Sunday, July 09, 2006


.... for distance athletes.

How do you keep your training from taking over your life (and the life of everyone you associate with?)

How do you keep your life from taking over your training?

What do you do when you have a 60-mile ride scheduled, and you've already rearranged your schedule for that week because of family needs, and then someone wants to add another family activity, on the day you changed your long ride to? I'm afraid if I say, "Sorry, I've got a long ride scheduled that day," it'll sound like my training means more to me than my family.

And if you practice a religion, what do you do when it occurs to you to wonder what would happen if you spent as much time and/or ardor practicing your religion as you do training for your triathlons? And how do you keep your training from becoming an idol?

What do you do when you want your priorities to be, God, spouse, family, self/training/rest, job, but realize your priorities have become training/self, job, rest, family, spouse, God? The last three vying about equally for last place?

Inquiring minds and hearts want to know.


nancytoby said...

The long sessions get blocked out on the family calendar in advance. They're fairly non-negotiable. The shorter sessions are negotiable.

nancytoby said...

Plus the training is a specific intense time period for a specific goal. It's not forever. It's work with an endpoint in sight.

runr53 said...

That is a tough question, so far I haven't had to deal with conflicts too much, the wife understands and she and the job come before the training, maybe thats why I don't "tri", hehe!

TxSkatemom said...

I'm excruciatingly lucky in that my spouse understands that the time for myself is required for me to be of any use to the family, to him, or to the job. And I wake up at o-dark-thirty most days to get the runs in, or use the TM, or do them over lunch. But it is certainly a trial, and that's with me only running. Typically, the weekends are for family, with the exception of the early-morning long run.

If I were to ever do a tri, I can see that it would totally suck in any and all spare time. Right now my drive and job are sucking all my energy, and we've got steps in play to change that.

If you find the secret, let me know!

Jack said...

There is no way to prevent training from taking over your life (and the life of everyone around you).

The best way to keep your life from taking over your training is to pamper your spouse (bribes work), work overtime to keep the boss happy and try to limit friends outside your running group.

For the third - just agree and go running, riding etc.

The religion issue has been on my mind lately, I feel the guilt - I thnk it is a sign. I keep my training from becoming my idol by spending time praying while I run and make sure I allot time for study/prayer/meditation. I also try to race too often on Sundays.

Ahhh, the last one is rough. I think it is a continuous balancing act - see point two above. When we figure it out we need to write a book - it will be a best seller!

Vickie said...

Yes, I think Nancy has it right. Its not forever, and if you let it get out of hand, then obviously you will know it and pay for it later. You have to communicate with those you live with or else they do feel left out and as if all you do is train.

Christine said...

Training can be spiritual. Marriages can benefit from healthy, well exercised spouses. Taking care of yourself makes you a happier, well rounded person and everyone in your life benefits from that.

Kewl Nitrox said...

Great (but tough) questions, and very close to my heart in my stated ambitions of Intentional Discipleship and Triathlons. :)

In my case, I think the key is to PRIORITISE God first - each time that I have remembered to do that, the rest sorts itself out. Conversely, when I go too long de-prioritizing my time with God, things tend to fall out of wack. What helps me is to keep in mind that I don't want things to go out of wack and then have to spend even more time fixing things. This is not to say that I don't miss QT, I still do sometimes, but the God, in His grace, always brings me back. :)

There is a big underlying issue here of "guilt" or of feeling guilty. I am pretty sure that Jesus came so we don't have to feel guilty so it can't be a good thing. ;) "Prioritizing" to me means putting something (someone) first, which may not mean spending MOST of your time on what is the 1st priority. I.e. I feel that as long as I have allowed for my quiet time (QT) with God, I am perfectly happy to spend 4 X the time spent in QT on a nice bike ride, because I think we can choose to experience God in our lives all the time, not just that 30mins or 1 hour of QT. Having said that, I have also found QT to be critical to maintaining my balance in life.

The family/spouse side is trickier. In the weekends, I tend to train when the wife and kids nap. Often, this means training at 2pm to 5pm or so, which is the HOTTEST period in tropical Singapore - which means I have no training partners. Next year, R1 may drop his nap time, and training time could be a challenge - I may actually have to wake up at o dark thirty. :( Weekdays, I try to run at least once at lunch in the gym, or in the early evening when the wife and kids are at the playground and they don't really need me.

Maybe you can involve the spouse/family? Like plan a picnic 50-60 miles away, bike there to meet the family, and bike back afterwards? What I do sometimes in family gatherings is to ask my wife to take the kids there by car and I then run or bike there to meet them a little later. Most friends/family would understand that you are trying hard to squeeze time to train and making time to meet them, so they will get to accept you arriving late. Just make sure that when you arrive, your focus is on the famly/friends and not on after exercise stretching, nutrition, etc. When you are with the family/friends, you gotta switch to "family/friends" mode. :)

Sorry for a LONG comment, but like I said, a subject very close to my heart.

Geek Girl said...

I agree with Jack. I was crossing my fingers for having my prep period at the end of of the day, just so I could do some running at that time.

Ellie said...

Very thoughtful comments, everyone.

Kewl Nitrox -- prioritizing God and a QT go right along with "Seek first the kindgom of God and all else shall be given to you besides."

Rachel said...

Haven't figured it out quite yet. However, when I start to feel overwhelmed, I start crossing things off my list until I free up a me-day. I then schedule a day where I do NOTHING. That always re-energizes me. There's nothing that can't wait until tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am responding anonymously because this is the first time I have ever talked about religion "publicly" and I'm not comfortable.

I just wanted to say, that I agree 100% with Christine that training can be very spritual. And I am taking a moment to expand on it. Just like people sing in church (or religious ceremonies) to feel closer to God.... well can you sing? I can't, but I do swim bike and run. Just by reading your blog, one sees the deep respect and love you have for nature, and that your training clearly celebrates that. in fact...your choice to blog and share photos actually underscores it, IMO!

In some religions , work is revered because honest work is considered to be an extension of "God's work". Well that is a Lutheran concept anyway. Training could be looked upon as honest work, if you are indeed honest with yourself about how much it encompasses your life.

There are many, many opportunities to take your experiences of training and apply them to the principles of your religion. What are those principles? helping others? Listening to those who need an ear? Lending emotional support? Enriching your community? The list goes on, but there are so many ways to look outside yourself during training and serve both God and yourself.