SpartanFamilyA question that I get a lot, and by ‘a lot’, I mean ‘a whole lot’, is “How do you find the time to train, work, spend time with family, and race?” The question is usually asked increduously. While my answer is never one of “it’s easy”, it is very managable with discipline and a clear focus on what you want out of life. I’m not perfect with this, nor is this post in any way casting judgment on others who don’t do what I do. So, with that said, here is my usual answer.

Marry wisely
My wife is incredible. She is very supportive of my lifestyle, dedicating herself to good nutrition and grueling workouts with me. She allows me to pursue my passion with no little pushback

Get out of bed
For the vast majority of people, me included, we can’t wait until the end of the work day to train and expect to never miss a workout or have to cut one short. Too many things can go wrong. Unexpected visitors. Children have dance practice or a sporting event. Emotionally and/or physically drained from your job. There are simply no disturbances at 4:00 a.m. with the added benefit that it doesn’t take away from time with my daughter. [Side note: 99% of my training is done at home.  No gym.  Don’t want to waste money nor time driving back and forth.]

Say “No” to good things
This one is kinda (I realize that ‘kinda’ is not a word) difficult, and it can sometimes give the false impression that you are aloof, uncaring, or unfriendly. The reality is though, that there are countless so-called “good things” to which we can devote our time. Serving on charitable boards, community service, attending cultural events, going to Pampered Chef parties (okay, I’ve never really been invited to one of these), and a host of great church projects/committees are always being presented as opportunities. In order to stick to my training and still devote adequate time to nurturing my family, I have learned to say ‘no’ to a lot of things. Agreeing to every ‘good thing’ that comes along will prevent you from reaching training goals and/or spending the quality time with family. I’m very selective on the things I say ‘yes’ to and they are the things that I feel are extremely valuable or serve multiple purposes. I am no longer guilted into doing something simply because “I should” do it. Along with this, our daughter only participates in a few extra curricular activities that she truly loves. We don’t push things on her and we also don’t sign her up for every ‘good thing’ that comes along. Protecting her childhood is important to us.

Protect family time
Just like carving out early morning workout times, my wife and I protect our family time. The three of us eat virtually every breakfast and dinner together. We also have a long-standing tradition of Friday nights as family movie night that is only postponed (never cancelled) in extenuating circumstances. Weekday evenings have a routine of reading, playing games, and/or watching a single 20-minute television show (from DVR) as a family before bedtime. In addition to all of this, the three of us often ‘train’ together and attend races together. To say that my wife and I are conscious of decisions affecting the family is an understatement.

Be deliberate with entertainment
Almost no television. Video games aren’t entertainment. Parties that we attend are almost exclusively with close friends and church family in which our daughter goes with us. We rarely eat out at restaurants. Spending all of our time driving up and down the road to events is not how we choose to spend our time.

Know what you want
This probably should have been listed first, but it can just as easily close the post. I’ve given a lot of thought and introspection recently on what I want to give and get out of life. This is different for everyone, so I don’t expect this post to serve as a template. I have a semi-clear vision of where I want to go in life and take the paths that lead me toward this destination. Others will have different destinations, with different circumstances, with different decisions to make.

I would love to hear others’ answers to how they address the balancing act. If you have any questions or comments about what I’ve written, then just comment here or send me a message.