How we make it work

When you and your spouse are both juggling full time jobs (40+ hour work weeks), Ironman athletes (who train 15-24 hours each week, depending on the time of year), enjoy spending time with family and friends, and still have a home life to balance and maintain, life can get hard…if you let it. Triathlete Magazine recently posted a great article on couples that train and race “together,” how it impacts their lives, and how they make it work. The irony is that the week before this article was published, the Iron Hippie and I were generating our own list of things we do each week to make our lives run more smoothly. Every couple has to find their own way and what works best for them, but these are some of the ways we make it work:

  1. Communication is key…We review our schedule daily for the next day, even though every Monday looks nearly the same as every other Monday, we take time to communicate what it will look like this week. What time will we be home? Are we working out together or separate? Who will be home at feeding time to feed the dogs? What leftovers are we having for dinner?
  2. Food preparation happens on the weekends…After our long workouts on Saturday and Sunday, we take the time to prepare food for the coming week, making sure to have plenty of leftovers so we don’t have to worry about preparing a meal after a long day of work and a tiring workout. We often freeze a lot of our meals and pull them out as we need them. Salads are one of our summertime favorites and super easy to make after an evening workout.
  3. Laundry, laundry and more laundry…With each of us producing mountains of laundry each week, it is critical that we stay on top of this. The best time saving hack we’ve found for laundry…drum roll…wash and dry laundry while we are on the trainer riding. During recovery sections of a workout, we can put the clothes in the drier and start a new load…now if we could just find a magic fairy to fold all of it and put it away…

    All the Coeur gear!!
  4. Post workout smoothie…The Vitamix is one of the BEST inventions and time savers that we have experienced!! In the morning we throw all the fruits and veggies into the Vitamix with some Pure Clean Beet Powder and Osmo Recovery Powder. This is the perfect way to refuel post workout and it is quick and easy to prepare and clean!
  5. Prepare for the coming day the night before…The Iron Hippie and I both set out our work clothes and workout clothes for the next day the night before. We also pack our lunches and all the bags that we will need the next day. Some days I get referred to as the “bag lady” as I’m walking into or out of school by students and colleagues. It is part of what comes with this lifestyle 😉
  6. Piggy backing workouts…When time permits, it is great to complete workouts one after the other. This often occurs for us more on the weekends than during the weekdays, but it allows us to take fewer showers, saves us time, and often produces less laundry…BONUS!!
  7. Shop once a week for groceries and goods…Typically after our long brick on Saturdays, we run errands around town purchasing groceries and any additional supplies we will need for the coming week(s). If we go to the grocery store during the week, it is usually immediately after a workout when our stomachs are ravenous. This is NEVER good for our pocket book or diet! This isn't even all of it!!
  8. Riding the trainer…Living in central Iowa, we spend all winter on the trainer, but even in the summer, we choose to ride on the trainer at least twice a week. It is safer since we are not on the roads with vehicles during prime times of work commuters. We don’t have to wait at stop lights, which saves time. We are in a controlled environment so we can compare our results from one workout to another. I personally love a good trainer workout! It allows me to get physically and mentally stronger on the bike by teaching me about focus, strength, and fortitude.
  9. Take workout gear to work with us…Sometimes we go straight from work to the gym for a workout, or ride our bikes from the school when the weather is nice. By packing up all of the gear we will need before work, we can experience a smooth transition to our workout without having to make the extra trip home for workout gear.
  10. Extra food is stashed everywhere…We keep extra food all over the place! We typically have Barnana bites, goldfish crackers, or Honey Stinger Chews in our swim bag, gym bag, desk drawer, car, yoga bag, on the table next to our trainers…you name it, we have probably stashed food there. Since we both workout between 15 and 24 hours a week (depending on how close race day is), we both burn through A LOT of calories! When I get hungry, there is a VERY short window before it turns hangry. Keeping food everywhere helps me prevent the hangry feeling as best as possible.
  11. We both share responsibilities…I am SUPER lucky to have a husband who can do it all (and is willing to)!! We both cook our meals, wash dishes, clean the house, do laundry, mow the lawn, shovel snow, tend to the dogs, take out the trash…there isn’t one task I can think of that we both don’t do. I’m truly blessed!!

How do you balance life and training/racing? What tricks or time saving hacks do you have to help keep you sane and on track?

14 thoughts on “How we make it work

  1. I laughed out loud at the laundry fairies–I keep waiting for them to show up here. I don’t mind doing the laundry, but putting it away is the worst job. It must help that you both have the same goals and can work together to get the meals prepped, housework done, and pups taken care of 🙂

    1. I keep waiting for laundry fairies, housekeeping fairies, cooking fairies, fairies of all types to show up, but they must be visiting everyone else 😉 Thankfully we are on the same page and work well together to meet our goals and keep the balance in our house and lives 🙂

  2. Great article and topic, here is something to think about throw in a teenage boy who is on the swim team, cross country team, track team, does triathlons, TT bike races, and others odd things. It makes for more meal preps needed and commucation.

    1. I can’t even begin to imagine. I teach teenagers everyday, so I know the chaos in the classroom, but can’t imagine having it at home also. Cheers to you for an even bigger juggling act!!

  3. Oh my gosh, the amount of laundry a triathlete produces is outrageous. I swear there is always a 4:1 ratio of my clothes vs. my husbands clothes in the laundry. I must change two to three times a day. And don’t even get me started on food. Is there ever enough food. I cried one day because we didn’t have any food in the house and it’s not as easy for me just to pick up and go get something (this takes planning with a baby). After this little melt down we now keep our house nice and stocked at all times.

    Do you and your husband bike and run the same speeds? I am always curious whether tri couples do most of their training together. Because Justin doesn’t do triathlons right now, I train solo most of the time. I have always wondered if we would train together if he was competing.

    1. I’ve had a few meltdowns over food, so I understand where you are coming from! Tim doesn’t set time/pace goals for himself, so we do a lot of our rides together. He can be much faster than me if he puts his mind to it, but chooses not to. In the summer we do more of our scheduled runs independently since I’m off work and can run during the day, but we do a lot of our workouts together.

  4. Great tips! My husband is also an athlete, though he’s a bit less nutty than me. We run and ride together a lot. He’s also planning to get us a bike trailer for little girl and his plan is to ride with her along side me on my long runs this summer.

    1. It is so nice to have the company! I’m glad you are making it a family affair and teaching Ellie the value of health and fitness at a young age 😊

  5. I am fortunate enough to have a husband like yours that helps with everything. He does a lot of the cleaning and I do a lot of the cooking/meal prep. We do laundry on Sundays. We were grocery shopping on Sundays but we’ve been doing it on Saturdays. I like it better that way because than i can just focus on the meal prep for the week! Being a triathlete is all about communication and preparation!! 🙂

    1. Communication and preparation are key!! It is so nice to have a husband who helps out with everything and is on the same page. It sounds like you function as a well-oiled machine also!!

  6. I like you guys. No relationship is perfect or easy and that you two work through it is wonderful! I like this post.

  7. Great post! It takes a lot of planning, I agree! Having a support system makes a big difference and someone that can relate to your goals and how important they are to you is huge!

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