Balancing Parenthood and Triathlon Training

By: Stephanie Johnson of RunTriMom

You train when everyone else is sleeping. You push yourself beyond your limits on a daily basis. You are defying your own logic.

And when you are out on the race course, you're tired - mentally giving yourself the pep talks and reciting mantra that you will NOT quit. You turn a corner...You see them. Their little arms ready to embrace you and little hands ready to give big high-fives. Those voices in your head are now drowned by the sweetest sounds you know.

Your family. Your children. Although those brief seconds make up only a fraction of your long race day, those are the moments that carry you to the end. When you can finally collapse into the arms of the ones you love and show them by example that there are no limits to how big you can dream.

Racing is our passion. Families are forever. So how do we balance the two loves of our lives? These six tips will help you find balance during your next race season.

Stephanie Johnson of RunTriMom

1. Failing to Prepare is Preparing to Fail

Preparation is everything. The easiest place to prepare and save time is with food prep.

Prepare breakfast, school lunches and backpacks the night before. This will save the early morning chaos, especially if you have been up since before dawn getting in an early morning training session.

Invest in a rice cooker and crockpot! You can make large quantities of rice or quinoa in your rice cooker and always have it on hand. Fill your crockpot in the mornings and have a warm meal ready to eat when the family arrives home that evening.

Meal plan. Cut up fruits and veggies as soon as you get home from the grocery store for easy snacks. Prepare food as much as possible and you will find less chaos and more time in your days.

Time on the indoor bike trainer can also mean family time

2. Give Up Reality TV For Reality Time

Training takes time. It takes our energy. We inevitably have to sacrifice something because there simply are not enough hours in the day.

The average American watches 1-3 hours of television per day. That is 7-15 hours per week. In that time alone you would be able to successfully train for any event you dream of completing.

Reality time includes training but also, playing games with your children. Helping them with homework. Talking to your partner after the kids have gone to bed. Invest as much energy in your REAL life family and friends as you do the people on the TV screen.

Create your own reality by chasing down a dream instead of watching others chase theirs.

Stephanie and son

3. Family Schedules Are As Important As Training Schedules

Schedule date nights with your significant other as religiously as you would schedule a swim, bike or run training session.

How often do we hear “No Excuses” when it comes to training? Make date night “No Excuses”.When you make your schedule for the week schedule in a date. Your partner and/or family will feel respected and more likely to support your journey if they feel they are as big of a priority.

When you are with your family, give them your undivided attention. Yes, we are tired. Yes, we have been up since 4:00 am or are staying up to start a ride at 9:00 pm after homework is done. You wouldn't check your phone during a swim session so don't check them during a movie night. Stay present.

4. The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Train before the sun comes up. Before the pitter patter of little feet come demanding breakfast. Get up early.

You will be tired at night and your excuses will be greater to not train. If you get them done early you don't have to fight yourself all day. You have already done the work! You can cross it off your list and focus on your work and family.

Yes, when that alarm clock goes off you will want to throw it against the wall most days. I am not saying it will be easy. If it were easy everyone would be doing it. They don't. YOU are. You are choosing to show your family that they can accomplish anything they dream of with hard work. You may not think they are watching. They are. Every move you make. They will remember you waking up early so you could help them with homework and have a family dinner. They know. They see. They will follow your example. Use that as fuel to not break your alarm clock.

Get up early and live those extra hours of life!

5. Involve Your Family

Take your kids out when you swim, bike or run. Show them your passion and make it fun! Some days toss expectations out the window and train with your family simply to enjoy the time together. Take them biking and show them the way your face lights up when you feel that wind through your hair.

Have your family meet you to drop you off supplies during a run or bike and then spend a few minutes with them to show your appreciation.

Bring them to races and have them take an active part. Let them know how grateful you are for them. Stop and kiss them mid-race. They will remember that moment the rest of their life over any numbers or times.

Stephanie and son during race

6. Bend So You Don't Break

Be flexible. Kids get sick. We have bad days. Life happens! Bend with it. Don't fight it. Rearrange training schedules. Take an unplanned rest day. If plan A always worked out, life would become uninteresting very quickly. This is our hobby in the end. Our passionate, crazy and insanely fun hobby! The world will not stop spinning because we take a day off to spend with the family.Just keep smiling and enjoy the journey.

Make family number one. Involve them. Don't assume they know they are number one. Show them. Remind them. You will find through the years your children repeating the same mantras you tell them. When you get to that finish line and fall into their arms all those 4:00 am training sessions. All of the blood, sweat and tears. All of the excitement and sacrifice. All of it. Will be so very worth it. To hear those words, I am proud of you Mommy or Daddy. Live the life you want them to live and they will follow your footsteps.

Stephanie and kids

Stephanie Johnson, yoga instructor, Ironman, and avid world runnerStephanie Johnson is a Yoga Instructor, Ironman, avid world runner completing five marathons and one 50k ultra marathon and a Reiki Master/Teacher. She is a mother of two boys, passionately loves to explore the world and thoroughly enjoys pizza and donuts.

You can find her doing her RunTriMom thing on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat. To read more from Stephanie, visit her website at