Each new year seems to bring with it a longer list of demands for us as parents, workaholics and multisporters. Family, work and sport commitments battle for prime position on our list of priorities and most of us struggle to find the balance.
We become despondent; something has got to give. More often than not, our sport takes a back seat and we become poorer people for it. It’s like a snowball effect of negativity; we believe our lives as we know it are over. We have become those people who never have time for anything and always complain about what others have. Here are a few tips that may help you in your quest for a balanced life…
Arrange Your Priorities
Becoming a father was the single best thing that ever happened to me. Everything in my life changed, it took new perspective and what was important in the past, was suddenly not so urgent anymore. It is something to be proud of, a certain privilege we receive and should embrace it as exactly that. Knowing your priorities will simplify decision making – and you won’t feel so guilty about sacrificing things less important.
Have Realistic Goals
You can’t have a big race every weekend. How are you going to meet that work deadline before Friday if you have to swim every morning for two hours, run with the track squad every Wednesday and Friday, put in 25 hours on the bike and spend time with your family? Cherry-pick your races, not more than one big event every two months. Use other minor races as part of training to prepare for this.
It all comes down to planning. Plan your training backwards from race day to prepare for your big event. Know how many hours you have to work with each day, and allocate according to your priorities. The rest will fall into place. I have found that with proper planning, I am less rushed and more focused during training.
Communication And Unity
Once you’ve identified your big events for the year, and your training programme is set, have a glass of wine with your spouse and communicate your goals and programme. Always make sure you have unity in vision for your sport and that they understand the sacrifices that go with it.
Be Flexible For Your Family
Working eight to five is tough as it is. But sport keeps me happy and so does bathing my son every evening. So for me to sacrifice the track squad once a week is no big issue. I simply receive the session in advance and get it done earlier at a time that suits me and my family best.
Maximise The Mornings
For me to get up at 5am for my first session of the day is marvellous. My family is fast asleep and I get to enjoy the dawn of a brand new day. When everyone wakes, I already have one session in the bag and I’m energised for the day. But also make sure to lie in and wake up next to your spouse every now and then – one of the many privileges of married life.
Quality Always Trumps Quantity
Make the most of the time you have. Whether it’s a track, swim or bike session, I make sure I focus on the quality of the session, rather than slogging for longer hours. Shorter, more specific sessions with higher intensity are often more beneficial. Being a family man or mom is not a punishment; it’s a blessing. The sooner you realise this, the better for you, your sport and your family.
Originally published in the May/June 2013 issue.