?).

What I usually end up with is an inconsistent but tolerable off-season, and, when school lets out and the illnesses subside a little bit, more regular training and actual progress during the summer. I did prove this works last year when I upped the ante and did my first Olympic Tri.


As you can see I have a long way to go. My race schedule is always written in pencil and open to modifications as our dynamic schedule evolves. This year is not very old but I already see better progress than last year.

Have you dealt these issues? Reply below with your comments, I'd love to hear how you deal with these issues.