People often ask me how I find time to do all the training I do in preparation for my Ironman 70.3, which on average is about 10 hours/wk (not including post exercise showering, stretching, eating etc.) The answer is, I just do. Sometimes it's harder than other times, but when life is normal and predictable it’s really not that hard. As a self employed RMT and Pilates instructor, my work schedule is flexible and adaptable. I can almost always find a way to shift things around to make time for training. It helps that I don't have any kids (I hear a baby changes everything :) The real test comes when life take an unexpected turn.
Last month, my dad had a fall and has been in the hospital for about a month now. Without going into too many details, this experience meant that training had to take a back seat to life. My coach reminded me life > training and to do my best with the time I had but not stress out. Because I no longer had mornings off, which is when I typically do most of my training (I was now at the hospital, and I was often staying late into the evening as well) I had to find creative ways to fit training into my life.
The first change I made, was I used commutes as my main form of training. I would leave for the hospital early enough in the morning that there wasn’t too much traffic and try to make my commute into a bit of a longer ride. Rather than going through the city, I would bike down to the waterfront and try to push my speed a bit on the Martin Goodman trail. A few times I ran commute to the hospital or home, which was trickier than biking because I had to bring a change of clothes and de-sweatify myself. I paid attention to nourishing myself with good food, taking time out of the day to just be still, talking to people about what I was experiencing and letting myself off the hook a bit.
The most challenging part was the toll it took on me mentally. My mind was so wrapped up in what was happening at the hospital - how my dad was that morning, how his sleep had been the night before, whether he needed anything - that training played a different role in my life. While I valued my morning commutes and the movement I was doing, I didn’t have the motivation or desire to really push myself with workouts. Just the act of moving, feeling the blood circulate through my body, my heart rate rise and my mind clear was what my body craved.
As things start to settle down now and my dad is requiring less care I am able to get back into training and although I am not where I thought / hoped I would be 1 month out from my big race, I am where I am.
What I do know, is I’m heading into this event with a new outlook. I don’t want to say that I’m letting myself off the hook but I must say my performance is really not that important to me. I spent the past month where I needed to be… in both mind and body. My mind was not on training because my mind was on supporting my father physically and emotionally. If I could zip down to the hospital and sit with my Dad for one hour between clients, without talking, just being, rather than get in some interval training then that is what I did.
At no point did I ever consider pulling out of the race. Even if I have to walk the 1/2 marathon at the end I am determined to finish what I started. The real tests of life are when things don’t go as you expected but you roll with the punches and find a new path that will take you to where you need to go.
My dad didn’t expect to fall, to develop an infection, be bed ridden for weeks and for his Parkinson’s symptoms to intensify so drastically that he could barely move. One month later, seeing him almost fully back to independence, something none of the doctors would have imagined seeing so fast (if at all!) is all the inspiration I need on race day. If anything, this experience has helped solidify for me why I am doing what I am doing. We are capable of so much more than we think and of what others think of us.
If my dad can rally through this incredibly challenging past month I think I can swim 2km, bike 90km and run 21.1km.
So that’s what I’m going to do.