After about two years of running and 1 year of triathlon training, I feel pretty comfortable with applying my training schedule to my busy lifestyle. I’m a mother of 3 children, ages 12, 8 and 7. I work full-time in Information Technology and also work up to 30 hours running my own urban farm. So, where do I find the time to train? The answer is somewhere within the same 24-hours that we all get. When I first started looking for this “hidden time” which I knew had to exist yet seemed so elusive I wrote down all 24 hours and left a blank slot. Since my responsibilities change depending on the day, I had to make up sheets for different days. For instance, I don’t have to drive the kids to school on Sunday and I don’t need have 4 hours of free time on Tuesdays. Then I started filling in the known things: sleep time, work time, shower time, drive time, reoccurring appointments, etc.
After looking at the schedules, it seemed I had a lot of time where I was idle. I looked into that time a little more closely and added things that I do and need to continue doing but don’t necessarily think about as tasks: praying (salat), helping with homework, making dinner, meal prep, cleaning, playing with the kids and spending time with my husband and family. I still had lots of blank spaces most days. It made me wonder what I was doing to fill up the time. Was I daydreaming, mindlessly eating, doodling, standing in front of my closet bewildered? I really don’t know and I never really found out. I think a lot of the time was spent watching TV and logged into social media. I ended up cutting television time to about 2 hours a week while social media time is spent while I’m waiting for something (like a pot to boil, in line at the DMV, or dare I say it…I’m amongst friends, right?… the bathroom).
With all of theses new found blocks of time, I found it easier to schedule my workouts and training throughout my day. I use my lunch period to either swim at the YMCA, attend a 45-minute spin class that is a mere 3-minute drive from my job or run up to 5 miles through downtown. After work, I will come home and either prepare dinner or help with homework. Afterwards, I might lift weights with friends, ride my bike on the trainer at home and/or go for a run around the neighborhood with my reflective gear and headlamp. Most days I work out twice a day. Only once per week will I work out 3 times in one day and that is usually to make up for a missed workout.
Some times life gets in the way of training. Kids get sick, issues at work, birthdays, anniversaries and the overwhelming urge to be a slug can all make training difficult to accomplish. I have found that two things have helped me greatly when it comes to staying on track. First, I make sure my workouts are an actual appointment on my calendar. I set a private appointment on my work calendar and a reminder set on my phone which also displays on my Garmin Forerunner 920XT (fancy, right?). Second, I have learned to be flexible. I have kettle bells at home, I have a bike trainer and I have the ability to swap around my training when it makes more sense not to run outside during an ice storm or lightening has the pool closing early. Sometimes, you have to “roll with the punches”, as my mom used to tell me. It really took some time no learn not to get all bent out of shape when training didn’t go as planned or when things got in the way. I think that lesson may be the most valuable thing I can take with me on race day!