Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Balancing Family and Running

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?

18 comments:

  1. I wish I could function on less sleep so I could run at night or early morning. Also, my husband is a light sleeper and requested (demanded?) that I stop getting up early to run and waking him up. That's why they make jogging strollers, right?

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  2. You're 100% right! It takes almost a perfect recipe of family and supportive spouse to make it work! I wake up to bike before the kids get up and I do trade-offs too! I swim while my daughter is at swim team. I'm lucky to have that hour!

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  3. I feel exactly the same way. Running is done when the kids are asleep and the husband is otherwise occupied (with sleep or homework). If I have to choose between family and a workout, I always choose family. You are such a great example to me.

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  4. My husband is a workaholic and my son is a teenager. I have all the time int he world to train! :)

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  5. I think these are fabulous tips Cory. When I first started marathon training I definitely struggled with this and running completely consumed me. But now that I've been at it for a while it doesn't take away from any family time which is great. It is so so good to have balance. :) And having an amazing family helps too.

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  6. One trick I found is to exercise while the kids are at their practice. Our kids play football, soccer, and baseball almost year round so a lot of time is spent on the sidelines. When I am not coaching, I am often running laps around the park allowing me to watch some of their practice, be available if needed, and still get in my run.

    I am amazed at how many parents sit in lawn chairs through practice complaining they don't have time to workout. Laps around the park can get boring but a boring run is better than no run.

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  7. I'm not a fan of running in the dark but if I didn't mind that, I don't think my husband would ever even notice...who can make it light out more hours in the day? For me, the only times there seem to be issues are when I meet up with a group, that just always takes longer between the driving, meeting, waiting and chit-chatting!

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  8. My weekday runs are before work/after kids go to bed usually. Weekend runs/rides do take time away from my family but typically are when my husband and youngest are otherwise occupied with football.

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  9. I waited till my kids were pretty much grown before I stretched out my training to longer hours and bigger distances. When they were younger I'd wake up early and run while they were still in bed. It just has a lesser impact that way.

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  10. Just tagged you in an 11 random things post, if you're interested in playing along. :)

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  11. I love this list. Really there isn't much I can add to it. I like the time trades. Most importantly, you have to make sure that you have support from family or you are going to be a lonely runner.

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  12. I love this post - definitely good to remember, and put priorities in the right place. A supportive family is the best one in my opinion. :) (PS, I found your blog awhile back and I love it...your pictures are great! (I also live in UT).

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  13. You have a fantastic list! No wife could say no to a 3-hour run in exchange for a chick flick with her hubby!!! You are awesome!

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  14. Catching up with your blog, Cory, and I couldn't agree more. Most of my runs are also done pre-dawn, and for the long ones I check in a lot with my husband to make sure both that he is getting enough "him" time and that we are getting enough time as a family. When he asked me not to train for a marathon this spring, I didn't hesitate to say OK and make another plan. I'm looking forward to when I can take the kids to the track with me.

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  15. Great tips! When I trained for Ironman Arizona last year, finding the balance between training and family time was tough. BUT, we found a system that worked and it was perfect for us!

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  16. I'm very late commenting on this but this is the first post I've seen from a man (yes and actual man!) talking about how to balance family and training. There's hardly any talk of this normally in guide for beginners etc so fair play to you! You're blog is great btw :)

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  17. Love this. I'm ramping up my running now and, with 6 kids and a wife, it's starting to be a bit of a challenge. Looking at doing my first ultra (Buffalo Run 50M) in March. Just found your blog and loving reading your entries.

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