Sometimes I have someone ask how I balance family time with my training for marathons or ultramarathons. Here are my suggestions for balancing family and running:
1) Like most of us, I'm not a professional athlete. I have a full-time job. I'm a husband and father. Those are my priorities for time. But I think it's possible, even with those considerations, to put in the time needed to train for an endurance event.
2) We all have the same number of hours in a day. When something becomes important to you, like running has become to me, you make the time.
3) One of my ultrarunning heroes is my friend Carol Manwaring. One day when I was picking her brain about ultramarathons she said something that has stuck with me: "I think almost anyone could do this if they spent less time on the couch in front of the TV." If you're struggling with finding time to exercise, look into how many hours a day/week you spend in front of the TV.
4) I do most of my training early in the morning or at night when the family is sleeping. That way my running has less impact on the family. If I didn't do races, my kids might not know I'm a runner because I'm usually back from my run by the time they wake up. I've gotten used to functioning on a little less sleep (and a little more Diet Mountain Dew).
5) If possible, get the family involved. Sometimes I'll take the kids to the track with me and we run around together. Sometimes I get the chance to run with my wife which I love (but she won't wake up as early as me).
6) If your training takes you away from family for a few hours, make it up to them. Sometimes I'll say to Mel "Would you mind if I leave for three hours to go run, and then tonight I'll watch the kids while you go out with your sisters?" I have even agreed to go to a chick flick with her after I got back from a Saturday run. Go me.
7) Marry a supportive spouse. Mel is the most supportive, encouraging wife I could ever ask for. I can't tell you how thankful I am to know that she always has my back with the running stuff. I would never be able to be as involved as I am without her support. She rules.
It can be easy to get consumed by training for a big event coming up. In the end though, I think family time has to be the priority. When it comes to family, saying that "Quality time is more important than quantity" is a cop-out. As a therapist, I can attest that quality AND quantity are important for children and a marriage. I try to follow the idea that "No success can compensate for failure in the home."
That's only my $.02 about finding that balance. I'm no expert, but this seems to have worked out for me so far.
Are there other tips you have for balancing family time and running time?