Avoid One Major Injury Risk Of Ironman Training, Disruption Of Family Life, With FitOldDog’s List Of Palliative Approaches

“In family life, be completely present.”

Tao te Ching, translation by S. Mitchell

Hi folks! Glad you came by!

The picture symbolises the choices you have when training (20 min. cords instead of 1.5 hours pool trip), and the need for rest, in a hammock listening to the family is good. They love to be listened to.

This picture, taken in our porch, symbolizes the choices you have when training (20 min. cords instead of 1.5 hours pool trip), and the need for rest – in a hammock listening to the family is good. They love to be listened to. Photo by FitOldDog.

It is a true work of art to integrate Ironman training with a balanced and healthy family life, but it can be done with a little thought and compromise.

Conversation with Deb:

Kevin – “Say, Deb, what do you find to be the advantages of my Ironman training?”

Deb – “Well, 1. You are happy, 2. You are fit and healthy, 3. You set a good example for the kids, and 4. You motivate me to exercise too.”

Kevin – “And what would consider to be the real disadvantages?”

Deb – “That’s easy, the time commitment and when you are training hard you become inflexible.”

Long workouts, such as my favorite, pre-taper, 80-mile bike ride followed by a 10-mile run brick, can be a strain on the family because they essentially take all day. Furthermore, as you approach the line between maximum training level and overtraining your mood can change. In fact, bad moods can flag overtraining, so use this indicator to remember that sometimes less is more.

FitOldDog's support crew.

It feels good to know that there are people out there concerned about your safety, but this concern can be stressful to family and friends.

Try to offset family stressors by using the following tricks:

  1. Explain and re-explain the race season, so they understand that truly long workouts only occur for a limited period, this being the couple of months prior to race season.
  2. Replace selected 6-hour road rides with 3-4 hour trainer rides, as they are almost as effective and shorter time-wise. They also give you the appearance of being at home. In fact, you are at home if there’s a crisis. Furthermore, the family knows that you are safe on your trainer, reducing worry. Road riding is the most dangerous aspect of our sport, so call home from the road from time to time, and show them your road ID and bright lights.
  3. Try to minimize worry for your family as you train or race, as worry creates stress, and eventually leads to resentment.
  4. Substitute a cord workout (20 min. max for me) for the weekend swim workout, which takes 1-2 hours by the time you drive to the pool, change and so forth.

    Participate in local activities, like this run, with family members, even when it isn't strictly part of your training plan.

    Participate in local sports activities with family members, like this ‘paint run’ with Nick and Deb, even when it isn’t strictly part of your training plan.

  5. Substitute intensity for volume whenever you can, which I do not recommend for older athletes.
  6. Maximize the effectiveness of your training by remaining fully focused as you train, with no earphones or other distractions. Remember, a key aspect of endurance sports is mental conditioning. Carrying ‘entertainment’ as you workout results in, (1) substandard mental training, and (2) an inability to listen to your body, thus increasing your risk of injuries and suboptimal performance. In fact, if Lao-tzu was an Ironman triathlete, I’m sure he would have said, “When training, be completely present.” 
  7. Offer your family a vacation in association with your major races, making them a part of an appreciated team. Everyone likes to be appreciated.
  8. Include your family in your workouts, especially if they are faster short distance athletes, because they can pull up your pace – for instance, I always run track on Sunday afternoons, and invite family members who like to run. We follow this with a visit to a local restaurant where we have a great time. It helps to develop family-inclusive rituals.
  9. step kids, FitOldDog's family,

    FitOldDog’s little family, Deb, and his step kids Jess and Nick, in kayaks in Paradise Bay, Hawaii (a great place to stay). Do stuff with your family!!!

    THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL – listen to the advice of Lao-tzu, of about 2,500 years ago, and be completely present when in the family. You will be surprised how many brownie points can be earned by becoming a skilled listener (endurance athlete or not, for that matter). These brownie points will go a long way towards offsetting any negative impact of your training regimen on family life.

If you have any other ideas please let me know, as my supportive family and friends, who like to see me from time to time, sure would appreciate it.

-k @FitOldDog


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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.