By: Jen Pinarski

When I raced my first triathlon over a decade ago, my life looked very different than it does today. As a twenty-something newlywed, my time and money were mine to spend as I wished. Hours spent in the pool, on the bike or on the road were the norm, as was a season full of away from home weekend races. After my son was born, I was only able to manage racing for one more year. Balancing work, parenthood and racing seemed out of my reach, so while I continued to train with my triathlon team and enter the occasional running event, I gave up triathlon racing. If you’re the parent of young children and trying to figure out how to perfect the tri/life balance, I have five hard-won tips to help you make it to the finish line with your sanity intact.

Train with a triathlon team or coach

My successful return to triathlon last year is credited to two things: the expertise of TriTrain coach Jason Hervey and the support of my relay team mates, Sharon DeVellis and Katja Wulfers. Jumping into an Olympic relay seemed daunting, but Jason’s carefully planned training schedule (that took into consideration that I had a life outside the swimming pool), dialled in on the key workouts I couldn’t miss and weekends were left open for family time. With Sharon and Katja cheering me on (and also juggling their own busy family shedules), we could commiserate over the challenges and rewards of being triathletes and parents, keeping each other motivated on the tough days. Having a support system is a sanity saver.

Become an early bird

If you’ve ever looked at your calendar and wished that there were more hours in the day, I have a secret that you may not like: there are extra hours before the sun comes up. Despite being an earlybird in my pre-baby days, I became addicted to my snooze button once I became a mom. The change from sleeper-inner to earlybird was a difficult one for me to make last summer, but the payoff was worth it. Getting up before sunrise meant I could sneak in a few guilt-free hours of training.

Share your training and race schedule with your spouse

There are two things you already know about triathlon: training can be time consuming and race registration fees can be pricey. Be upfront with your spouse when you start your triathlon journey by letting them know just how much your races and gear will cost, as well as why it’s important that you need to do those long swim, bikes and runs. I share a Google calendar with my husband to keep him up to date on my training and racing and pick affordable races close to home. Even if your spouse doesn’t race, they are your most important training partner.

Include your kids in your workouts

As a parent, you’re your child’s first role model, and by training for a triathlon, you’re setting a great example for them. Further this by including your kids in your workouts. Warm ups, cool downs, stretching and even speed workouts are all ways to have your kids train alongside you.

Give up the guilt

I remember heading out for a training ride with a triathlon teammate and having my then 18-month-old son clinging to my leg and crying that he didn’t want me to leave. It was a horrible feeling. So, of all the training challenges, feeling guilty about the time I invest in training is the one I work the hardest to overcome. Birthday parties, sick babies and school trips happen, so rather than feeling bad about not hitting your weekly mileage, embrace the chaos of being a triathlete parent. I’ll see you – and your kiddos – at the finish line.

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Follow Jen during her TTF training journey:

Twitter: @jenpinarski
Instagram: @jenpinarski
Blog: www.nowgetoutside.com

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