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How to keep Ironman from consuming your life
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During some pillow talk before bed last night, my wife asked me: "Do you think there will ever be a time when our life doesn't revolve around your crazy workout schedule?"

I was kind of caught off-guard. I didn't really know how to answer. My wife is super accommodating to my training, considering I'm not a pro. She supports my aspirations to do Ultraman and RAAM. I think part of why she loves me and married me was because I strive for excellence. But if I'm honest with myself, it is a bit selfish to peruse these goals, especially now that we have a son. I want to continue to progress as an athlete. But I don't want my entire family's life to revolve around my personal athletic goals.

For those of who have managed to stick with triathlon and compete at a high level for a long time despite family and work obligations (I've long since abandoned social obligations), how do you manage? I considered maybe taking a year or two as a single sport athlete (cycling, which is my limiter) with perhaps just minimal running when traveling without a bike, but I don't want to abandon my quest for a 3hr marathon (especially since I'm getting close) nor stop swimming (my strength).

It's just tough.....
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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sounds like thursday this week should be a rest day
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Does your family life revolve around your workout schedule, or is that just a figure of speech?

If it does, then figure out ways to make your workout schedule revolve around your family life. Your wife will be happier, you'll be happier and I bet you'll be just as fast.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
During some pillow talk before bed last night, my wife asked me: "Do you think there will ever be a time when our life doesn't revolve around your crazy workout schedule?"


That was a not-so-subtle hint, my friend. She's unhappy. You'd better re-examine your priorities. When you're 70, will it matter more to you that you ran a 3 hour marathon and completed RAAM, or that you and your wife had a mutually fulfilling relationship?





wintershade wrote:
I think part of why she loves me and married me was because I strive for excellence.


Then strive to be an excellent husband and father, first. Find a competitive outlet that doesn't consume as much time as pursuing IM/3hrMarathon/UltraRunning/RAAM. You can be competitive on +/-6 hours a week training in any one of the 3 disciplines. If you can't stand to give up any of the 3, you can compete at a pretty high level at the Sprint distance on 8-10 hours a week, especially if you have a swim foundation. I'd start by asking her what she'd consider a "reasonable" workout schedule. Then figure out a goal you can accomplish within that. Maybe her expectations/desires aren't that far off. Or maybe you're spending WAY more time training than she'd like.
Last edited by: gary p: Feb 11, 19 16:34
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [eatmydirt] [ In reply to ]
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eatmydirt wrote:
Does your family life revolve around your workout schedule, or is that just a figure of speech? .


It's a figure of speech. I work my training around my family and work life. For example, doing my weekday workouts either before or after baby generally goes to bed. On weekends, I ask what the wife has planned for us and figure out when I can swim/bike/run around whatever she's organized for the day. I'll occasionally things like "hey, do you think the Smiths could meet us for brunch 30 min later so I don't have to cut my ride short" or "hey, can we do our big vacation in mid-late Sept rather than late August since my big race is Sept 8th this year).

I think what she means is it does sometimes feel like an inordinate amount of my mental energies goes to figuring out when/where/how I'm going to work in my training. When I just ran, it was easy. But when you factor in when the pool is open and least crowded, when to work in massive 4-6 hr rides, etc. it does get somewhat complicated.

The easiest thing to do would be just train from 5-7am weekdays and 4-8am weekends and disruption would be minimal given kid usually sleeps from 7-7, but I've found sleep to be almost more important than the workouts themselves.

gary p wrote:
wintershade wrote:
I think part of why she loves me and married me was because I strive for excellence.

Then strive to be an excellent husband and father, first. Find a competitive outlet that doesn't consume as much time as pursuing IM/3hrMarathon/UltraRunning/RAAM. You can be competitive on +/-6 hours a week training in any one of the 3 disciplines. If you can't stand to give up any of the 3, you can compete at a pretty high level at the Sprint distance on 8-10 hours a week, especially if you have a swim foundation. I'd start by asking her what she'd consider a "reasonable" workout schedule. Then figure out a goal you can accomplish within that. Maybe her expectations/desires aren't that far off. Or maybe you're spending WAY more time training than she'd like.

What makes me sad, is I think you're right. I think my real priorities are different from what she wants them to be.... It's just hard for me to get excited about competing in Sprint tris (even at something like the National level) when the siren song of Ultraman calls...

So one question is -- can you do an approach where you spend a few years (e.g., in Sprint/Oly) getting very very fast on lower volume and then just boom, ramp to Ultraman in a year?
Last edited by: wintershade: Feb 11, 19 16:48
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Saw this post and wondered if it could be that there's something (unrelated to your training) that is going wrong/not going to plan for her that is manifesting in anxiety/displeasure about your training?
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Does your wife do any type of exercise?
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I think the issue is Ironman. If you want to do decently well for your ability, you HAVE to put in a lot of hours, like 1.5hr/day minimum, in my opinion. Sure, you can 'do it' on less, but you're leaving a lot on the table when dealing with those huge race distances.

You can race Oly and sprints very well, near your max potential, on 7 hrs/wk, which is a measly day. And they are fun and competitive as heck - you'll get all the essence of triathlon racing and then some, without sacrificing your family time.

And if you DO get a better block of time, you can go crazy and race a HIM, and train as hard as you want in the process.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [jimatbeyond] [ In reply to ]
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jimatbeyond wrote:
Does your wife do any type of exercise?

She keeps fit, but nothing structured. She does "ClassPass" classes (palates, spin, etc.) and occasional cardio at the gym. She ran a half-marathon with me last year (in 2 hrs, not bad) but "hated" running and has no interest in cycling. She says she kind of wants to do a marathon at some point (just to prove she can), but my easy/recovery pace is around 8:00/mile which is faster than her 5K race pace.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Wow. This post alone has so much to digest. Ever think maybe she wishes every unplanned minute of the day didn't involve you working out? As someone else astutely responded .. take the hint. You'll prioritize what means the most to you. It sounds like you always have and always will. What this is, well, that's up to you.

Athletically, train short, train hard, go fast. I understand the appeal of distance - I really do. But with a wife and kids to hang out with, friends to visit, sports to watch, parties to go to, beer to drink, we (we're both athletes) pretty much have a 2 hour limit on race length and we love it that way. Embrace a change, hang out with your wife.

Whatever you do, good luck doing it.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [jimatbeyond] [ In reply to ]
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Reschedule training sessions to end by 8am. Get to bed early to do it. Not so early that you’re in bed without spending some time together.

If all else fails, increase the intensity of the workouts and reduce the volume. You might have to drop down to 70.3’s, Olympics and Sprints. You do need to listen to your wife though. She is telling you there isn’t enough balance in your life with her.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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My wife's workout is to walk four miles at around 14 minute pace. Sometimes, she will walk two miles and run two miles at around 10 minute pace.

On Saturday and Sunday, I do it with her.

Put your kid in a jog stroller and make it a family event.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [mwanner13] [ In reply to ]
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mwanner13 wrote:
Reschedule training sessions to end by 8am. Get to bed early to do it. Not so early that you’re in bed without spending some time together.

If all else fails, increase the intensity of the workouts and reduce the volume. You might have to drop down to 70.3’s, Olympics and Sprints. You do need to listen to your wife though. She is telling you there isn’t enough balance in your life with her.


I agree, you need to make it work with your family, maybe race shorter. Im sticking to 70.3 and shorter for a few years with two todlers. It means on Saturday i can get away with a three hour ride rather then 6 and through the week I just train when I can most evenings for an hour only and one or two mornings. I really want to race ironman again, I did a couple before babies came but as a positive this keep the flames hot when i finally get back to it and also, I wanted to have kids and they need to come first as well as looking after my relationship. Not much fun doing this sport with no one to celebrate with.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [Gilliga] [ In reply to ]
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Gilliga wrote:
Not much fun doing this sport with no one to celebrate with.
Right on man.

Some good advice here. Keep it flowing.......

My plan this year was to take a year off IM and do two 70.3s and two Olympic races with a goal of getting faster (sub 5hrs at both 70.3s), with the official plan being an IM next year. But I kind wanted to keep some big riding in there to do a couple century rides mid-season. Sounds like an easy place to start is nix those, maybe do metric centuries instead.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [ripple] [ In reply to ]
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ripple wrote:
Wow. This post alone has so much to digest. Ever think maybe she wishes every unplanned minute of the day didn't involve you working out?

+1. I’ve been in almost exactly the same situation. For a wife to make a comment like that, it means that your workout schedule has been bothering her for some time. I would seriously consider taking some down time to spend more time with your wife. Keep your relationship healthy; success in triathlon is not worth fracturing a relationship with your spouse.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
eatmydirt wrote:
Does your family life revolve around your workout schedule, or is that just a figure of speech? .


It's a figure of speech. I work my training around my family and work life. For example, doing my weekday workouts either before or after baby generally goes to bed. On weekends, I ask what the wife has planned for us and figure out when I can swim/bike/run around whatever she's organized for the day. I'll occasionally things like "hey, do you think the Smiths could meet us for brunch 30 min later so I don't have to cut my ride short" or "hey, can we do our big vacation in mid-late Sept rather than late August since my big race is Sept 8th this year).

I think what she means is it does sometimes feel like an inordinate amount of my mental energies goes to figuring out when/where/how I'm going to work in my training. When I just ran, it was easy. But when you factor in when the pool is open and least crowded, when to work in massive 4-6 hr rides, etc. it does get somewhat complicated.

The easiest thing to do would be just train from 5-7am weekdays and 4-8am weekends and disruption would be minimal given kid usually sleeps from 7-7, but I've found sleep to be almost more important than the workouts themselves.

gary p wrote:
wintershade wrote:
I think part of why she loves me and married me was because I strive for excellence.

Then strive to be an excellent husband and father, first. Find a competitive outlet that doesn't consume as much time as pursuing IM/3hrMarathon/UltraRunning/RAAM. You can be competitive on +/-6 hours a week training in any one of the 3 disciplines. If you can't stand to give up any of the 3, you can compete at a pretty high level at the Sprint distance on 8-10 hours a week, especially if you have a swim foundation. I'd start by asking her what she'd consider a "reasonable" workout schedule. Then figure out a goal you can accomplish within that. Maybe her expectations/desires aren't that far off. Or maybe you're spending WAY more time training than she'd like.

What makes me sad, is I think you're right. I think my real priorities are different from what she wants them to be.... It's just hard for me to get excited about competing in Sprint tris (even at something like the National level) when the siren song of Ultraman calls...

So one question is -- can you do an approach where you spend a few years (e.g., in Sprint/Oly) getting very very fast on lower volume and then just boom, ramp to Ultraman in a year?

I've been there. I think what she is saying is she wants you to think about how you can enhance family/relationship rather than can I fit training in amongst this schedule.

When was the last time you said, hey I've got a spare 30min here on the weekend, let's spend some time cuddling on the couch together? Rather than hey, I've got 30 min spare so I don't have to cut a ride short. If you are serious about making this relationship work long term, I'd advise now and then sacrificing workout time for couple time. I guarantee she'll notice you prioritising her over your training and it will be very well received. Again, it doesn't have to be all the time, bit every now and then will keep her realising she's important to you.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Stop doing Ironman. There's nothing that says you have to do that distance. Do 70.3. Do Olympic. Do Sprints
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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How much volume are you doing? Are you doing 4-6 hour rides every week? What is your current training schedule like?

Depending on your current training schedule, you MAY be able to do less, make more time with the family, and still achieve your athletic goals. I would consider doing less volume and more intensity to make more time.

get comfortable being uncomfortable
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Quote:
How to keep Ironman from consuming your life

Do 70.3's, sprints & olys. bike racing gravel grinders etc

Sometimes what you want and what is best are 2 different things

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
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Bundled FrindinFreestyle Bike Fit+ 1hr Wind Tunnel Time May 8th & 9th - PM for info
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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My first wife and I had that discussion once and I told her my workouts were #1, my Job # 2 and she was #3. It was the honest truth in my mind. Needless to say she was my ex--wife not too many months later. I did my last Ironman the day after my wife of 34 years and I got married then retired from stupid lots of training. Hey we were all young and dumb at one time, but I survived and am very happy being old and slow.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I've been there, lived it. Ruined a couple marriages. From personal experience, here is my input: Make your wife and family a priority. Raise your kids. Love your bride to pieces. Blow her mind at how important she is, and how you can take or leave the athletics. Do just enough to stay in shape, and not let yourself go. Now the key... concentrate everything you can on retirement. Stay out of debt, invest, pay the house off, put away all your overtime money, etc...etc whatever you can. It's going to happen someday. When the time comes, your kids will be young adults with wonderful memories of growing up. Your wife will still love you to pieces. And suddenly you will have all day, every day, to work out as much as you want. Do it right, and you'll be living the dream.

Athlinks / Strava
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I share a similar circumstance, wintershade.

First, you might want to collect a little more info from your wife to fully understand what she means because I've been asked that question and could mean several things. This is what it boiled down to for me after discussing and solving in detail with my wife:

One thing we did that helped us tremendously was making my training and talk about training more under the radar/subtle. It's great to have her ask what my [workout] plan is for the day, but I also learned its a "how long will you be gone so I know when to call a rescue team" question. And if she asks how it goes, all she wants to hear is "Great! It was a fun day, even though I had 3 flats. How was your morning/afternoon honey?" [Edit: not in the sarcastic sense] If she wants to know more about my workouts and how my training and racing is going, she WILL ask, particularly if a vacation she gets to plan is coinciding with a race. Your workouts are a part of you, but behind your wife, son, and work. Hold them up high and let them know it. Your family knows training is a part of you and makes you happy, so they will support you.

Another thing that worked for me big time was getting my long ride to fit on a weekday (Thursday), even occasionally if not regularly. Not everyone can work their schedule like that, but if you get creative sometimes you can pull it off. At the very least I have either my long run or ride on a weekday and the other on the weekend, and rarely back to back. The other half of it is not always working on squeezing that extra 30 minutes in but simply sacrificing it, or getting my ass outta bed 30 minutes earlier. Is that extra 30 minutes for the whole week gonna make the difference? Probably not. Especially if it is a question on the day of our social plans, I probably didn't plan/communicate properly with my family anyway. In fact, now I look at it as R&R opportunity. Rest today so you can hammer tomorrow AND you get to be social today. Balance the give and take, and you'll find less is more.

I keep my "long" fitness by getting a 4.5-5.5 hour ride once a month really, and otherwise I do 3-3.5 hour focused intensity medium-long rides which help immensely with race pacing. The same weeks I do the "shorter" long ride I do significantly longer runs, so it also mixes up like a crash block alternating riding and running each week. I cut my swims to 2-3x a week, only one is more than an hour, the others are 30 mins or so. And, for the 30 minute swims I go to the closest pool/ocean/body of water possible, don't care what length it is, it's all about convenience and good form (just put up with sharing a narrow lane). I drive 25 minutes once a week to use a long course pool to get my long day, thats it. You can excel at IM training with a consistent 10-12 hours a week (with a rest week every couple/three weeks) with right intensity and focused long days for most of your "regular" training, with only a month or two of build before a race taking up more time.

Good luck.

Matt Leu, M.S. Kinesiology
Endurance Athlete and Coach
Consistency/time=results
Last edited by: ironmatt85: Feb 11, 19 19:07
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Looks like you need to hook up with a triathalon chick.

Or, kill your hopes and dreams of competition and just train harder in shorter intervals.
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Best advice I would note is to not make your weekend your long run or long bike days if at all possible, cut out junk miles and just train hard.

For example I've moved my long run day to Wednesday and my long bike to Friday late. In addition I am committed to almost entirely training on the indoor trainer which makes this possible.

If doing a two hour ride I'd perhaps do it from 9-11PM on Friday and than take Saturday 100% off. If doing a 3 to 5 hour ride, perhaps start at 8 and bike into the night.

It can work, just takes a bit of sacrifice. workout when it makes sense for the family, not so much you.

During IM training I push between 8 and 12 hours...very focused. Results have been solid, most recently 10:02 in Texas. (Not boasting just stating for the haters)
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Re: How to keep Ironman from consuming your life [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Lots of good posts listed so far in terms of prioritizing your family's lifestyle, you need to quantify and communicate your trainining time to family time ratio. I'm sure she has goals also combined with a new son balance is key. Don't let this go.

I would encourage you to ask your wife what she would like to see you balance your training schedule, sounds like it's the variations of workout duration she finds 'crazy'. I train year around for several halves and one full in Nov. my wife is supportive in planning vacations social gatherings around that schedule. I could be faster, maybe qualify for Kona but it would not be worth it without her or my family.

I train based on time and my workouts stop as family obligations need. Life is short, train hard, have fun, do destination races, stay healthy.
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