Monday, March 24, 2008

Training With Kids: Part 1

After reading The Dread Pirate Rackham's interesting insights into Training With 5 Year Olds, I thought I'd riff off of that and offer up a few bits of wisdom (or not, you decide) I've discovered over the years of training and racing as a mom with young kids.

Early Years (0-3):

Accessories Are Your Friends

When friends at our church offered to throw us a baby shower for our first-born, the only thing I really wanted and needed was a running stroller. I'd already gotten a heap of cloth diapers, we'd planned to have the baby sleep with us, and with a pair of boobs already in place there was no feeding equipment necessary. So they had a money tree and bought us this great running stroller. Later, we added a Burley bike trailer and a Rhode Gear Limo bike seat to our stash and I was ready to roll with the baby. Unfortunately, the baby had other plans, which brings me to....

Be Flexible

Our son was one of those "extremely high needs" babies that you hear about and secretly wish won't happen to you. Never slept (so neither did I), hated the car seat, the stroller, the bike trailer, and anything that didn't involve being bounced up and down in the sling or nursing 24 x 7. We learned later that he had Sensory Integration Dysfunction (the world was too loud, too bright, too rough, too scary for the little guy) and also food allergies. So our world was turned upside down. Being flexible was the key to getting anything accomplished at all. For many months I couldn't swim - he would start screaming in the daycare at the gym and the ladies would have to come and get me out of the pool. Running sometimes worked out, sometimes not. Sometimes I had to take him out of the stroller and nurse or bounce him once a mile. Being flexible helped me find creative ways to workout whenever I could grab a minute, and I completed my first post-baby triathlon when he was 10 months old, so it all worked out in the end. His needs got met, mine got met, and though I wasn't the active mom-on-the-go I'd pictured myself to be ahead of time, we both were fine. Our second baby was happy as a clam at the gym, in the stroller, or wherever we wanted to drag her along, so things were actually easier with two kids than they were when I just had one. I found that a lot of working out with a baby is finding ways to work with the particular baby you happen to have!

Title Nine Sports Rocks

You might even be too young to know what Title Nine refers to (Google it, girlfriend), but this is hands-down the best place to buy running bras online. When what your husband might happily refer to as the "Boob Fairy" visits, it can be downright upsetting for an athlete who is not used to worrying about the Bounce Factor. Title Nine has a 1, 2, and 3-barbell rating system for bounce control, and sells everything from the Superwoman bra to The Last Resort bra. Don't worry, these things do go back down in size (husbands can get disappointed now), though they may never return to their pre-baby size.

Get Your Workouts In While You Can

When our 2nd kid came along, I got smart and bought a bike trainer and an indoor elliptical machine, so I could work out if they were napping, or I could put on a video for them and get some exercise time in. I would run in the mornings, the evenings, whenever my husband was available for kid duties. We moved to a new town and I started biking everywhere with the kids - trips to the library now doubled as a workout. You might think that miles around town on an old beater bicycle don't count, but I've discovered otherwise. Looking through my last season's journals, I never logged more than five hours on my road bike per week, but managed a 1:09 Olympic distance bike time and a 2:52 Half-Iron bike split, mostly due to a lot of bike commuting and tandem riding with my kids.

There Will Always Be Another Season

As trite as it might sound, babies grow up very quickly. At times, it can sure be frustrating to try to train and compete as a parent of very young kids. But looking back, I'm glad that I made the switch to "triathlete lite" during those years when my kids were babies and young toddlers. It went by all too fast as it was, and while I kept my feet wet with swimming, biking, and running whenever I could, and always did a couple of tris a season, I didn't really turn my head back to getting serious about tris until they were about 5 and 8 years old. By that time, they could ride bikes beside me while I ran, and each of them has done their own triathlon now so they know what it's all about.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post... great advice/suggestions. I don't have any kids yet but I plan to one day. :) Go Team!